In The Know: Gov. Fallin says fiscal cliff would cost the state $137M

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 Gov. Fallin says Oklahoma will lose an estimated $137 million in federal funding, including $50 million for education and $40 million for health care, if Congress can’t reach an agreement to avoid mandatory budget cuts.  There is significant confusion among public officials about how to comply with the state’s Open Meeting and Open Records acts.

The executive director of the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust says a new national report on tobacco use prevention and cessation shows Oklahoma is “on the right track.”   The Oklahoma State Department of Education has a new testing contract, after canceling the first contract and rebidding, to avoid protestations over the contracts validity.  

An economist told business leaders at an OSU conference that the state will continue to experience economic growth in the next year.  Expanding access to microcredit can help empower companies employing 5 or fewer workers – which make up 88 percent of Oklahoma’s businesses.  Oklahoma works to keep Native languages alive in schools.

In today’s Policy Note, Economic Policy Institute looks at the job losses in store for the clean-energy sector if mandatory ‘sequestration’ cuts go through.  The Number of the Day is the number of state and federal prisoners in Oklahoma being held in private prison facilities.  

In The News

Fallin: States need flexibility for fiscal cliff

Fallin, who served two terms in the U.S. House before she was elected governor in 2010, said falling off the fiscal cliff will create holes in the budgets of every state. She said Oklahoma will lose an estimated $137 million in federal funding, including $50 million for education and $40 million for health care as the state prepares to comply with new mandates in the federal health care overhaul law. “We have shared concerns that if they don’t resolve the fiscal cliff, that would be a huge detriment not only to our states and our economies and jobs and our revenue, but certainly for our nation,” she said. Fallin said stalled negotiations over avoiding the fiscal cliff are already having an impact in the state as businesses put off major spending decisions because of uncertainty about what will happen in Washington, D.C.

Read more from the Associated Press at

Open Records workshop for public is well-attended by public officials, too
Most of the questions posed during Thursday’s public workshop on the state’s Open Meeting and Open Records acts could have had one simple answer, Oklahoma First Assistant Attorney General Tom Bates said. “I think people overthink it too much,” he said. “As I say in the presentation, the spirit of the laws is openness, and if you follow that, you are doing the right thing.” Hands raised periodically from an audience of 180 public officials and residents at Tulsa Technology Center’s Riverside Campus as Bates and Diane Clay, his office’s communications director, gave a crash course on state laws governing public meetings and government records. Several questions came from people who identified themselves as public officials and admitted that they may have broken those laws. “I don’t think they intend to violate the acts, but a lot of people are confused” about some of the provisions, Clay said.

Read more from the Tulsa World at 

Oklahoma ‘on right track’ with anti-tobacco program, state official says
A report on tobacco use prevention and cessation released Thursday shows Oklahoma is “on the right track,” the executive director of the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust says. “Given this array of prevention and research issues to address, we’re spending over 50 percent of what’s available to us on tobacco,” said Tracey Strader. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids rated states based on their 2013 budget year spending for tobacco use and cessation as a percentage of the amount the Centers for Disease Control say should be spent. By that measure, Oklahoma ranked seventh, with $19.7 million budgeted for this year, or 43.8 percent of the $45 million the CDC says should be spent.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma education department OKs $8.9 million testing contract, again
The Oklahoma State Department of Education has a new testing contract for the second time this fall because of an earlier oversight The state Board of Education on Thursday approved a one-year, $8.9 million contract with CTB/McGraw Hill for tests administered statewide to public school students in grades 3-8. The contract includes the option of four annual renewals, which if approved, would add up to a total price of $28 million over five years. It was the second time in a matter of months that the Monterey, Calif.-based CTB/McGraw Hill was chosen in a competitive bidding process for that portion of Oklahoma’s school testing program. “Why are we voting on this now when we didn’t vote the first time?” asked board member Joy Hofmeister.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

State’s ‘bounce back’ will continue in 2013

The state’s “bounce back” from the recession and more recent economic struggles will continue next year, an economist told Oklahoma business leaders this week. Dan Rickman told OSU’s Economic Outlook Conference that he expects about 26,000 new jobs to be created next year. Most will be in professional, business services and in construction, the Associated Press reported. Mr. Rickman told the group employment is expected to exceed the national average in growth. Oklahoma jobs should grow about 1.7 percent in 2013, down from 2.5 percent this year.

Read more from the Norman Transcript at

Extending the Ladder: How microcredit expands economic opportunity
Small businesses, particularly very small businesses, are a critical component of Oklahoma’s economy. Microenterprises represent a distinct subset of small business, those with 5 or fewer employees and start up costs of under $35,000. They comprise the bulk of businesses nationally and locally – 88 percent of Oklahoma’s 345,630 businesses are microenterprises. One way Oklahoma policy makers can empower and sustain this economic activity is to strengthen microenterprise development organizations, which provide access to affordable credit, often essential to starting or expanding a business.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Oklahoma Schools Push to Keep Native Languages Alive
According to the Tulsa World, six Native languages once spoken in Oklahoma have disappeared and 14 are endangered. In this state with numerous tribes and languages, there is a strong effort in public schools and some universities to keep Native languages thriving. One survey says nine different Native languages are taught in up to 34 public schools, K-12, all over Oklahoma: Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Comanche, Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee and Ponca. Desa Dawson, director of World Language Education for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, says 1,355 elementary and high school students in Oklahoma are taking Native American language classes this year as their world language requirement.

Read more from Indian Country Today Media Network

Quote of the Day

“We’re Oklahoma, for heaven’s sake! It’s an opportunity for Natives who aren’t immersed in the language at home to learn more about their heritage; and for non-Natives who are surrounded by so many tribes here in Oklahoma, there is a natural curiosity about them.”

Desa Dawson, Director of World Language Education for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, on the continued interested in Native languages among Oklahoma students

Number of the Day


Number of state and federal prisoners in Oklahoma being held in private prison facilities, 21.8 percent of all the state’s prisoners

Source:  Bureau of Justice Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Green ‘sequester’ is already costing U.S. jobs
This policy memo looks at the declining federal support for clean-technology investments, which has not received nearly as much attention as defense cuts scheduled under the sequester in the Budget Control Act of 2011, yet has very large impacts. It finds that if clean-technology spending returned to 2009 levels in 2013, the job gains from this policy change would actually rival the gains from cancelling the entire projected defense spending sequester for 2013.

Read more from Economic Policy Institute at

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


Leave a Reply

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