Last year’s voucher push prompts Senate to commit to budget transparency 

It’s going to be interesting to see how the new, more transparent appropriations process works in the Senate next session. Dissatisfaction with the process seemed to reach a high-water mark in the Senate last session.  [More...]

Oklahoma’s overreliance on incarceration is increasing prison population (Capitol Update)

Oklahoma's justice system remains heavily tilted toward overincarceration. Even unnecessarily lengthy deferred and suspended sentences are often only a precursor to a lengthy prison sentence. As the prison numbers are now beginning to go back up, other essential state services are being shortchanged to support overincarceration. [More...]

Attracting a new generation of teachers (Capitol Update)

If a blue ribbon study were conducted today, it’s likely the most urgent threats to America’s schools would be (1) not enough people want to be a teacher, and (2) too many students are chronically absent from school. Solutions would be difficult both to agree upon and to implement.  [More...]

Updated youth justice campus in Tecumseh provides opportunities for Oklahoma kids (Capitol Update)

It was recently announced by the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) that the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center (COJC), located in Tecumseh, completed its American Correctional Association (ACA) audit and received a 100 percent compliance score of the 38 mandatory files… Read more [More...]

State experiencing churn in agency directors (Capitol Update)

With the change giving the governor the hiring and firing of agency directors, the state will continue to see more turnover in agency leadership. Political appointees will come and go rather than seeing their job as a career. In the five agencies above, a majority of the boards are appointed by the governor and serve at the pleasure of the governor so, in effect, the governor can control both the boards and the directors. [More...]

Years of unrestored budget cuts have kept vital state agencies underfunded (Capitol Update)

During the decade downturn in the state’s economy, state agencies were hollowed out. When the economy turned around, the governor insisted on agencies submitting flat budget requests to the legislature and “saving” the increased revenue in various accounts. Then he used the “savings” to demand tax cuts.  [More...]

Interim study on youth justice shows need for funding, cohesive systems for prevention and treatment services (Capitol Update)

Rep. Amanda Swope, D-Tulsa, who in her life outside the legislature is the Tribal Juvenile Justice Program Director for the Muscogee Nation, brought her passion for helping troubled youth with her when she was elected to the House of Representatives.… Read more [More...]

Policy Matters: It’s time to rethink minimum wage

Have you ever rearranged your living room furniture? When the light touches the space in new ways, the pieces create a new refreshing ensemble. Much like reviving a dark, stale living room, it is time for Oklahoma lawmakers to shed… Read more [More...]

Rebranding private school vouchers: The art of political makeovers (Capitol Update)

In time-honored legislative jargon it’s called “putting lipstick on a pig.”  Most legislators have opposed school vouchers for private schools. In 2022 the Senate tried to pass a bill giving private school students a publicly funded “education savings account,” and… Read more [More...]

How the sausage gets made: Comparing today’s state budget process to previous process (Capitol Update)

Governor Stitt’s special session that lasted only a few hours brought attention to a perpetual issue: transparency of the legislative appropriations process. Stitt’s complaint was he didn’t know what was in the general appropriation bill until it was too late… Read more [More...]