In The Know: Public budget discussion shows progress in some areas | Gov. comments re-open Tribal tag tiff | Second version of Oklahoma Survivor’s Act expected to become law

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.

State Government News

‘Is that a typo?’: Budget summit breakdown leaves legislative leaders bickering: As the sixth public “budget summit” of the Oklahoma Legislature rolled into its fifth hour Friday, a Senate staffer handed out a paper containing the upper chamber’s counter offer to a House counter offer that had been made right after lunch. [NonDoc]

  • Stitt still pushing for income tax cut, while legislators abruptly adjourn negotiations [The Oklahoman]
  • Budget negotiations at Capitol break down over lack of potential veto override agreement [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma’s budget-making process — now open to public view — has proven contentious, with some progress:  Whatever the read, progress on the budget is being made and, at least for now, a second round of tax cuts won’t happen. Actually, even with the on-going debate over tax policy and line-item spending, the House and the Senate aren’t actually that far apart on a final budget. Yes, there have been disagreements, and at times the tension has been thick, but overall, negotiations this week have been productive. [The Oklahoman]

Capitol Insider: Budget talks continuing with end of legislative session looming: Budget summit meetings have been moving the state budget and appropriation process forward, but lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement on the fiscal year 2025 budget. [KGOU]

As trailer bill lifts sales tax election restriction, OKC metro’s commuter rail votes could speed up: Cities and counties looking to hold sales tax elections between now and June 2025 were impeded by language within this year’s legislation that eliminated the state’s share of sales tax on groceries, but Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a trailer bill into law May 8 removing that section of law. [NonDoc]

Gov. Kevin Stitt renews tribal tag tiff: Gov. Kevin Stitt resumed his war of words with the Cherokee Nation over tribal license plates during his weekly press conference on Friday. Speaking at the Tulsa Police Department’s Real Time Information Center in City Hall, Stitt acknowledged he’s been focused on the Cherokees largely because they are the only tribe with compacts up for renewal this year. [Tulsa World]

  • Gov. Stitt visits Tulsa to praise police, criticize Cherokee Nation [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • ‘Unprecedented challenges’: Stitt comments on state-tribal issues, Cherokee chief responds [Fox 25]

Efforts to rein in ‘no bid’ state contracts have just begun, one lawmaker says: At least one state lawmaker is already trying to rein in the type of “no-bid” state contracts put on blast in a scathing new audit out of the State Auditor and Inspector’s Office. And House Bill 3057, which was just signed into law by the governor, is reportedly just the start. [Tulsa World]

Revamped version of Oklahoma Survivor’s Act expected to clear legislative process: The Oklahoma House is expected to consider an updated version of a measure written to protect victims of domestic violence next week. [Journal Record]

Opinion, Sen. Dave Rader: Oklahoma’s income tax cut decision not a simple one to make: It’s easy to advocate for a tax cut, but the hard work comes in deciding whether the timing is right and whether the state can afford it in the long term. Calls for tax cuts must be met with careful consideration and much deliberation because there are many factors to consider. [Sen. Dave Rader / Tulsa World]

Editorial: Republican legislators still have chance to improve public ed by denying rules: There is still a chance to rein in the controversial, and possibly unconstitutional, administrative rule changes requested by State Superintendent Ryan Walters. If not, then the Republican supermajority will have accomplished nothing of value for public education. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

U.S. officials: Tulsa is breaking the law by prosecuting Native Americans: U.S. officials moved to intervene this week in a lawsuit filed by the Muscogee Nation over Tulsa’s refusal to stop ticketing and fining Native American drivers. [The Oklahoman]

This Oklahoma medical school is trying to turn the tide on Native, rural doctor shortage: Oklahoma State University had partnered with the Cherokee Nation to open a medical school aiming to train a new generation of doctors to care for Native people and other underserved communities in rural Oklahoma. The OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation is the first tribally-affiliated medical school in the United States. [The Oklahoman]

Voting and Election News

These Oklahoma Gen Z candidates are challenging the state’s political status quo: Although the number of legislative candidates under the age of 25 has declined in recent years, demographic changes and the emergence of new issues seem likely to reverse that trend in the future. The candidates in 2024 races expressed a common interest in working together across party lines and reducing conflict. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Missed care, fewer patients: Rural families and clinics feel Medicaid cuts: Rural children and families are having to skip vital health treatments and even ending up in the emergency room, while already struggling rural clinics are losing more patients, as states cull their Medicaid rolls. [Oklahoma Voice]

Ransomware attack update: Ascension St. John ER off divert after about a week: Ascension St. John Medical Center’s emergency room in midtown Tulsa is no longer on divert status a little over a week after the health care system was hit with a ransomware attack. [Tulsa World]

Opinion: Oklahomans past talking about mental health. It’s about action now: When it comes to mental health, there’s a divide between the young and the old regarding stigma. For youth, there isn’t one. Also, they are so over not being able to get help when they need it. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Opinion: Mental health concerns are 365-day problem for many Oklahomans: May marks Mental Health Month, an opportune time to reflect on the state of mental wellness in Oklahoma. According to Mental Health America, Oklahoma ranks 38th for adult mental health, a statistic that has remained stagnant since 2020. While there’s been a modest improvement in youth mental health, with Oklahoma now ranking 28th, the state has historically struggled with overall mental health rankings. [Dr. Sara Coffey / Tulsa World]

Opinion: Keep conversation going about Tulsa’s mental health needs: During COVID-19, when so much of our collective focus was on our isolation from each other, we know that mental health issues for many were exacerbated. However, the silver lining was that it forced a discussion about mental illness that has existed in the shadows for years. Since that time, that discussion about mental illness and the lifting of the stigma surrounding it has brought a larger problem into focus — how widespread it is. [Cara Hair and David Page / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Opinion: Oklahoma Republicans passed an immigration law for police to enforce, and some don’t want to: You would think that when a group of Oklahoma police chiefs condemn a law that will supposedly help that Republican lawmakers would listen. But you would be mistaken. Instead, Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a law that critics say will allow for blatant racial profiling and the targeting of marginalized communities in a rushed and poorly thought out effort to solve the nation’s immigration crisis. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Opinion: Top police problems often trace back to lack of community mental health services: Police are typically the first to respond to a 911 call and generally become the primary service provider. These societal issues are systemic and have multiple root causes. For individuals, they are often rooted in long-standing problems. Localized or temporary efforts from a single agency or service provider won’t solve a systemic issue. An individual’s long-standing issue won’t be fixed in a single police interaction. [Matt Kirkland / Tulsa World]

Opinion: Sheriff has weaponized rape case for personal, political gain: While some “tough on crime” advocates believe the only response to crime is incarceration, my experience as a district judge in Oklahoma County showed me otherwise. Through cooperative efforts by judges, lawyers and community service providers, we have unlocked effective strategies that lower crime and incarceration in Oklahoma County. The proof is in the numbers. [Former Judge Kenneth Watson / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Oklahoma has an incarceration crisis. Here’s what could fix it: Since January 2016, Oklahoma County Treatment Courts have graduated over 1,580 participants. Based on an average seven-year sentence, these participants saved 11,060 years of time served. [Judge Kenneth M. Stoner / The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity News

Tenant Ousted After Unexpected Guest Tests Apartment Policies: The visitor, Hunter Locust, 31, arrived at Moore’s apartment early on the morning of April 10 and waited outside; Moore was inside sleeping. What happened while Moore was asleep inspired apartment manager Bobbie Beagle to serve Moore a 48-hour notice to quit, followed by a summons to eviction court. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma in top 10 worst states for working moms, study shows: Oklahoma ranks the eighth-worst state for working moms in a recent study from WalletHub with low scores in child care, professional opportunities and work-life balance. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma, Tulsa counties lead state in GDP growth, investment activity: Oklahoma and Tulsa counties have the highest GDP growth in Oklahoma and rank 120th and 158th nationally in a new study of counties with the highest investment activity. [Journal Record]

Total Wine and More appeals state’s denial to open first Oklahoma store: A national big box liquor chain is appealing the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission’s decision to deny its application to open its first store in Oklahoma. [KFOR]

Education News

New Oklahoma education secretary looks to address ‘one size fits all’ systems: Oklahoma Secretary of Education Nellie Sanders has summer homework. In a recent interview with the Tulsa World, Sanders acknowledged that five months into her tenure, she is still sifting through information and developing goals to best support students, families and schools in her new role. [Tulsa World]

Three White University of Oklahoma students sue, alleging racial discrimination: Three White students filed a class action federal lawsuit Wednesday alleging University of Oklahoma admissions office discriminated against them, losing financial aid opportunities. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Why a Moore student wants a protective order against state Superintendent Ryan Walters: A midstream change in attorneys by state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters — a situation brought about by all the in-house lawyers from the Oklahoma State Department of Education leaving the agency in March — and the resulting confusion have led to a renewed push by attorneys for a Moore student to seek a protective order against Walters and the State Board of Education. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Now that OKCPS has a new superintendent, educator hopes for evidence-driven discussions on performance: I hope the hiring of Dr. Jamie Polk as the superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools will be followed by an evidence-driven discussion about where OKCPS needs to go to serve its poorest children of color. To do so, I propose a conversation on the lessons of the history of MAPS for Kids and its opposite, Pathways to Greatness. [John Thompson / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: The entire strategy for education in Oklahoma is failing. It is wrong and unjust: It remains to be seen if the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act passed last year will improve or degrade educational outcomes in Oklahoma. My prediction is that it will negatively impact outcomes. [Rev. Adam Young / The Oklahoman]

Community News

Moore tornado survivor whose siblings were killed dedicates life to study of deadly storms: Today, over a decade since May 20, 2013 — when an EF5 tornado devastated Moore, killing 24 people, including 10 children — Aria Vargyas still thinks about her sisters every day as she pursues a career path that was partly inspired by them. [Tulsa World]

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. [KGOU]

  • Oklahoma City lands in top 20 of largest US cities by population: New census data [The Oklahoman]

These seven Oklahomans are set to receive the state’s highest honor: The 2024 class of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame ranges from a biophysicist who has developed missions for NASA and an acclaimed artist who does much of his painting with his mouth to a supermodel/actress who has become a trailblazer for sustainable fashion and a record executive who has helped Brooks & Dunn, Pam Tillis, Restless Heart and more become country music stars. [The Oklahoman]

Local Headlines

  • State to rebuild Ada’s notorious ‘Crazy Corner’ intersection, officials say [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa mayor forum and city council candidate event set for Aug. 1 at TU [Tulsa World]
  • Mayoral candidate concerned Tulsa neighborhood schools are ‘dumping grounds’ for low-income, disabled [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Progress. We made progress.”

-New Senate Appropriations Chairman Chuck Hall, R-Perry, speaking to his counterpart, House Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, about the public budget conversations during the past two weeks. For many, this budget, despite the arguments and debate it took to get there, is much better than one, say, a decade ago, when lawmakers had to slash millions of dollars in spending and use some legislative sleight of hand to keep the lights on. [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Percentage of U.S. adults who say they prefer news websites or social media for getting local news and information. This increased by 11 points since 2018 polling on the same topic, while the second highest preferred news source — television — declined from 41% to 32%. Print newspapers and radio were each at 9% as the preferred news source. [Pew Research Center]

Policy Note

Centering Native Perspectives and Wisdom: As the disparities in health and life expectancy between American Indian and Alaska Native peoples and other US populations continue to widen, it is critical for researchers and policymakers to examine the biases and limitations inherent in our Western data practices and health approaches, which often overlook and harm Native communities. [Urban Institute]

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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.