In The Know: Gov. Stitt still weighing Senate invite to discuss his tax plans | Racial disparities in debt collection | Oklahoma has too many unmet needs to slash revenue

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.

New from OK Policy

Oklahoma has too many unmet needs to slash revenue | #MyOklahoma: Lawmakers have been asked to consider sweeping tax cuts — including eliminating the personal income tax, which is one of the state’s largest revenue sources. Gov. Stitt has called the legislature back for an Oct. 3 special session to consider tax cuts and triggers that would jeopardize the state’s financial position. Proposed under the guise of inflation relief, sweeping cuts to the personal income tax will favor the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. Two decades of poorly targeted tax cuts have left core programs and services underfunded, and the funding problem gets worse each year due to population growth and inflation. Oklahoma has too many unmet needs for lawmakers to consider cutting revenue. [Get Informed and Take Action]

Oklahoma News

As special session starts, Stitt asked to sit with Senate: Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) and his caucus leaders have decided to start this week’s special session with a 10 a.m. Tuesday meeting of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee, which is expected to feature testimony about fiscal pictures and revenue forecasts from Senate staff, State Treasurer Todd Russ and Office of Management and Enterprise Services director John Suter. Treat has also invited Stitt to testify at Tuesday’s meeting, imploring him to explain his vision for eliminating or replacing up to $4 billion in revenue derived from state income tax. [NonDoc]

Oklahomans of Color Disproportionately Sued Over Debt: Indebtedness lawsuits are the most common type of civil litigation in the state, according to a recent study by the Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation, and available data suggests they are disproportionately filed against low-income Black, Hispanic, and Native American Oklahomans. [Oklahoma Watch]

State Government News

Interim studies this week at Oklahoma House: School meals, daylight saving time, executions and more: Interim studies hosted by members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives are open to the public, and interested individuals and organizations are encouraged to participate and provide input. Findings and recommendations from interim studies are used to inform future legislative efforts. [Tulsa World]

  • Legislative Panel Will Examine Death Penalty Moratorium [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Bipartisan effort to tackle domestic violence in Oklahoma [Fox 25]

Political notebook: Solution to fair shootings is more guns at fairs, says state rep: State Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, said the solution to shootings such as the one at the Oklahoma State Fair in Oklahoma City is more guns. Advocates have been trying for years to outlaw gun bans at the Oklahoma and Tulsa state fairs, as well as other large events. [Tulsa World]

Capitol Insider: State Board of Education seeks less school funding for year ahead: The State Board of Education announces a new program focusing on four key areas of instruction as it submits budget request to the state legislature for fiscal year 2025. [KGOU]

Oklahoma transportation leaders to discuss 8-year construction work plan: The Oklahoma Transportation Commission will meet Monday to discuss a $9 billion construction plan focusing on highways statewide that will fund construction for the next eight years. [KOCO]

It’s been an issue In Congress: What does the properly dressed Oklahoma legislator wear?: In spite of a looming national financial crisis, the U.S. Senate has been involved in a squabble over what its members should wear. Unlike the Congress, the Oklahoma Legislature has had few issues with its dress codes, although one state representative thinks the rules are out of date and need to change. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: More questions than answers as lawmakers probe new transportation tax: Oklahoma leaders continue to rely heavily on the revenue generated from the state’s 20-cent gas tax to fund needed repairs to roads and bridges. But as it turns out, legislators have been quietly exploring the idea of taxing Oklahoma drivers per mile instead of at the gas pump. [Janelle Stecklein / Oklahoma Voice]

Federal Government News

D.C. Digest: Appropriations deadlock shuts down most other business: The budget fight sucked up all the oxygen in Washington last week, making it very difficult for anything else to get done. [Tulsa World]

Tribal Nations News

How the Osage Tribe became rich before the Reign of Terror: The Osage people weren’t looking for wealth when they bought 1.47 million acres from the Cherokee Nation in 1872. Mostly they just wanted to be left alone. But wealth, however fleeting, is what the People of the Middle Waters found, first in the tall grass growing on the rocky hills of present Osage County, and then from the oil and natural gas below the surface. [Tulsa World]

  • After chronicling the race massacre, Tulsa World goes in depth on Osage Reign of Terror [Tulsa World]
  • Osage Nation wardrobe consultant on ‘Flower Moon’ grateful for film’s authenticity [Tulsa World]
  • Killers of the Flower Moon timeline: From finding oil to a Martin Scorsese movie [Tulsa World]
  • Editorial: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ movie release calls for a reckoning of state’s violent, racist history [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Colleges are struggling to recruit Native students. What will ban on race in admissions mean?: Three months after the U.S. Supreme Court banned colleges from weighing race in admissions, it remains unclear how the ruling will affect Native American students. College officials already were struggling to recruit and retain Native Americans, who are almost always underrepresented on campuses built across their tribal homelands. Less than one-tenth of 1% of all U.S. undergrads are Native, a share that is losing ground as more students forgo college altogether after the pandemic. [The Oklahoman]

Creek Freedmen citizenship applications face “4 to 6 week” review: Creek Freedmen plaintiffs who won a lawsuit for citizenship rights this week traveled to the Muscogee Nation Citizenship office in Jenks on Friday to receive their citizen cards. Plaintiffs Rhonda Grayson and Jeff Kennedy, along with Creek Freedmen descendant Sharon Lenzy Scott, traveled with civil rights attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons to obtain citizenship. Instead, an employee for the citizenship office told them their applications will take four to six weeks to process. They’ll face a fresh review by the Citizenship Board in light of the historic court ruling. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Voting and Election News

Republican women’s group focuses on engaging Generation Z voters: Interested in equipping Republicans with tools to better reach Generation Z voters, the National Federation of Republican Women focused Saturday on strategies to galvanize youth engagement. The workshop was one of the breakout sessions during the GOP group’s three-day 42nd Biennial Convention. The workshop focused on ways to boost youth involvement in both the Republican Party and in government at a time when young voters tend to be among the most politically disengaged. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Republican women converge in Oklahoma City to talk policy, candidates at convention [Oklahoma Voice]
  • GOP women’s convention session focuses on Independent voters, young Republicans [The Oklahoman]
  • GOP women discuss youth outreach during OKC workshop Saturday [The Oklahoman]

Does Gov. Stitt’s speech at GOP women’s convention signify shift in focus for Republican party?: If the audience’s reaction Friday night to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s speech was any indication of the future, then Republicans are shifting from their hard-core stance on abortion to issues such as transgender high school athletes and gender reassignment surgery on minors for the 2024 campaign. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

SoonerCare now covers doula services, expanding support for expecting mothers in Oklahoma: Expecting moms enrolled in SoonerCare can now take advantage of a resource that works to help pregnant women and mothers, Doula services are now completely covered for SoonerCare patients in Oklahoma. [Fox 25]

Criminal Justice News

Another lawsuit filed in federal court against Oklahoma County’s jail after inmate’s death: Oklahoma County and its troubled jail face yet another lawsuit that claims a detainee was denied constitutional rights. The latest lawsuit filed earlier this week seeks financial compensation for the death of Kyle Steven Shaw, 36, who is one of more than 40 detainees who have died at Oklahoma County’s jail since July 2020 after its operation was taken over by the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority. [The Oklahoman]

Officers shoot, kill man after standoff in Idabel, OSBI investigating: Officers shot and killed a man in Idabel following an hours-long standoff, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which is looking into what happened. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: The conditions were harsh; crowds were rough. Former inmate tells of Oklahoma County jail: Having just observed the 20-year mark since my release from the Oklahoma County jail — recently named “the deadliest jail in the nation” — seeing a former sheriff again triggered outrage. Not just for my sake, but the thousands of lives impacted by that man and what occurred under his watch. And the jail just keeps stacking up scandalous headlines and investigations. I reject the notion the jail has the worst offenders in the country. The only thing different about Oklahoma County inmates is how they are treated and forced to live. [Tony Green / The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Jail being reshaped with compassion, commitment to change lives for the better: Big changes are underway at the Oklahoma County jail. When I took leadership of the jail in January 2023, my goal was to make substantial improvements throughout the entire facility. My focus remains on improving the health and welfare of the detainees and the staff. The problems of the jail are well known and documented. I would not have accepted this role if I didn’t believe in the people who work here and my ability to make the necessary changes needed to turn years of neglect into a brighter future for everyone inside this building. [Brandi Garner / The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

OKC to use federal grant to plot transformation of oldest, largest public housing: Oklahoma City has a shot at getting some much-needed funding to revitalize impoverished, high crime neighborhoods that planners say have been skipped over by the urban core renaissance. [The Oklahoman]

OSU Student Farm helps bridge gap of food insecurity: A collaborative effort among Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and Stillwater’s Our Daily Bread Food and Resource Center provides experiential learning opportunities for OSU students and helps address food insecurity in Payne County. [CNHI]

Economy & Business News

Unemployment claims dip in state, rise slightly across US: Reports of layoffs by businesses have remained sparse in states across the country, including Oklahoma, even as higher interest rates imposed to quell inflation have had a dampening effect on the economy. In Oklahoma, the number of initial claims filed for unemployment benefits during the latest reporting period actually declined a bit from the previous week, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. [Journal Record]

Canoo reports progress in preparing facilities in OKC, Pryor: Electric vehicle startup company Canoo has made investments in equipment and has begun hiring people to fill positions at an EV assembly plant in Oklahoma City and a battery manufacturing facility planned in Pryor, the company said this week. [Journal Record]

Education News

Walters told Congress TPS had ‘active connection’ with China. His staff was told the opposite: By the time State Superintendent Ryan Walters testified to Congress that Tulsa Public Schools “maintains an active connection” with the Chinese Communist Party, his staff already had been notified that the district’s relationship with a Chinese language program had been severed weeks earlier. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Tulsa Public Schools ended Chinese language program weeks before Oklahoma Superintendent’s Congressional testimony [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Fact Check: Is Chinese propaganda actually being taught in Oklahoma schools? [The Oklahoman]

Superintendent budget proposal unveiled, Tulsa gives progress update at Oklahoma Board of Education meeting: State Superintendent Ryan Walters unveiled his upcoming budget proposal, emergency rule change and proposed accreditation standards change at Thursday’s monthly State Board of Education meeting. Tulsa Public Schools also presented its plan of improvement to the board. [KGOU]

  • State Department of Education seeking smaller budget in FY25 [Tulsa World]
  • 50 years after controversy of integration, magnet programs a source of pride for Tulsa Public Schools [Tulsa World]

Education notebook: Bond elections, College Board honors and more: Early walk-in voting is available Thursday and Friday at the Creek, Rogers and Wagoner county election boards for the Oct. 10 bond elections in Catoosa and Pretty Water. [Tulsa World]

Opinion, Sen. Adam Pugh: ‘Improving Oklahoma’s literacy outcomes is the greatest challenge facing our state’: Ensuring our students can read properly leads to a higher quality of life and success for them as adults. It’s important to truly understand the impact literacy has on our state and citizens. [Sen. Adam Pugh / The Oklahoman

General News

Tulsa’s third excavation of Oaklawn concludes, over 50 unmarked graves found: Tulsa’s third excavation at Oaklawn Cemetery for 1921 Race Massacre victims has wrapped up. State archeologist Dr. Kary Stackelbeck and forensic anthropologist Dr. Phoebe Stubblefield said their teams uncovered, delineated, and mapped in 59 additional graves, all but two of which were previously unmarked. [Public Radio Tulsa]

  • Latest phase of Oaklawn search for Tulsa Race Massacre burials concludes [Tulsa World]

Nonprofit news outlets: A growing, integral part of Oklahoma’s journalism landscape: The nonprofit news sector is rapidly expanding in Oklahoma, providing more evidence of a remarkable shift in the landscape of American journalism. These changes not only help to ensure that the actions of state officials will continue to receive sufficient scrutiny, but they also signal a new era of cooperation between nonprofit and for-profit news teams. [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Transportation, housing challenges bubble up during mayoral forum [Journal Record]
  • Oklahoma City launches NBA arena campaign ahead of December vote [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“With the help of federal pandemic relief, many Oklahomans were able to pay off debts they owed, or didn’t have to take out debts to make ends meet in the first place. My suspicion is that we’ll see those numbers go back up as more pandemic aid programs come to an end.”

-Katie Dilks, an Oklahoma City attorney and the Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation’s executive director. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


The percentage of Oklahomans with debt in collections is 1.72 times higher in predominantly nonwhite areas (62%) than it is in predominantly white areas (36%). [National Consumer Law Center]  

Policy Note

The Downward Debt Spiral: A Study of Oklahoma’s Judicial Debt Collection System: Combining new, quantifiable court data with findings from court observations and interviews, the Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation designed this study to highlight inequities in how debt collection lawsuits are adjudicated and offer data-informed solutions that can better support unrepresented and low-income Oklahomans. Consumer debt in this report is defined as any type of debt primarily incurred for personal, family, or household purposes. This kind of debt may look like the rent payment a person charges to their credit card to afford groceries that month or the car loan a recent college graduate takes out so they can get to and from their new entry-level job. Consumer debt also includes the thousands of dollars in medical debt that follows a new mother home after childbirth or the remaining cost of the health scare that drains a family’s savings. Often, unmanageable debt of this type can lead to a lawsuit.[Oklahoma Access to Justice Foundation]

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


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

Leave a Reply

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