In The Know: Education proposals at impasse | Staffer: Department of Ed grants stalled under Walters’ administration | Who would oversee voucher tax credits?

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.

Oklahoma News

After mediation, GOP leaders roughly $50 million apart from education deal: After nearly three months of acrimonious negotiations between the House and the Senate over a massive education funding and reform package, leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature have made significant progress toward a deal that would pump upwards of $600 million into public education and create new refundable tax credits for private school and homeschool families. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma Gov. Stitt says education funding agreement is close, but Senate leader says not so fast [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Education funding deal between lawmakers, governor falls apart [Tulsa World]
  • Gov. Stitt, Legislators Discuss Tax Cuts & Education Bills [News 9]

Federal grants are stalled at Oklahoma education department, former staff say: While telling lawmakers they wouldn’t consider federal grants that don’t align with “Oklahoma values,” leadership within the state Department of Education said internally they would avoid any grants with elements of diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ initiatives, social-emotional learning or trauma-informed practices, the agency’s former grant writer said. [The Oklahoman]

  • Longtime grant writer says Ryan Walters lied to lawmakers, federal grant money for Oklahoma in jeopardy [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma Private School Tax Credit Oversight Mostly Unknown: As Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature fight over details on additional school funding and teacher pay raises, one piece that seems all but assured of passage is the state’s first refundable tax credit for private school expenses. [Oklahoma Watch]

Podcast: Richard Glossip, education funding stalemate, Nathan Dahm and more: This Week in Oklahoma Politics discuss the U.S. Supreme Court staying the execution of death row inmate Richard Glossip, the stalemate over education funding with two weeks left in the regular legislative session and the stack of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s vetoes still waiting for a vote in the House and Senate. [This Week in Oklahoma Politics / KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

Oklahoma court affirms Ottawa, Peoria reservations still exist: The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the existence of the Ottawa and Peoria tribal reservations on Thursday in a decision that should ease jurisdictional confusion in a section of Ottawa County. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

The COVID public health emergency is over in the US. Here’s what that means for you.: Thursday marks the end of the public health emergency in the United States, more than three years after it was first declared to combat the novel coronavirus by unlocking powerful tools to detect and contain the emerging threat. While it closes a chapter in history, health experts point out the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over as the virus continues to claim about 1,000 lives each week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To date, more than 1.1 million people in the country have died. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Column: Oklahoma’s political leaders need to adopt a moratorium on executions: Is the time ripe for a moratorium on executions in Oklahoma? We think so and urge Oklahoma political leaders to implement one immediately. Just last year, Oklahoma scheduled 25 executions to occur within 29 months. Several executions have since occurred. Yet, serious doubts about the state’s capital punishment system continually confront Oklahoma. [Brad Henry and Andy Lester Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Education News

Opinion: Ryan Walters, stop the negative rhetoric, unkind remarks. You’ve an example to set:  In a world where uncivil discourse is rampant, shouldn’t our state leaders, at the very least, teach our young people how to engage in a civil conversation without name calling and utter disrespect? Ryan Walters is in a position of leadership and power and our students are impressionable. Through his speech, he reinforced to our Oklahoma FFA students that disrespect is OK and making fun of people is honored. [Sherry Martin / The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“The new leadership team is not moving on anything. They won’t approve anything. They won’t sign contracts. No work is actually happening. When work shuts down, everything is in jeopardy.”

– Terri Grissom, the former director of grant development at the Oklahoma State Department of Education, saying State Superintendent Ryan Walters lied to lawmakers about education grant activities under his administration. She shared concerns that current and future federal grant funding for Oklahoma public school students is in jeopardy. [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day

$235-$293 million 

Amount of lost revenue if lawmakers cut Oklahoma’s personal income tax by .25%. This is revenue that likely couldn’t be recovered due to SQ 640’s supermajority requirements to raise new revenue. [OK Policy

Policy Note

The Real Impact of State Tax Cuts: Tax cuts being considered by states will deplete the funding available for schools, infrastructure, health care and other public services. They will worsen inequality by making state tax codes less equitable and enriching those at the very top of the income scale. Meanwhile, there will be cuts to public assets that are crucial for poor and middle-class families and less money for teachers in the classroom and for public safety personnel, which means longer wait times for emergency response. But the impact of this anti-tax agenda goes beyond the bounds of budget policy, to the very core of our democracy. [Route Fifty]

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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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