In The Know: Common-sense tax reform | Affordable housing, tenant protections, homelessness | Schools concerned about lost federal revenue

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

Oklahomans need common-sense tax reform: Fairness is a fundamental tenet of most Oklahomans’ beliefs: People should get equal pay for equal work and kids should have equal opportunity to succeed. Unfortunately, the state’s current tax system does not reflect this priority. Rather, our tax system asks too much from low- and middle-income Oklahomans, while letting higher-earners off the hook. While discussions of tax reform have increased in recent months, they haven’t been focused on making the state’s tax system fairer. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]

LOFT report shares opportunities to coordinate state’s behavioral health services (Capitol Update): An interesting behavioral health report was presented last week to the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) Oversight Committee, a joint House-Senate Committee chaired by their respective Appropriations Chairs. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Save Our Democracy: VOTE! | Sept. 20 online event to highlight Oklahoma’s voter registration activities: Together Oklahoma, the grassroots advocacy program for OK Policy, will host a virtual event on Sept. 20 to highlight voter registration activities across the state as part of National Voter Registration Day. “Save Our Democracy: Vote!” will be livestreamed on Tuesday, Sept. 20, via the Together Oklahoma website (, the OK Policy website (, and the social media channels for both organizations. [Together Oklahoma]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma City’s affordable housing stock continues to shrink while rents spike: Affordable housing in Oklahoma City is getting increasingly scarce. Out-of-state investors are driving up prices for single-family homes and multi-unit properties in the city, pushing low-income people out of the market. Oklahoma also has inviting eviction laws for out-of-state landlords, with few protections for renters. [The Frontier and The Oklahoman]

  • OKC asked to provide $2 million for new affordable housing across from fairgrounds [The Oklahoman]

‘Nowhere to go’: Skyrocketing rents and a 95% occupancy rate leave Tulsans without affordable housing: Tulsa’s rental occupancy rate is above 95%, pushing rents to record highs, according to local housing officials. By some estimates, the average Tulsa apartment now rents for $904 a month, up from $838 at the beginning of the year. [Tulsa World]

  • Housing insecurity leaves young artist in dark place after years of struggle in Tulsa [Tulsa World]
  • ‘We were that close’: Family feared homelessness amid affordable housing crisis in Tulsa [Tulsa World]

Organizations working to end homelessness need ‘basic building blocks’ to solve issues: As city officials review the issue of youth homelessness in Tulsa, one pressing question remains — what short- and long-term solutions is the city missing in its current approach? [Tulsa World]

  • ‘Homelessness in the shadows’: Youth population, though less visible, drives surge in Tulsa [Tulsa World]
  • Journey from foster care to homelessness: Young adult among many finding help, stability [Tulsa World]
  • Toddler experiencing homelessness in Tulsa endures emotional, developmental effects [Tulsa World]

Top official mulls rejecting fed funds as districts worry about lost revenue: Oklahoma’s secretary of education says it’s time for Oklahomans to have a “robust” discussion about the role federal funds play in local schools and to consider whether “strings attached” by Washington, D.C., politicians are worth it, even as school advocates warn that gutting federal funding will devastate urban and rural districts alike. [The Norman Transcript]

State Government News

Former Cabinet member files lawsuit: Former Governor Kevin Stitt cabinet member David Ostrowe is making good on his word to sue former Attorney General Mike Hunter and the Oklahoma Tax Commission. [KFOR]

Federal Government News

Can Buttigieg’s $1B plan help remove I-244 from the Historic Greenwood District’s ‘Black Wall Street?’: Many Historic Greenwood District residents and stakeholders hope even more can be done to transform their neighborhood. This year the Biden administration is launching a $1 billion initiative called Reconnecting Communities to undo some of the damage caused nationwide by the construction of the interstate system. [The Oklahoma Eagle]

Tribal Nations News

District court says Osage Reservation disestablished, Osage attorneys prepare for appeal: The district court judge for Osage County has ruled that the Osage Nation’s reservation no longer exists, but his decision is merely the first step in what is likely to be a lengthy legal battle. [Osage News]

  • Is the Osage Nation on a reservation? One court says no, but McGirt question isn’t settled [The Oklahoman]

Hoskin: Conversations crucial for tribe’s continued growth: In a pre-recorded State of the Nation address released Saturday, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin reiterated that while his tribe remains strong, it will require continued conversations to keep it that way. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Kevin Stitt, Joy Hofmeister to debate: Ahead of the November general election, Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and Democratic State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister have agreed to participate in an Oct. 19 gubernatorial debate co-hosted by NonDoc and News 9. [NonDoc]

Why Most Oklahoma State Legislative Races Are Uncontested: Oklahoma voters will decide only 31 of 101 House races and seven of 24 Senate on Nov. 8, a far cry from those 2018 midterms, when the statewide teacher walkout inspired more than 100 active and retired teachers, support staff and school board members to file for state legislative seats. [Oklahoma Watch]

Column: Limiting voice of the people not democratic: The process of limiting that right has begun. It happened in response to the temerity of some citizens to go over the Legislature’s and governor’s heads and take the issue right to the people. That issue was the expansion of Medicaid. They didn’t like the idea of using federal dollars to keep our rural hospitals open and to provide health insurance coverage to an additional 200,000 Oklahoma citizens. [Robert Lee Guest Column / Tahlequah Daily Press]

Column: Ballot initiative process should stay with citizens: According to Oklahoma Watch, our state is one of only 28 states that allows its citizens to initiate legislation. This lets the people of Oklahoma to bring legislation to the ballot to be voted on in an election, when the Legislature does not, or will not, enact the will of the people. But a recent proposal, Oklahoma House Joint Resolution 1002, would change the ballot initiative process. [Thomas Sanco Guest Column / Tahlequah Daily Press]

Economy & Business News

Federal funds to stimulate tech sectors in OKC, Tulsa: Oklahoma City and Tulsa have been named to receive multimillion-dollar infusions of federal funds to invest in their growing tech sector industries. [Journal Record]

Column: As Oklahomans mark Labor Day, work continues on licensure reform, critical job shortages: At the Oklahoma State Department of Labor we ensure that wages are paid, child labor laws are enforced, and people have safe environments to work in. A few things that we are currently excited about working on are occupational licensure reform and critical job shortages. [Leslie Osborn Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

OKC innovation district gets $35M grant to cut dependence on foreign pharmaceuticals: A bio-tech, medical and research coalition in Oklahoma City is getting a $35 million federal Economic Development Administration grant as part of efforts to build up drug development and manufacturing on U.S. soil and cut reliance on overseas production. [The Oklahoman]

McAlester Army Ammunition Plant could compete for hypersonic missile contract: As the world races to develop hypersonic weapons, officials hope to obtain a government contract to store such missiles at the southeast Oklahoma ammunition base. [The Norman Transcript]

Education News

Tulsa Public Schools Case Bolsters Legal Efforts Against Racially Discriminatory Law: The downgrading of Tulsa Public Schools accreditation has bolstered legal efforts to challenge the constitutionality of Oklahoma House Bill 1775, as a perceived violation of educators’ free speech. [The Oklahoma Eagle]

Column: Higher education deepens inequities, and government must fix it: There’s also no shortage of thoughts about the federal college loan forgiveness program from President Joe Biden that would knock off $10,000 to $20,000 for borrowers earning less than $125,000 annually. Those opinions have been steeped in political hyperbole, simplistic rhetoric, stereotypes and class warfare. [Ginnie Graham Column/ Tulsa World]

Column: Oklahoma’s workforce needs students to have literacy in learning: Many studies and test scores have shown that the reduced time in classrooms over this period of years has resulted in students being a bit behind where they should be in learning. Some students are more behind than others. [Drew Dugan / The Oklahoman]

Tulsa school board to begin consideration of redistricting: Several Tulsa Public Schools campuses will have new school board representation before the end of 2022, as the board is slated to have its first discussion about six redistricting proposals at Tuesday night’s meeting. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“It’s a horrible problem we’re facing. We just bury our heads in the sand and don’t give people needed protections. It’s not a fair fight. The landlord has all the power and the tenant has none.”

– Attorney Richard Klinge, director of the Pro-Bono Housing Eviction Assistance Program, speaking about the lack of legal protections for tenants in Oklahoma. [The Frontier]  | From OK Policy: Oklahoma should work towards true housing equity

Number of the Day


The poorest Oklahomans pay more than double their share of income in taxes compared to the wealthiest Oklahomans. Taxes represent 13.2% of share of family income for the lowest 20% of Oklahoma earners, while taxes represent 6.2% of family income for the state’s top 1%.
[Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

Policy Note

Low Tax for Whom? Oklahoma is a “Low Tax State” Overall, But Not for Families Living in Poverty: State legislators often lock themselves into a race to the bottom in pursuit of being labeled a “low tax state.” Analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau appears to lend support to Oklahoma’s reputation as a “low tax state.” But this narrow lens does not provide a full picture, as it overlooks the fact that Oklahoma’s tax system has vastly different impacts on taxpayers at different income levels. For low-income families, Oklahoma is far from being a low tax state; in fact, it is the fifth highest-tax state in the country for low-income families. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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