In The Know: FY 2020 Budget Highlights; Higher ed cuts hit regional universities; Stitt ends state agency lobbying contracts…

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

New analysis of Oklahoma’s FY 2020 state budget: For a second year in a row, the budget approved by Oklahoma lawmakers increases funding significantly from the year before. However, for much of state government, there is still a long way to go before Oklahoma restores funding to where it was before the Great Recession in 2009. If you want to know how Oklahoma is prioritizing key public services, check out the new edition of our annual Budget Highlights report. [OK Policy]

End of Session Health Care Round-Up: We’ve seen worse, but still no expansion: Perhaps the best thing that can be said about this year’s legislative session from a health care perspective is that, refreshingly, this was the first in recent years that didn’t include a full-scale attack on access to SoonerCare. The legislature once again chose not to expand health care to more than 100,000 low-income Oklahomans and slashed important regulations around dangerous health coverage products. However, it made small steps towards some consumer protections and continued last year’s trend of slowly reversing years of underfunding. [OK Policy]

In The News

Oklahoma’s higher education cuts have hit harder at regional universities: Oklahoma has slashed funding for higher education by over 25 percent since 2008. In response, each public university has raised tuition, but the cuts have had a disproportionate effect on the state’s 11 regional institutions and the students they serve. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Stitt talks budget during Ada meet and greet: For the first time in state history, lawmakers added $200 million to the state’s savings account to protect essential services in the future, Gov. Kevin Stitt said Monday. Stitt said the state had $422 million in savings when he took office in January, but that amount will rise to $1.1 billion by the end of the next fiscal year. He added that his ultimate goal is to boost that amount to $2 billion. [Ada News]

Stitt to end $1.5 million in state agency lobbying contracts: State agencies in Oklahoma spent about $1.5 million each of the past two years on lobbying contracts with private firms, but Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration intends to take that amount to $0. [NonDoc] The governor in January issued an executive order saying that for the duration of the fiscal year, no more lobbyist contracts could be issued without the permission of cabinet secretaries. [Tulsa World]

Gov. Kevin Stitt: Becoming a Top 10 State: We are past the first session of the 57th Legislature, and I can confidently say that this administration has hit the ground running on delivering accountability, transparency and results. As your governor, I am committed to delivering a customer-centered government that is efficient and focused on delivering measurable outcomes with your hard earned tax dollars. [Gov. Kevin Stitt / Claremore Daily Progress]

Doctor says drug company marketing messages acted like a virus: Pharmaceutical companies have spread their influence like a “virus,” infiltrating sources of educational information that doctors rely on and encouraging them to prescribe more opioids, a Kentucky pain management specialist testified Thursday. [NewsOK]

Wineries, distillers sue the state of Oklahoma: A group of high-profile wineries and distillers have sued the state, alleging lawmakers are already trying to undo voter-approved liquor modernization reforms. Senate Bill 608, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt, would require the Top 25 brands to sell to every wholesaler in the state, he said. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Norman police investigating death of former state lawmaker: Police are investigating the fatal shooting of a former state senator. Jonathan Nichols’ body was found in his Norman home, and a gun was on a table across the room, law enforcement sources told The Oklahoman. [The Oklahoman] At the time of his death, Nichols was working as a senior policy advisor for House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka). [NonDoc]

Nonprofit provides support to moms, families during pregnancy, postpartum: Postpartum Support International’s Oklahoma Chapter provides support to women and their families who may be struggling with postpartum depression or other perinatal mood and-or anxiety disorders. [Tahleqhuah Daily Press]

Building boom shows Cushing oil hub hasn’t lost its allure: America’s largest oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, is growing even as producers and traders look to move surging West Texas production to the coast for export. The U.S. petroleum industry is planning to build about 4.8 million barrels of storage capacity and as many as seven new pipelines to move oil to and from the hub. [Bloomberg]

New program At OU continues education for individuals with disabilities: In the past, high school graduation marked the end of many opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities. As their peers went on to college, trade school, or work, those in special education classes were often left behind. [News9]

Oral Roberts University Pays $300K in Recruiting Settlement: The Department of Justice has announced a settlement with Oral Roberts University in which the school will pay more than $300,000 to resolve whistleblower allegations that it broke federal law in the way it paid a recruiting company. [AP News]

deadCenter Film Festival video: OKC filmmaker Cacky Poarch advocates for education funding with ‘Faces of the 47th’: One of the founders of the deadCenter Film Festival, Cacky Poarch returns to the 19th annual fest this year with a passion project that’s literally putting a face on the issue of Oklahoma education funding: “Faces of the 47th.” [The Oklahoman]

With Dreamers’ status still in question, faith leaders call for Congressional action: Faith leaders are urging Congress to pass legislation to protect an estimated 690,000 DACA recipients, about 7,000 of them in Oklahoma, after the House on Tuesday passed HR 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019. [Enid News & Eagle]

Chickasaw Nation governor, son elected to 4-year term: Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby will serve a ninth consecutive four-year term as the tribe’s leader, this time with his son as his lieutenant governor. Tribal election officials said Anoatubby and Chris Anoatubby, his son, were officially elected by a one-vote margin late Wednesday after no challengers filed at the close of the election filing period. [AP News]

Federal funding for Oklahoma airports falls: Eligible Oklahoma airports will receive substantially less funding from a federal program aimed at improving public airports. Under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, Oklahoma airports are eligible to receive $18.2 million this year, the lowest since 2000. Since then, Oklahoma’s annual funding from the program has ranged between $26 million and $53 million. [Journal Record 🔒]

Quote of the Day

“A lot of students struggle to pay for everything. The Resource Room allows that spending that students were going to be doing on food to go to other things, most likely their tuition.”

-Michael Payne, who oversees a program at Northeastern State University where any student can get free food, clothing, toiletries, and school supplies [State Impact Oklahoma]

Number of the Day

$504.8 million

Value of exports to Mexico from Oklahoma (2016).

[Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The struggle to hire and keep doctors in rural areas means patients go without care: Rural hospitals are in decline. Over 100 have closed since 2010 and hundreds more are vulnerable. As of December 2018, there were more than 7,000 areas in the U.S. with health professional shortages, nearly 60 percent of which were in rural areas. [NPR]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she 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.

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