In The Know: Governor’s proposal meant to start conversation on solutions

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.

Today In The News

Governor’s proposal meant to start conversation on solutions: A “conversation starter” is what Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, the state’s chief budget officer, called the proposal for the coming budget year that Gov. Mary Fallin put forward on the first day of the legislative session. It did do that [Tulsa World]. Within the text of her written speech, Oklahoma Watch writers offer annotations with context and more details [Oklahoma Watch]. OK Policy’s statement responding to her budget is available here.

Oklahoma education officials pitch standards to state lawmakers: Lawmakers said Monday they are eager to approve Oklahoma’s new academic standards so teachers can get started on the implementation process. Senate Education Chairman John Ford was among those who attended a joint meeting of the House and Senate to learn more about the standards from state Education Department officials [NewsOK]. 

Demystify Oklahoma’s policy process with the 2016 Legislative Primer: How many bills made it into law last year? What do legislators get paid? Who’s in Governor Fallin’s cabinet? As the 2016 Oklahoma Legislative session gets underway, our newly updated Legislative Primer will answer these questions and more [OK Policy].

Kansas tax collections $7M below expectations last month: Kansas collected $7 million less in taxes than expected in January, and a top aide to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said Monday that ongoing problems in key parts of the state’s economy are to blame. The report Monday from the Department of Revenue came with the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees preparing later this week to debate proposals for balancing the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The deficit had been projected at $190 million; the shortfall in January pushes it close to $200 million [The News Tribune].

An epidemic ignored: Over and over, we have seen Oklahoma invest in the health care system during a health crisis. The state responded when hundreds of residents were struggling with tuberculosis. The state responded to polio. Each year, cities and counties combat mosquitoes, in hopes of fighting back mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile virus. And the state spent money on Ebola during the 2014 West Africa outbreak that killed one person in the United States. Meanwhile, on average, one person dies by suicide in Oklahoma every 13 hours [Jaclyn Cosgrove].

Oklahoma City school district wants to expand drug testing for teachers, staff: Oklahoma City Public Schools wants to drug test all its employees, and officials say the district can save as much as $1 million a year in workers’ compensation costs by doing so. Chief Human Resources Officer Janis Perrault told school board members Monday night the district plans to further expand drug testing to include post-incident testing (following accident or injury), reasonable suspicion, and return to work [NewsOK]. 

Oklahoma prison system mum on convicted cop’s whereabouts: Oklahoma prison officials won’t disclose where they are housing a former police officer convicted of raping and sexually victimizing women on his beat, saying the information must be kept secret for his own protection. Former Oklahoma City Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was sentenced last month to 263 years in prison on 18 separate counts, including first-degree rape. He could be in an Oklahoma prison or in one out-of-state [NewsOK].

Duncan Schools In Crisis: Oklahoma’s repeated cuts in education funding over the past eight years have left Duncan schools in a crisis that may soon affect major programs like sports, band, vocational-agriculture and fine arts and result in teacher job losses and fewer remaining teachers being responsible for larger numbers of students in classrooms, according to Superintendent Melonie Hau. Hau said Duncan has managed to absorb cuts dating back at least to 2008 by reducing payroll through attrition and by making tough decisions to cut some jobs completely, like an assistant superintendent’s post and an assistant principal’s position, and to add to responsibilities of counselors and others [Lawton Constitution].

Tort claim fills in details about Bates report coverup: A tort claim released to the media last week by attorneys for former Tulsa County Sheriff’s Maj. Shannon Clark kind of said what we already knew in a big picture way. But it still provides important missing pieces of how the agency tried to cover up a 2009 investigation into Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, even after he shot and killed an unarmed man during an undercover operation [The Tall Blog / The Frontier].

American Indian Cultural Center and Museum tweaks prompt cool reception by state officials: Oklahoma City got a cool reception at the state Capitol to ideas for revising legislation to complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. The city has six weeks to decide whether to accept the Legislature’s proposal, passed last year, to have the city operate the museum once it opens [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“I am always worried I will be a statistic if I don’t get my therapies continued.”

– An unnamed man who receives treatment for mental illness care through the state-funded mental health system, voicing concern about continuing cuts to state programs in an email to reporter Jaclyn Cosgrove  (Source)

Number of the Day


Total state expenditures per capita in Oklahoma in state fiscal year 2014

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The water crisis in Flint, and the strategy of government failure: First, the fact that the richest economy on the globe failed to provide an essential public good is a symptom of government failure with which we must reckon. Second, such failure is not a benign accident. It’s not a passive failure of lazy oversight. It is a strategy to first break and then discredit the public sector, to undermine trust and inculcate disgust. The beneficiaries of this strategy are the wealthy who will then push for smaller government and tax cuts. Those who pay the price will be people much like those in Flint. And there are many more of the latter than the former [Washington Post].

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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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