In The Know: Difficult budget year ahead | Virus rates among young growing | COVID-19 positive health care workers can keep working

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

We’re hiring for a Justice Data Analyst: OK Policy is now hiring for a Justice Data Analyst. The Justice Data Analyst will use Open Justice Oklahoma’s (OJO) database of court, prison, and jail records to open the black box of our justice system. Working closely with the Research Director, the Justice Data Analyst will identify and prioritize research projects, analyze proprietary data sets, develop and document methodologies, and communicate findings to internal and external audiences. Click here to learn more and apply.

Oklahoma News

State lawmakers face an ‘incredibly difficult budget year’ with a long road to recovery: State lawmakers face the potential of a significant budget shortfall next year and lengthy recovery that some worry could return Oklahoma to its recent era of cuts that saw schools, hospitals and law enforcement agencies make drastic moves to reduce spending. But some budget observers believe the financial pain of next year isn’t likely to go away quickly, even if the pandemic begins to subside by spring. “I would be more concerned about what happens after Fiscal Year 2022 than what happens in Fiscal Year 2022,” said Paul Shinn, the budget and tax senior policy analyst at the Oklahoma Policy Institute. “Regardless of the short term issues, we are in for a long recovery over the next five to 10 years.” [The Frontier]

  • School funding outlook distressing in an already difficult year [Oklahoma Watch]

Young see largest increase in COVID-19 case rates since October, Tulsa World analysis shows: In the past two months, Oklahoma children ages 5 to 14 have outpaced all the other age groups in new COVID-19 case rates, but state officials say it’s more important to note that the entire state population is currently seeing high infection rates. [Tulsa World]

Asymptomatic health care workers with COVID-19 allowed to continue working in Oklahoma: The Oklahoma State Department of Health is allowing health care workers who have tested positive for COVID-19, but aren’t exhibiting symptoms of the virus, to continue working at hospitals and long-term care facilities. But the Oklahoma Nurses Association opposes allowing asymptomatic COVID-19 positive nurses to continue working, and called the recommendation a “reckless” solution to the state’s staffing shortage. [The Oklahoman]

  • Tulsa hits Tier 3 for COVID-19 surge: How are local hospitals dealing? [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma health officials ‘amplify’ guidance allowing coronavirus-infected health professionals to skip quarantine and work [StateImpact Oklahoma

Health News

A $2,700 bill for a COVID-19 test turns up the heat on a health care industry dispute: Carolyn Coburn didn’t really know the going rate for a COVID-19 test, but she was pretty sure $2,715 was too much. And she was darn sure her late husband, U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, would think so, too. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma ACA health care premiums are lowest in years, but will COVID-19 impact sign-ups?: Oklahomans will have more choices and the most affordable health insurance options in years through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace. Thanks in part to a record-number of insurers offering plans in Oklahoma for coverage that starts Jan. 1, the average monthly benchmark premiums on the federal exchange are down more than 20% from a record high in 2019. [Oklahoma Watch]

Op-Ed: Intimate partner violence is an ‘epidemic within an epidemic’: That is how a recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine characterized the increase in intimate partner violence during COVID-19. Experts have voiced similar concerns about the rise in other types of family violence, including child abuse and elder abuse. [Op-Ed / Tulsa World]

McAlester hospital’s environmental services contract sparks call for investigation: A McAlester business owner is pushing for a multicounty grand jury investigation into allegations of financial improprieties involving McAlester Regional Health Center. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Committed to serve: Oklahoma health commissioner take reins in pandemic after late military career: In May, Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed a soft-spoken former OB-GYN to lead the Oklahoma State Department of Health and its 2,700 employees. As Oklahoma’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Lance Frye, 57, has spent the past six months helping lead the state through the COVID-19 outbreak. [Tulsa World]

Brother, sister to serve in upper chamber for the first time in recent history: It will be a historic moment when lawmakers return to the Capitol in February. The upper chamber will have a brother and sister serving at the same time, a first in at least recent history. Sen. Jo Anna Dossett, D-Tulsa, will join her younger brother, Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, on the floor of the Senate. [Tulsa World]

New state seal to be installed in February: In February, the Capitol will get a new state seal on the ground floor. The bronze seal is 14 feet in diameter and weighs 3,000 pounds, said Trait Thompson, Capitol project manager. [Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Department of Corrections locks down prisons after assaults: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections on Friday locked down all facilities after more than 20 inmates were assaulted at three male prisons. The assaults occurred at North Fork Correctional Center, Jess Dunn Correctional Center and Oklahoma State Penitentiary. [The Oklahoman]

After shooting death of teen boy suspected of robbery, OKC police union issues statement supporting police: A top leader of the Oklahoma City police union issued a statement Friday supporting officers involved in the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy suspected in an armed robbery. On Nov. 23, Oklahoma City police shot and killed Stavian Rodriguez at Okie Gas Express, 7917 S Western Ave., where a clerk reported locking Rodriguez inside the store and fleeing to safety. [The Oklahoman] Response to Stavian Rodriguez death strains police-community relations [OKC Free Press]

Institute analyzing TPD’s community policing policy seeks applications for civilian ‘co-researchers’: A research institute the city of Tulsa selected back in July to evaluate its police department’s community policing efforts is seeking applications for civilian assistance. [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

Mental health CEO: Winter could bring ‘desperate, dramatic increase to homelessness’: As coronavirus cases continue to surge across the state, social distancing and isolation become increasingly important. But the precautions that protect our physical health are damaging the mental health of many Oklahomans, said Terri White, Chief Executive Officer of Mental Health Association Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Watch]

Oklahoma nonprofits will face ongoing funding problems from COVID-19 pandemic: With event cancellations and individual donations dwindling, Oklahoma’s nonprofits are preparing for possible financial turmoil because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Oklahoma has a robust network of nonprofits that play a significant role in the state’s social safety net, and the demand for services from food banks or housing agencies has skyrocketed. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Despite Fear in Oklahoma, Biden Likely Won’t Be ‘Banning’ Fracking: Contrary to Trump’s claims, which have been rated as false by several fact-checkers, Biden does not plan a wholesale ban on old or new fracking. His climate strategy includes a proposal to only cease approving new oil and gas permits on federal lands. [Oklahoma Watch]

Bill to repair ice storm damages on its way to customers: Electrical transmission and distribution systems, electric cooperatives and regulated investor-owned utilities like Oklahoma Gas and Electric and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma are self-insured. Whenever a storm like the one that thrashed the Oklahoma City area before Halloween strikes, that means utilities and their customers are on the hook for paying to make needed repairs. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

‘The timing was frustrating’: Districts want coordination on state-provided PPE: Although Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration provided about $10 million in personal protective equipment to Oklahoma school districts in August, some superintendents ultimately expressed frustration over the timing. [NonDoc]

School districts pleading for Oklahoma to curb COVID-19: As Oklahoma’s rates of COVID-19 skyrocket, school districts are begging the public to help keep their doors open. Many metro schools scrapped plans for in-person classes once Oklahoma County and the surrounding area soared past Red Level, the highest alert of community spread from the Oklahoma State Department of Education. [The Oklahoman]

General News

With new ‘language hub,’ Cherokee Nation hopes to make ancient language part of everyday life again: A generation ago, the Cherokee Nation still had small communities where the tribe’s ancient language could be heard in everyday life, spoken in casual conversations on the street instead of just in classrooms. [Tulsa World]

1867 vision for what’s now Oklahoma was an all-Black Territory of Lincoln: In retrospect, and probably even at the time, the chances of success were slim indeed: creation of an all-Black territory and eventually a state out of a hunk of the United States already deeded to American Indians and an object of lust for white settlers, cattlemen, land speculators and railroaders. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • With virtual meetings provision expired, Tulsa City Council to hold inauguration in council chambers [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Upgrades coming to OKC Thunder home Chesapeake Energy Arena [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

 “I would be more concerned about what happens after Fiscal Year 2022 than what happens in Fiscal Year 2022. Regardless of the short term issues, we are in for a long recovery over the next five to 10 years.”

-Paul Shinn, OK Policy’s Budget and Tax Senior Policy Analyst [The Frontier]

Number of the Day


Percentage of all Oklahoma children who have experienced two or more Adverse Childhood Experiences during 2017-2018. Of those, American Indian children had the highest rate at 37% followed by Black and Latinx children (both at 36%) and white children at 24%. 


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Adversity in Early Childhood: The pandemic and its economic and social fallout may have adverse effects in the lives of young children today, but these events are not unique. In the past 25 years, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners have focused on a subset of adverse events occurring in childhood, known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).9 These events are strongly associated with negative effects on a child’s physical, emotional, and social well-being throughout their life span.10 Little is known about the prevalence of adverse events during the developmentally sensitive early childhood period or how systemic inequities give rise to them early in life; however, it is known that their effects can last a lifetime. [Center for American Progress]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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