In The Know: Nearly $2M in school choice tax credits used to cover parents’ debts | Second Survivor’s Act bill passes Senate | New census data show state’s continued population growth

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

About $2 million deducted from Oklahoma school choice tax credits to cover parents’ debts: The Oklahoma Tax Commission has deducted 1,249 parental choice tax credit payments from applicants who had unpaid taxes or a debt claim filed against them, the agency reported in response to an open records request from Oklahoma Voice. [Oklahoma Voice]

State Government News

Oklahoma House, Senate continue trying to find compromise on budget: It was unclear on Thursday whether a proposal to cut state revenues generated by income taxes remains on the table as legislative leaders continue to hammer out a budget for fiscal year 2025. [Tulsa World]

  • Grant program to increase sheriff pay debated during latest Oklahoma budget talks [KOSU]

Domestic violence bill passes Senate, addresses Stitt’s concerns after veto: Known as the Oklahoma Survivors’ Act, Senate Bill 1835, by President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, would direct courts to consider domestic abuse as a mitigating factor when sentencing individuals convicted of or pleading guilty to violent crimes against their abusers. [Tulsa World]

  • Metro domestic violence survivor advocates for better protections for Oklahoma women [News 9]
  • Second Survivor’s Act bill passes Senate after veto [KFOR]

Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission bucks governor’s request: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond on Thursday told a state agency that regulates wagering not to adopt a “wrongheaded” resolution sought by the governor. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • ‘Can’t tell you what to do in 10 years’: Horse Racing Commission rejects Stitt resolution [NonDoc]

Lawmakers send Oklahoma governor bills allocating $45 million in disaster relief: Lawmakers sent two measures to the governor that would provide $45 million in disaster relief for counties impacted by the recent tornadoes. [Oklahoma Voice]

AG wants defense attorneys kicked out of Swadley’s lawsuit: The owner of Swadley’s Bar-B-Q has switched defense attorneys in his criminal case, throwing a related civil case into disarray. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Budget transparency sparks clash over tax cuts: State policymakers need to fix a revenue-generating system built on the backs of workaday Sooners, who percentage-wise pay far more in taxes than the wealthy elites living comfortably in Nichols Hills and Southern Hills. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Opinion: Education rules are another power grab by State Superintendent Ryan Walters: As a Democrat in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, I opposed State Superintendent Ryan Walters’ power grab in the form of new administrative rules proposed by his administration and subject to approval in the House Administrative Rules Committee. These new rules tie accreditation for school districts to high-stakes corporate testing, undermine due process for teachers and weaken separation of church and state. [Rep. Amanda Swope / Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

Oklahoma Senator wants taxpayers to pay for land buys from Grand Lake flooding: United States Sen. Markwayne Mullin wants to make the federal government pay to buy flooded Oklahoma lands along the main tributaries of Grand Lake and also wants to scrap a plan to study whether toxic sediment is building up. [The Frontier]

Tribal Nations News

Kiowa Election Commission strikes constitutional amendments three weeks before election: In a controversial move that has drawn criticism and threats of litigation, a pair of proposed constitutional amendments have been stricken from ballots in the Kiowa Tribe’s June 1 election. Both proposals had been approved earlier this year for a vote, and one would have made all members at the time of its passage legally full blood. [NonDoc]

4 Oklahoma tribes work with National Park Service to preserve cultural resources: The Modoc Nation, Kiowa Tribe, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Delaware Nation signed preservation agreements with the National Park Service, aiming to strengthen their preservation efforts. [KOSU]

Criminal Justice News

Okfuskee County man charged in Jan. 6 riot at U.S. Capitol: A 43-year-old Okfuskee County man faces charges in Washington, D.C., federal court related to his activities at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Oklahoma, at the epicenter of the incarceration crisis, can be the epicenter of solutions: A courtroom is not a place where you normally expect to find scenes of celebration, high-fives and tears of joy. Unless, of course, it is a Treatment Court. [Hon. Kenneth M. Stoner / The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

New census data show Oklahoma, OKC grew in 2023: The latest numbers show Oklahoma is part of an upward trend for southern states. The state’s overall population grew by about 1% in 2023 while Oklahoma City held its position as 20th largest city in the country. [KOSU]

  • Tulsa’s population increases slightly in latest Census data [Tulsa World]

Education News

University of Oklahoma sued by 3 white students for racial discrimination in financial aid: Three white students at the University of Oklahoma claim the school denied them financial aid because of systemic discrimination that favors Black students, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday. [The Oklahoman]

Education Watch: House Committee Approves Most of Walters’ Controversial Rule Changes: The rule attracting the most opposition from advocates would tie high-stakes test scores to school accreditation; other rules would declare a set of foundational values for the agency, permit schools to fire staff for acts that “excessively promote sexuality” and end automatic approval for the Oklahoma State School Boards Association to provide state-mandated school board member training. [Oklahoma Watch]

Mid-Del school students will receive free breakfast and lunch next school year. Here’s how: The Mid-Del school district will join a handful of other metro-area districts in offering all students free breakfast and lunch during the 2024-25 school year, ending the need for parents to submit applications to participate in a free and reduced-meal program. [The Oklahoman]

Owasson among first graduating class at College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cherokee Nation: Owasso’s Kristen McPherson was among the first students to graduate from the 46-member class at the Tahlequah-based campus, which serves as the nation’s first tribally affiliated medical school. [Tulsa World]

Community News

McCurtain County commissioners cancel meeting scheduled 240 miles away in Oklahoma City: McCurtain County’s Board of County Commissioners planned to meet in Oklahoma City Friday — about 240 miles away from where it normally meets — as part of a mediation effort to settle a long-running lawsuit. [The Oklahoman]

In last years of life, Kiowa author N. Scott Momaday lost land near where ‘creation was begun’: All indications were that Momaday planned to hold onto the piece of property his entire life. But when he died Jan. 24 at the age of 89 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the 40-acre Kiowa County property had a different owner. [NonDoc]

Oklahomans take a ‘Ride of Silence’ as part of international movement: Local cyclists recently took part in the 2024 Ride of Silence, an annual multi-location, international bicycle ride to commemorate cyclists who have been killed on public roadways and to support cyclists who have been injured while riding on public roads. [The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • ‘Consequences for actions’: Angry Yukon resident starts recall efforts for mayor, 2 council members [KOCO]

Quote of the Day

“So, we’re giving them taxpayer dollars, and we’re saying you don’t have to pay what you owe the people of Oklahoma.”

– Rep Andy Fugate, D-Del City, on funds from the state’s refundable private school tax credit program being used as a hand-out to families already enrolled in exclusive schools. The Oklahoma Legislature this year passed HB 3388, clarifying that the credits are non-taxable income and can’t be reduced for outstanding debts, but not before nearly $2 million in credits were used by parents to cover debts and delinquent taxes. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day

$1.92 million

Amount of taxpayer money from the state’s refundable private school tax credit program that was used to pay down parents’ debts and delinquent taxes last year. The legislation that created the tax credit program in 2023 included no such prohibition, prompting lawmakers to modify the law this session to clarify the credits are non-taxable income and can’t be reduced for outstanding debts. [Oklahoma Voice]

Policy Note

“Crisis” in Context: What the Mariel Boatlift Can Teach Us About the Current Trends in Immigration: Recent immigration to the United States is one of the most hotly contested issues in the country, and while immigration is not new by any means, the recent increase in the number of migrants over the nation’s southern border has stirred tremendous controversy. As we look at today’s challenges and opportunities, we can learn a lot by looking back at previous waves of immigration to place the current “crisis” in its appropriate historical context. This is not the first time the United States has seen a quick increase in the number of new immigrant arrivals. How has this gone in the past? [Immigration Research Initiative]

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


Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.