In The Know: State finance officials say $900 million budget hole will grow

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

This is the last In The Know of 2015! In The Know is taking a break for the holidays, and will resume on January 4, 2016.

Today In The News

Oklahoma finance officials say $900 million budget hole will grow: A projected $900 million hole in next year’s state-appropriated budget is expected to grow closer to $1.1 billion when adjusted for one-time expenditures that were used to plug a hole in the current state budget, state fiscal leaders confirmed Thursday [NewsOK]. Appropriated state agencies will face cuts ranging from 2 percent to 4 percent, Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said Thursday [Tulsa World].

School Administrators Discuss Oklahoma Budget Shortfall: Public school funding in Oklahoma could take a $55 million hit because of the state’s projected revenue shortfall. School administrators from across the state packed a room at Northeastern State University’s Broken Arrow campus to figure out where to cut an already lean budget [NewsOn6].

Ideas for revising A-F school grade cards, addressing teacher shortage discussed at state education board meeting: The Oklahoma State Board of Education on Thursday approved preliminary recommendations for revising the state’s A-F school report card system and initial ideas to help address the statewide teacher shortage. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the state really needs to complete updates to its academic standards and standardized testing program before overhauling its much-maligned school accountability system [Tulsa World].

Teacher recruitment legislation not enough to fix Oklahoma’s teacher shortage: On November 1st, two bills aimed at teacher recruitment for Oklahoma’s schools went into effect. One, HB 1521, allows for a “one-time incentive pay” for new teachers returning for a second year. HB 1521 also permits districts to help pay moving costs for out-of-state hires. SB 20 grants an Oklahoma teaching certificate to any person holding an out-of-state teaching license and five years’ experience teaching in another state [OK Policy]. This post is the third in a three-part series examining the reasons behind Oklahoma’s teacher shortage and what we can do to fix it.  You can read part one here and read part two here.

Director, chief of staff to resign from Oklahoma’s juvenile agency: Looming budget cuts and talk of consolidation has led two top staff members at the Office of Juvenile Affairs to resign, officials say. Executive Director Keith Wilson, in an email this week, notified the board chairman he intends to resign effective Dec. 31. Wilson, a retired judge, has served as director since 2012 [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Muslim Group Highlights Work, Discrimination In Civil Rights Report: The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations released a civil rights report on Wednesday examining issues they’ve identified over the past year, and the advocacy group’s response. CAIR-OK says about half of the complaints and incidents its Civil Rights Department received did show evidence of discrimination or anti-Muslim bias [KGOU]. The report is available here.

Sheriff’s Office seizes citizens’ cash, guns through unclaimed property law: The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office has been allowed to seize cash and guns from nearly 1,000 citizens during searches and arrests under a law designed for dealing with unclaimed property rather than using the state’s forfeiture process, an investigation by The Frontier has found. The sheriff’s office seized the items during arrests and investigations since 2005 but did not file individual civil forfeiture actions that would have allowed the agency to confiscate them in some cases. Instead, the Sheriff’s Office asked a judge to order the items “forfeited to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office for official use, sale, donation or destruction” under a law dealing with lost property in the sheriff’s possession [The Frontier].

Obama administration asks high court to reject Oklahoma’s marijuana lawsuit against Colorado: President Barack Obama’s administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to throw out a lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska seeking to block Colorado’s voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana use by adults. In their challenge to Colorado’s law, filed in December 2014, Nebraska and Oklahoma said marijuana is being smuggled across their borders and that drugs threaten the health and safety of children [Reuters]. 

Debate Over Tariff Exposes Rift on Cost of Electricity and Value of Solar Energy: Oklahoma Gas and Electric, the state’s largest electricity utility, wants regulators to approve new fees for customers who install solar panels. The request is now in the hands of Oklahoma’s three-member Corporation Commission, which has to weigh the real cost of reliable electricity and put a fair value on power from the sun [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Oklahoma Policy Priorities 2016: OK Policy is deciding our policy priorities for the coming year, and we want your input! Our staff has identified 25 issues in the six policy areas we focus on – budget and taxes, education, health care, criminal justice, economic opportunity, and voting and elections. We’ve provided a brief explanation for each issue. Please rate how high of a priority you think each of these issues should be for us in the coming months. We will use the results to guide our research and advocacy efforts in 2016 [Survey].

Quote of the Day

“It becomes really tough now because we’ve already made all of the cuts we thought were out there, the ones that were clear to us and we do not feel comfortable enlarging our class sizes any more than we already got them.”

– Muskogee Public Schools Superintendent Mike Garde on the budget cuts school officials have been warned they will have to make due to the revenue shortfall (Source)

Number of the Day


Average monthly SNAP (food stamp) benefits per person in Oklahoma in FY 2014

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Defying Stereotypes, Number Of Incarcerated Veterans In U.S. Drops: The number of military veterans in the country’s jails and prisons continues to drop, a new report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows. It’s the first government report that includes significant numbers of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and the findings defy stereotypes that returning war veterans are prone to crime [NPR].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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