In The Know: Drought drains drinking water reservoirs in Oklahoma City

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.

Today you should know that another summer of drought has drained drinking water reservoirs in Oklahoma City.  An independent credit-research firm downgraded its rating on U.S. government debt.  Friends and family say goodbye to Oklahoma service members deploying to serve in Army aviation support in Afghanistan.

Oklahoma ranks second in the country in the number of consumer complaints logged about pet breeders.  Tulsa World editors explain why per-pupil education funding matters and reflect on the irony of a pro-business legislature with an underwhelming commitment to education and career tech.

A majority of Oklahomans earning a bachelor’s degree used the community college system.  A federal appeals court judge says Oklahoma regularly violates defendants’ constitutional rights in death-penalty trials.  An Oklahoma County judge has a stated policy of refusing name changes for transgender people.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of infant boys in Oklahoma that are circumcised.  In today’s Policy Note, The Atlantic examines a new report from the Congressional Research Service which found no evidence that cutting taxes spurs economic growth.

In The News

Second straight summer of drought hurts Oklahoma City reservoirs

The rainy start Thursday to the Oklahoma State Fair might not be the best of news for fairgoers, but the moisture means welcome relief for Oklahoma City’s beleaguered drinking water reservoirs. A second consecutive summer featuring a punishing drought led to more record-breaking water use by Oklahoma City utility customers this year, city Utilities Department spokeswoman Debbie Ragan said. Lake Hefner, Lake Overholser and Lake Stanley Draper are also all well below their normal levels.

Read more from NewsOK at 

Egan-Jones cuts US debt rating to AA- from AA

Egan-Jones, an independent credit-research firm, downgraded its rating on U.S. government debt to AA- from AA on Friday, citing the Federal Reserve’s plans to try to stimulate the economy. The credit rating agency said the Fed’s plans to buy mortgage bonds will likely hurt the economy more than help it.  The plan will weaken the value of the dollar and push up prices for oil and other commodities, Egan-Jones said. That would leave less for consumers to spend on other things.

Read more from the Associated Press at–from-aa/57783160/1

Families send off soldiers en route to Afghanistan

Members of Detachment 1, Company C, 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion were honored in a mobilization ceremony Sunday in Lexington. The soldiers will receive training at Fort Hood, Texas, before being deployed to Afghanistan.

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Oklahoma second only to Missouri in complaints about puppy breeders

Oklahoma ranks second in the country in the number of puppy-buyer complaints logged about breeders, a report from The Humane Society of the United States states.   The five-year study, conducted from 2007 through 2011, says that 109 people from Oklahoma complained about their pet purchases from breeders, trailing only Missouri, at 332, Humane Society spokeswoman Rebecca Basu said.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

With education as with almost all things, quality costs

Barresi and others who are reluctant to push for increased education funding can come up with an example or two that seem to support their argument that school performance is not related to education funding.   But a much stronger argument can be made that there is a real connection between the two.   And there is this: Schools that are starved for money will never be able to pay salaries that attract and retain the best and brightest teachers. And hard-gained reforms, such as the class-size caps included more than 10 years ago in the historic education funding and reform measure known as H.B. 1017, go by the wayside when districts cannot hire enough teachers to maintain them.  With education as with almost all things, quality costs.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma public education goes wanting

If the past four years are any guide, the Legislature is not going to bend over backward looking for more money for education.  You cannot be pro-business unless you’re pro-education.  Oh, yes you can. So far, the Legislature is proving it.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Majority of Oklahoma bachelor’s degree earners attended community college, study shows

A new report shows that students like Gonzalez make up the majority of Oklahoma’s undergraduates.  The report comes from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center as a part of a series of snapshot reports dealing with student mobility. According to the report, 58 percent of students who receive a bachelor’s degree in Oklahoma have credit from a community college on their transcripts.  Nationwide, 45 percent of students take courses at community colleges before receiving their bachelor’s degrees. Although Oklahoma is above average in that regard, Texas tops the list, with 78 percent of bachelor’s degree holders having at least some community college credit.

Read more from NewsOK at

US judge’s opinion sparks debate of Okla. practice

“I would halt the Oklahoma prosecutors’ systematic abuse of the federal Constitution,” Lucero’s opinion states. “As I note herein, state prosecutors and courts have developed a pattern and practice of non-compliance with — if not outright ignoring of — United States Supreme Court precedent that specifically prohibits eliciting from a relative of the victim an opinion as to whether the death penalty should be imposed.”

Read more from the Associated Press at

Oklahoma judge refuses to let men planning sex-change operations have feminine names

“To grant a name change in this case would be to assist that which is fraudulent,” Graves wrote. “It is notable that Genesis 1:27-28 states: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth …’ The DNA code shows God meant for them to stay male and female.”  The judge also wrote about not wanting to be “complicit in legitimizing sex changes through changes of names.”

Read more from NewsOK at

Quote of the Day

I’m not surprised.  It kind of verifies what we already knew. We have a problem in Oklahoma.

Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma state director for the Humane Society, on a national report ranking Oklahoma 2nd in the number of complaints logged by consumers about disreputable breeders or ‘puppy mills’

Number of the Day

77 percent

Percentage of infant boys in Oklahoma that are circumcised – compared to 55 percent nationally – 10th most among the states in 2009

Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine via

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Tax Cuts Don’t Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds

Does this story prove that raising taxes helps GDP? No. Does it prove that cutting taxes hurts GDP? No.  But it does suggest that there is a lot more to an economy than taxes, and that slashing taxes is not a guaranteed way to accelerate economic growth.

Read more from The Atlantic at

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