In The Know: Board of Education approves $47 million budget cut, other updates | DA: Oklahoma’s mental health system needs to be rebuilt | Protecting vital state revenue | More

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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy 

Opinion: Cutting revenue by eliminating personal income tax is quick route in race to nation’s bottom: Many of us share a vision of an Oklahoma that invests in the well-being of our communities and creates a robust business climate that supports growing companies while also being inviting enough to attract new companies that choose to operate here. However, when some elected officials call for eliminating the personal income tax, this undermines Oklahoma’s potential by getting rid of about one-third of the funding for the shared services that turn this vision into a reality. [Emma Morris Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma State Board of Education approves budget request of $47 million less than last year: The Oklahoma State Board of Education met Thursday and voted unanimously to endorse a legislative budget request that was $47 million less than it received last year. [The Oklahoman]

  • State Board of Education hears TPS update, approves budget request and gender rule [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma State Department of Education makes uncommon ask for budget cut [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Oklahoma State Board of Education bars students from changing gender on school records without board approval [KOCO]
  • Proposed Education Budget Has More Bonuses for Teachers and Tutors [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Tulsa Public Schools provides first update to State Board of Education [Tulsa World]
  • OK Supt. Ryan Walters rolls out proposed budget request, a decrease from last year’s education appropriation [KOKH]
  • Oklahoma Board of Education, superintendent meet amid school district investigation [KOCO]
  • State Board Of Education Meeting: What Was Discussed? [News 9]
  • Education Department proposes budget cut [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Public access remains limited at Oklahoma State Board of Education meetings [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Ryan Walters draws protesters at Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Upcoming special session could be “colossal failure” if the Governor doesn’t have a plan for tax cuts, Senate leader tells FOX 25: Since the Governor’s call, Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat has called it “vague” and has asked for the Governor’s plan. He told FOX 25’s Shelby Love he doesn’t think they cut the state income tax in a special session like the Governor wants. [KOKH]

‘It’s not right’: Black-owned businesses claim federal food programs were fined, shut down: Black-owned community centers and day care food programs that say they were unfairly fined and shut down for what they’re calling perceived deficiencies are filing complaints against the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition Programs. [KFOR]

Opinion: More questions than answers as lawmakers probe new transportation tax: Oklahoma leaders continue to rely heavily on the revenue generated from the state’s 20-cent gas tax to fund needed repairs to roads and bridges. But as it turns out, legislators have been quietly exploring the idea of taxing Oklahoma drivers per mile instead of at the gas pump. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics Podcast: Special session looming, Amazon lawsuit, artificial intelligence and more: This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU’s Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and Civil Rights Attorney Ryan Kiesel about lawmakers returning to the capital next week for a special session on tax reform, a new poll showing strong support for tribal governments in the state, and Oklahoma joining other states and the federal government in an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon. [KOSU]

Federal Government News

‘That’s not how you get to a balanced budget,’ Lucas says of government shutdown threat: Third District Congressman Frank Lucas is the only member of Oklahoma’s current delegation who was there for the epic government shutdown battles of the mid-1990s. As such, Lucas has some observations about the apparent stalemate rocketing the federal government toward another shutdown Saturday night. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

Leaders of more than half of Oklahoma’s tribal nations want to work with the governor, but they have one condition: More than half of the tribal nations in the state sent a letter to the legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt, asking to come back to the table and negotiate on the issue of tribal-state compacts. [KOSU]

Attorney: Muscogee Nation court ruling for freedmen citizenship status is ‘powerful moment’ against discrimination: Muscogee Nation freedmen descendants and their supporters for tribal citizenship celebrated a legal victory Thursday during a press conference in Tulsa. Speaking at the Greenwood Cultural Center, attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons and others hailed a tribal court order issued Wednesday, which backs two Creek freedmen descendants’ bid for Muscogee Nation citizenship. [Tulsa World]

  • ‘Big win’: Muscogee Nation judge rules for Freedmen citizenship, tribe plans appeal [NonDoc]

Bynum, Hoskin tout their working relationship as Cherokee Nation gives Tulsa $150,000 grant: Mayor G.T. Bynum and Cherokee Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. announced a $150,000 grant from the Cherokee Nation to the city of Tulsa at a Thursday press conference at City Hall. [Tulsa World]

Health News

‘Demolished’ Oklahoma mental health system needs to be rebuilt, says DA Kunzweiler: Oklahoma’s mental health infrastructure has been “totally demolished” and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma State Department of Health receives grant for mothers during Medicaid unwinding: The Oklahoma State Department of Health received about $170,000 to support new mothers and their families during the Medicaid redetermination process. [KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

Former Lucky Star CEO indicted for CARES Act fraud: Brian Lee Foster, 54, was sentenced to two years in federal prison on Wednesday for his role in a Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act fraud scheme, according to U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester. [KFOR]

Economy & Business News

Lithium-ion battery recycling plant in Bartlesville to start operations next year: State officials celebrated on Thursday as Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that Oklahoma has won out over Texas for a lithium battery recycling facility coming next year. [Tulsa World]

  • Blue Whale Materials commits to building a battery recycling facility in Bartlesville at Oklahoma City event with Gov. Stitt [KOSU]

Education News

Ryan Walters asked for tips on inappropriate material in Oklahoma schools, people sent jokes and jeers: Thousands of tips came in during the first week, but almost none were real. People sent subscriptions to LGBTQ+ news, song lyrics and part of the script of the Bee Movie. [The Frontier]

Tulsa Public Schools ended Chinese language program weeks before Oklahoma Superintendent’s Congressional testimony: State Superintendent Ryan Walters testified earlier this month to Congress on the issue of Tulsa Public Schools’ contract with a Chinese language program. But according to the district, its contract was canceled nearly a month before Walters’ testimony. [KOSU]

  • ‘Not one dime’: Charter school CEO pushes back against Ryan Walters’ Chinese government claim [KOKH]

General News

Oklahoma lawmaker wants to turn State Fair into Wild West: Days after a teenager was arrested for shooting another teen at the Oklahoma State Fair, one Oklahoma lawmaker believes the solution is to flood the fair with more guns. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Vote over millions for local nonprofits postponed as Crutcher Foundation, absences discussed [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Oklahoma City launches NBA arena campaign ahead of December vote [The Oklahoman]
  • Developers plan electric vehicle-ready subdivision in Northwest Oklahoma City [KOSU]
  • Olympics crowds in OKC? SEC fans coming to downtown? Your questions answered [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Reducing or eliminating the personal income tax would directly undermine the state’s efforts to become a true Top 10 state.”

– Emma Morris, OK Policy Fiscal & Health Care Policy Analyst [Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Number of Indian Boarding Schools that have been identified as operating in Oklahoma. These schools operated from the 1800s and sought to strip Native American children of their culture and language as part of assimilation efforts. [National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition]

Policy Note

Indian Boarding Schools: An Important Beginning to a Years-Long Reckoning: The leader of the nonprofit Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS), the organization at the helm of truth and healing work around Indian boarding schools for more than 10 years, says the work of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative over the past year has been an important beginning to what will ultimately be a years-long process. [Native News Online] | [Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report, Vol. 1 (2022)]

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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.

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