In The Know: State agencies asked to make even deeper cuts amid revenue failure

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

State agencies asked to make even deeper cuts amid revenue failure: State officials on Thursday announced deeper cuts to state agencies following a revenue failure that is worse than originally expected. State-appropriated agencies were initially told in December to make cuts of 3 percent for the current fiscal year. On Thursday, officials announced an additional cut of 4 percent, bringing the amount to 7 percent [Tulsa World]. A breakdown of the cuts by agency is available here.

Oklahoma should tap the Rainy Day Fund now to ease mid-year cuts: As Oklahoma grapples with a rapid decline in state revenue collections, agency budgets have already been cut once this year, and a second round of even greater cuts has just been announced. Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund was designed specifically to be used, in part, to address mid-year revenue shortfalls. The Legislature can and should tap the Rainy Day Fund to minimize the mid-year cuts and avoid the most severe damage to education, health care, human services, and public safety [OK Policy].

Area schools slashing school days, expenses to balance budget amid second state cut: School leaders who had been bracing for a 3 percent state funding cut in March got a gut-punch on Thursday when state officials handed them an additional 4 percent reduction. Although state education officials won’t notify schools of their cuts in dollars and cents until next week, Tulsa Public Schools officials say they will lose at least another $2 million — on top of January’s $2.1 million state funding cut [Tulsa World].

For colleges, universities, funding cuts continue: One hour after higher education officials approved $26 million in budget reductions Thursday, the state finance director announced additional funding cuts for all state agencies. The scaled-back budgets for colleges and universities approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education were a response to a dramatic drop in oil gross production revenue. That tax normally generates $94.7 million per year for the higher education system, but this year’s estimate is $26.3 million less, Amanda Paliotta, vice chancellor for budget and finance, told the regents [NewsOK].

As Budgets Narrow and Dedicated Funds are Diverted, Agency Slows Plugging of Abandoned Wells: Oklahoma has hundreds of abandoned oil and gas wells, the byproduct of a century of petroleum production. Left unrepaired, many of these wells can endanger people and the environment. The state has a fund to plug abandoned wells, but some of that money has been diverted due to budget cuts [StateImpact Oklahoma].

House passes judicial appointee bill: High court appointees would have to face approval from lawmakers under legislation that passed the House of Representatives on Thursday. If the bill by Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, becomes law, it would create a 10-member panel made up of state House and Senate members who would have final say on the governor’s appointments to the Oklahoma Supreme Court and appellate benches. At least one member of the minority party, from each chamber, would get a seat on the committee [Journal Record]. No less than 20 measures to change Oklahoma’s judicial system were filed this year [OK Policy].

Senate approves unruly student legislation: Legislation was approved to give local school boards an alternative to suspension and expulsion to keep unruly students in the classroom. State Sen. Ron Sharp is the author of Senate Bill 911, which would allow school boards to create a policy where teachers can assign community service for those students who misbehave rather than suspending or expelling them [Journal Record].

Bad Bet: Fantasy sports bills could put state gaming revenues at risk: In 2004, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 712, which established legal compacts between the state of Oklahoma and Native American tribes to regulate tribal gaming. Under the gaming compacts, tribes contribute over $125 million to the state, which goes almost exclusively to public education. However, the compacts and the millions in education funds may be in jeopardy if the Oklahoma Legislature passes a bill aimed at authorizing daily fantasy sports contests [OK Policy].

Chamber, retailers, QuikTrip get behind initiative petition to change alcohol laws: The Tulsa Regional Chamber, QuikTrip, beer distributors and retailers across the state announced Thursday that they’re behind an initiative petition to change Oklahoma alcohol laws and allow the sale of wine and strong beer in convenience and grocery stores. Tyler Moore of Oklahomans for Consumer Freedom, the group that submitted the petition, said the petition was created in case Senate Joint Resolution 68 doesn’t pass the Legislature to put the question to voters November [Tulsa World].

Wife of slain labor commissioner speaks out about insurance coverage for mental illnesses: For more than eight years, Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello and his wife Cathy tried to find help for their son Christian. Christian Costello, now 27, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and he often struggled. In late August, the family’s struggle became very public when Christian was arrested on first-degree murder charges in the stabbing death of his father [NewsOK].

Oklahoma interim sheriff says reserve program should close: The reserve deputy program at an Oklahoma sheriff’s office that has been under scrutiny since a volunteer fatally shot an unarmed man should be shut down after an audit found the agency suffered from a “system-wide failure of leadership and supervision,” the interim sheriff said Thursday. Tulsa County Interim Sheriff Michelle Robinette told The Associated Press she will recommend ending the program, which has roughly 120 members [NewsOK].

Feds to Drop Charges Against Oilman Killed in Crash—–Probe Not Ending: The Justice Department is dropping the case against the late Oklahoma oilman Aubrey McClendon in the wake of his death Wednesday morning in a traffic crash in Oklahoma City. However, it does not mean the government is ending its probe of bid-rigging allegations that once pertained to Chesapeake Energy when McClendon was its leader [OK Energy Today].

Two more Oklahomans die from the flu: Two more Oklahomans have died from the flu, including the first person in Oklahoma County to die from the virus this flu season. Since October, 223 residents have been hospitalized because of the flu, and five have died. So far, it has been a mild flu season. Near this time last year, 94 Oklahomans had died from the flu, and more than 2,000 had been hospitalized [NewsOK].

OU students will work toward impacting Oklahoma policy: A new student organization is empowering college students to make the changes they want to see in their communities by teaching them how to conduct policy research and possibly write legislation. The Roosevelt Institute is a national, nonpartisan think tank with branches on campuses across the country, said political science sophomore Courtland Vogeding, president of the new OU branch [OU Daily].

Quote of the Day

“I’ve been sick to my stomach. We are going to start spit-balling ideas, but I don’t know if anybody has an absolute, great answer at this point. We’ve got to shift the monkey off the schools’ back and put it back on the Legislature’s back.”

– Wagoner Superintendent Randy Harris, on news of the latest round of mid-year education cuts prompted by the state’s second revenue failure this year, which may lead to a four-day school week for Wagoner students (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of road lanes miles in critical or inadequate condition in Oklahoma in 2014

Source: OK State Stats

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

A Degree of Savings: If current tuition rate increases continue, a child born this year will have to pay an estimated $215,064 for a four-year degree at a public college or university. Today, those costs average $110,408, according to These increases are pushing higher education out of the reach of many Americans, especially since less than half of parents with children under age 18 have started saving for college, according to the private student-loan provider Sallie Mae [National Conference of State Legislatures].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

One thought on “In The Know: State agencies asked to make even deeper cuts amid revenue failure

  1. Just like medicine. My college tuition at a state university was usually around $300 per semester. I was taking courses 25 years ago. I could go to a local doctor for a $15 office call if I paid at the time of the visit. Even without insurance 15 years ago, my brother saw a specialist for $50 visits, which is the “co-pay” of many insurance policies now. He is diabetic and now can’t afford to even see a doctor. 12 years ago, a colonoscopy cost under $1800, and an upper-lower GI cost under $2500. I was charged over $11,000 for an upper and lower GI three years ago and it wasn’t even in a hospital setting. I am still paying on my share of it and would never have done it if I had known the cost upfront. They “couldn’t tell me”. Inflation on other products has not risen at the same rate, nor has my salary. Corporate entities such as managed health care and insurance along with educational material providers and many layers or extra administration are responsible for much of the problem. Corporate control has made the upper 5% rich and the rest of us much poorer and with much poorer care and fewer opportunities. We are becoming a nation in debt-bondage, and it is as close to slavery as the laws allow.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.