In The Know: Budget deal by next week; state worker raise; Medicaid petition challenged…

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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

OK Policy adds leading budget expert to policy team: Oklahoma Policy Institute today announced that Paul Shinn, a budget expert whose work has included extensive leadership roles in Oklahoma state and local government budget offices, will be joining the organization as a Senior Policy Analyst. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Paul Shinn as a full-time member of our staff,” said David Blatt, OK Policy’s Executive Director. “Nobody in the state has greater first-hand knowledge of budget issues than Paul, and he is also widely respected for his integrity, professionalism, and work ethic.” [OK Policy]

In The News

Stitt expects to announce a budget early next week: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday said he expects to announce a budget agreement by early next week. Stitt, serving his first term, is backing a $1,200 teacher pay raise, putting aside $200 million from growth revenue into savings and increases for state workers. [Tulsa World] Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat said Thursday that he’s found a way to allocate $200 million in new common education funding next fiscal year, which would include approximately $70 million for teacher pay raises and $130 million in new classroom funding. [NewsOK

OPEA asking for $2500 pay raise: The Oklahoma Public Employees Association said pay is so low, the turnover rate is 20 percent, except in the Department of Corrections, where turnover is 40 percent per year. They say public employees simply aren’t paid enough. [NewsOn6] State employee raise has support in House. [FOX25]

Oklahoma conservative group challenges Medicaid expansion petition: The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs filed a challenge Thursday against putting the question of Medicaid expansion on the ballot in 2020. The OCPA — an Oklahoma City-based conservative think tank — filed a challenge with the state Supreme Court, alleging an initiative petition seeking to bring Medicaid expansion to a statewide vote is unconstitutional because expanding federal health benefits in Oklahoma would allow the federal government to step on the duties of state lawmakers. [NewsOK]

Governor avoids questions on transparency after Senate committee meeting: Governor Kevin Stitt ran on a campaign promise of transparency. But Wednesday, he ran from News 9 cameras to avoid answering questions about transparency. Questions that came up as the Senate met to confirm the governor’s choice for budget secretary. [News9]

Downing nomination for U.S. attorney goes to full Senate: A former Oklahoma state legislator moved a step closer on Thursday to confirmation as U.S. attorney for the state’s western district, based in Oklahoma City. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Timothy J. Downing. Approval came on a voice vote with no debate. [NewsOK]

Gallery: Gov. Kevin Stitt signs 339 new laws, issues 8 vetoes; one controversial measure awaits his signature: Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed 201 Senate Bills into law, as well as 138 House Bills from the 2019 legislative session. He has vetoed eight measures. After first signing constitutional carry into law, Stitt has celebrated legislation on state agency controls and funding for economic development. [Tulsa World]

Impact of prescription drug legislation in question: A bill addressing prescription drug costs and the role of pharmacy benefit managers has a good chance of passing, House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Jon Echols said Thursday. That’s despite Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recent veto of a similar measure and resistance by the State Chamber of Oklahoma. [Journal Record 🔒]

Oklahoma Governor makes reforming fines and fees a priority: This week, Governor Kevin Stitt announced a number of Criminal Justice Reform priorities that he wants passed in the last weeks of session. This is a tremendous signal from the executive that criminal justice reform is a priority for the administration and should be applauded. [Right On Crime]

Oklahoma County deputies fear staffing cuts: Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office deputies are not opposed to a proposed jail trust, but they are fearful of what it may mean for their jobs. That’s the message sent by Sgt. Paul Harmon who spoke as a member of the Fraternal Order of Police Post No. 155 Thursday at Francis Tuttle Technology Center in northwest Oklahoma City. [NonDoc] Deputies with the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office are warning the community that funding for patrols in unincorporated areas and for school resource officers could eventually be cut. [FOX25]

Edmond schools investing $2.1 million to fund additional teaching positions: Edmond Public Schools announced that it plans to spend $2.1 million to fund additional positions to address student population growth, class sizes and the mental health needs of students. [KFOR]

Addressing a ‘well-earned lack of trust’: Bynum sets 1921 Tulsa race massacre graves investigation into motion: The mayor announced Thursday that the Mass Graves Investigation Public Oversight Committee will hold its first public meeting later this month to discuss the process to be undertaken by the city. The meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. May 23 at the 36th Street Event Center, 1125 E. 36th St. North. [Tulsa World] Plans for a $9 million renovation and expansion of the Greenwood Cultural Center to coincide with the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre were unveiled Thursday night at the center. [Tulsa World]

Contentious Cherokee Nation race for principal chief boiling over with election complaints against Hoskin Jr., Walkingstick: Potential financial misconduct or impropriety are at the heart of complaints lodged against two of the three campaigns for principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Chuck Hoskin Jr.’s campaign is under a microscope for campaign expenditures paid to his father’s company in predominantly rounded figures totaling more than half a million dollars for unspecified consulting fees. [Tulsa World]

Citizenship lawsuit by Muscogee (Creek) freedmen descendants dismissed: Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly with the District Court for the District of Columbia this week rejected arguments that going through the Muscogee (Creek) Nation court and administrative system would be an exercise in futility for the freedmen descendants and granted Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd’s motion to dismiss the case without prejudice. [Tulsa World]

OU, others decline to say if David Boren report given to OSBI: Despite paying at least $500,000 for a private law firm to investigate allegations of misconduct by former OU President David Boren, university officials and the Board of Regents’ attorney are declining to say whether they have turned over the report to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“There’s been a lot of talk about the additional money in the rainy day fund. But when you’re spending $137 million on turnover costs, to me the investment would be better to put into your employees.”

-Oklahoma Public Employees Association Executive Director Sterling Zearley, calling for a $2,500 raise for underpaid state workers [Source: OKC Fox]

Number of the Day

220% 

Percentage increase in meth related overdose deaths in Oklahoma from 2010 to 2017

[Source: Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs via The Frontier]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Meet the Canadian doctor who prescribes money to low-income patients: Gary Bloch became a doctor because he wanted to help people who were less privileged than him. For years, he tried his best to treat patients coping with poverty and homelessness. But no matter how many blood tests he ordered and prescriptions he wrote, many of his patients’ health problems persisted. He realized it was because he wasn’t addressing the issue that most plagued them: poverty. [Vox]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, she immigrated to Oklahoma with her family at a young age and obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma, a community organization dedicated to advocating and empowering immigrant youth in the state.

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