In The Know: 857 corrections officers needed, says Department of Corrections Director Patton

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Speaking to a Senate Appropriations Committee, Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton told committee members that it would take nearly 900 additional corrections officers to fully staff state prisons. Patton said that while state prisons are staffed at 67 percent, the prisons are operating at 116 percent capacity, creating security concerns. State Superintendent of Schools Joy Hofmeister said that it’s important for the state to be transparent accountable about results in the classroom, but suggested that the current A-F report card system is an “unreliable measure,” and said that the state could develop its own system to measure school performance.

The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board praised legislators for committing to fund the Pinnacle Plan despite the state’s budget crisis. Writing in his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt made the case for a higher minimum wage in Oklahoma. The OK Policy Blog shared a plan for boosting education funding, modeled on a system that allocates tax revenues for the upkeep of state highways and bridges.

The Senate passed two bills scrutinizing the effectiveness of tax credits, and  a Senate panel passed a measure that could lead to the end of end-of-instruction exams. The House approved a measure to legalize switchblades but passed on ones that would have created a new toll collection system and would have required candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run jointly. A House resolution that would have allowed Oklahoma wineries to ship wine to visitors is on hold, and the House declined to pass an amendment that would have given retired firefighters a cost-of-living pension increase.

KGOU spoke to Oklahoma AP history teachers about how the course is taught in the state. Surplus Vision 2025 tax collections will be used to fund park improvements in Sand Springs, building updates in Collinsville, and a new water tower in Glenpool, according to the Tulsa County Vision Authority. The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans age 18-64 who receive Social Security disability assistance. In today’s Policy Note, PBS examines how bitterly cold temperatures push some Americans toward the poverty line.

In The News

857 correctional officers needed, director of prisons Robert Patton tells state Senate committee

It would take 857 additional correctional officers to fully staff state prisons, a Senate panel was told Wednesday. Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee peppered Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton with budget questions as lawmakers try to figure out how to fill budget holes.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Superintendent: State Could Pioneer New School Measure

Oklahoma Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she knows of no school grading system in the nation that she likes and believes Oklahoma can develop its own pioneering system to measure school performance. However, she said revising the controversial A through F grading system is not an immediate priority.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Pinnacle Plan funding can’t wait

The top budget committee chairmen in the Oklahoma Legislature say court-approved reforms to the state foster care program will be funded, despite a $611.3 million revenue hole. “It’s not up for debate… The Pinnacle Plan will be funded,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Clark Jolley, R-Edmond.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Wage push gains steam

All around us, the push for higher minimum wages is gaining steam. Unfortunately, Oklahoma lawmakers aren’t part of it, and workers are paying the price.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Education vies for funding down the road

How do you boost support for education in a year when the state faces a massive budget shortfall? Several bills to provide teacher pay raises have gained initial committee approval, but these bills are unlikely to make it into law given the grim budget situation.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Senate Passes Two Bills Scrutinizing Tax Credits And Deductions

Bills designed to provide more scrutiny and oversight of some of the hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of state tax credits have passed the Oklahoma Senate. The Senate voted Wednesday for a pair of bills by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman and sent both to the House for consideration.

Read more from KGOU.

End-of-instruction exams could be replaced under bill backed by Senate panel

A Senate panel on Wednesday passed a measure that could lead to the abolishing of end-of-instruction exams. But a few lawmakers said it could lead to the teaching of Common Core standards, which were repealed last year.

Read more from Public Radio Tulsa.

Oklahoma House says yes to switchblades, no to new toll collection system

The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted Wednesday to legalize switchblade knives but turned thumbs down on photo turnpike toll collection and unified gubernatorial tickets. The switchblade provision, House Bill 1911, by Rep. J.P. Jordan, R-Yukon, passed without much serious discussion. Not so Rep. Glen Mulready’s toll collection measure, HB 1568.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Wine Shipment Vote Unlikely This Year

A resolution calling for a popular vote on whether Oklahoma wineries may ship wine to visitors is on hold. Rep. Dan Kirby asked his resolution calling for the vote be laid over. He seemed frustrated after facing a flurry of questions from Reps. Mike Ritze and Todd Russ, who vehemently oppose relaxing alcohol laws.

Read more from NewsOK.

House Rejects Bill Amendment to Give Retired Firefighters Pension Increase

Oklahoma House members shoot down a bill amendment to give retired firefighters a cost-of-living adjustment. The House passed a bill to require the state firefighters pension board to use IRS guidelines in evaluating rollovers.

See more from Public Radio Tulsa.

History Hysteria: How Oklahoma’s Teachers Are Tackling The AP U.S. History Course

Oklahoma lawmakers are criticizing the new outline for the high school Advanced Placement United States history courses, saying it doesn’t emphasize key figures in American history and that it focuses on a negative view of the country. But history teachers say otherwise. Educators say they are experiencing more freedom – not less – with the new framework.

Read more from KGOU.

Vision 2025 surplus to fund Sand Springs park, Glenpool water tower, building update in Collinsville

The Tulsa County Vision Authority approved $5.4 million in projects for Sand Springs, Collinsville and Glenpool on Wednesday that will be funded with surplus Vision 2025 tax collections. The projects include improvements to the Sand Springs Expressway and River City Park in Sand Springs; two plazas and the renovation of the American Legion building in Collinsville; and a new water tower in Glenpool.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

“The federal minimum wage, which applies in Oklahoma, has been stuck at $7.25 for six years. It has been eroding in value even longer, falling by 30 percent since 1979 when adjusted for inflation. Stagnant low-end wages leave a growing number of working families unable to afford their basic needs and fuel growing income inequality. It also means more families have to turn to public supports like Medicaid and food stamps to get by, amounting to a huge subsidy of low-paying employers by American taxpayers.”

– Executive Director David Blatt, writing on the need for a minimum wage hike in his Journal Record column (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans age 18-64 who receive Social Security disability assistance.

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Bitter cold temperatures push some Americans toward poverty line

On this Sunday’s PBS NewsHour Weekend, we took a closer look at the difficulties some low-income Americans face during winter months, when higher-than-usual energy bills put an enormous strain on family finances. We chose the topic in part because it illustrates a direct connection between federal policy and the experience of Americans who are recipients of often-limited government aid. We also wanted to understand how communities like Asheville, N.C., in a time of budget cuts, are combining resources and relying on a combination of public and private efforts to keep poor families warm this winter season.

Read more from PBS.

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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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