In The Know: GOP confronts another failed tax experiment in Oklahoma

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.

In The News

GOP confronts another failed tax experiment in Oklahoma: Oklahoma’s woes offer the ultimate cautionary tale for other states considering trickle-down economic reforms. The outlook is so grim that some Republicans are willing to consider the ultimate heresy: raising taxes to fund education and health care, an idea that was once the exclusive province of Democrats. [AP] Congressional tax plan takes Oklahoma’s budget mess national [OK Policy]

Senate leaders vow another vote on revenue package to support teacher raises: Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz expects to try again to secure approval of a revenue package to fund a 12.7 percent teacher hike. Late Wednesday, the Senate passed the pay hike, but the measure to fund it failed by two votes to garner the supermajority of 36 votes needed for revenue-raising bills. [Tulsa World] Fed Up With Low Pay, Oklahoma Teachers Prepare to Walk Out [Education Week] Oklahoma has many good options to resolve the teacher walkout [OK Policy]

State of Oklahoma: Why are we failing?: Oklahomans help Oklahomans. But in too many ways and by too many measures Oklahoma is failing. In areas of criminal justice, health, poverty and education, the state is in crisis, ranking among the worst — if not the worst in the nation. [The Oklahoman]

A teacher pay raise could change Oklahoma’s middle class — and the state’s place nationwide: While the effect of a teacher pay raise would matter a lot for some and less for other teachers, it would be a wage boost to a sector of the workforce that has barely seen its spending power grow since the teacher walkout in 1990. [Tulsa World] Teacher pay is falling. Their health insurance costs are rising [Vox] 2018 Policy Priority: Increase Teacher Pay [OK Policy]

Why aren’t the people on Medicaid working? Because, for the most part, they’re children: Why aren’t the people on Medicaid working? Well, in Oklahoma, most of them aren’t working because they’re children. Sixty-six percent of the people in Oklahoma’s Medicaid program are 18 or younger. [Wayne Greene/Tulsa World] Oklahoma ​should avoid the temptation to pass new Medicaid​ restrictions [OK Policy]

“It’s all interconnected,” Oklahoma representative says education funding plays bigger role in other state issues: An Oklahoma representative says he believes that funding education will not only appease teachers, but it could also help solve a lot of other issues facing the state. Rep. Forrest Bennett, D- Oklahoma City, made the argument while fighting against House Bill 1270, which seeks to reform the state’s Medicaid program. [KFOR]

Pay raise means Oklahoma teachers would earn ‘a lot more’ than college instructors: “If the public schools get the pay raise, they’ll be making a lot more money than my folks will,” said Jack Bryant, president of Redlands Community College in El Reno. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma already led the nation in cuts to K-12 education. Now we lead in cuts to higher ed too. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma can avoid a statewide teachers’ strike, but not if the Legislature keeps screwing around: We have 14 days — two weeks — until thousands of Oklahoma teachers will walk away from their jobs, bringing children’s educations to a halt and creating havoc for Oklahoma families from border to border. It doesn’t have to happen; but unfortunately, a solution relies on the Oklahoma legislators, who are best at doing nothing or, alternatively, doing next to nothing and claiming they’re hard at work. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

Oklahoma unemployment worsens in metro areas: Preliminary data released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor indicates a slight worsening in jobless rates across Oklahoma and its four metro areas from December 2017 to January 2018. [The Oklahoman]

Fallin Weighs in on Teacher Raise, Possible Walkout: Fallin said all funding options are on the table but a plan could be hard to come by. “Because it’s been very difficult with having to get a revenue measure that requires 75 percent of the vote in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. We haven’t been able to make that yet,” Fallin said. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Why the lottery is not helping Oklahoma education as much as you think it should: When the lottery first came to Oklahoma, many believed it would help fund education across the state. The truth is, the lottery has helped some, but with budgets being slashed in recent years, Oklahomans haven’t been able to see much of a difference. [KFOR] Why didn’t the lottery solve Oklahoma’s education funding problems? [OK Policy]

Despite voter frustration, House very likely to look the same next year: Despite talk of widespread dissatisfaction with the Oklahoma Legislature, three quarters of the House members running for re-election have yet to draw a challenge. Among those who don’t have opponents are the people who run the House: Speaker Charles McCall and the top three members of his Republican leadership team. [The Oklahoman]

Students prepare to rally at the Oklahoma Capitol for gun reform: Students are planning to rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol demanding change in gun laws. “Giving these teachers more responsibility is not the answer. They did not sign up to be my bodyguard. They signed up to teach me calculus,” Edmond North High School Senior Mykaela Salcido said. [KFOR]

Take it from a former foster child, you are the solution to the foster care crisis: The Tulsa County foster care system is in dire need of homes. At this time, there are about 490 foster homes in Tulsa County, and that simply is not enough to accommodate the more than 2,000 children each year who come from confirmed abuse cases, not to mention the children from previous years who are still in foster care. [Glen Evans/Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“There’s not a big difference between a college professor’s pay and a K-12 teacher. It ends up being the same problem as the teacher pay. We’ve cut and cut and cut. At some point we’re going to have to invest in education — pre-K through college.”

Senator Greg McCortney (R-Ada) on the low starting pay for professors at two-year colleges – not much higher than the salaries of K-12 teachers (Source)

Number of the Day


Percent of the Oklahoma high school class of 2016 that dropped out, down from 9.7% for the class of 2012


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

More Imprisonment Does Not Reduce State Drug Problems: Although no amount of policy analysis can resolve disagreements about how much punishment drug offenses deserve, research does make clear that some strategies for reducing drug use and crime are more effective than others and that imprisonment ranks near the bottom of that list. And surveys have found strong public support for changing how states and the federal government respond to drug crimes. [Pew Charitable Trusts]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.