In The Know: Governor unveils first budget proposal; nursing homes push for funding; Oklahoma ranked low for LGBTQ equality…

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

Statement: Governor’s State of the State address and budget propose some positive steps but leave out major needs: Governor Stitt has proposed some positive steps to pull Oklahoma up from a decade of budget cuts and lost services. We applaud the governor’s endorsement of another teacher raise and funding for sensible criminal justice reforms and rehabilitation programs. At the same time, Oklahomans have other serious needs that should not be forgotten. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma’s 2019 legislative session started yesterday. Here’s how you can help Oklahoma make progress: Oklahoma’s 2019 legislative session kicks off at noon today, and soon after that will be a State of the State address by Governor Kevin Stitt. Lawmakers will have 4 months to pass legislation until the final adjournment deadline of May 31st. Between now and then, thousands of bills will be considered by the Legislature — some with the potential to improve the lives of Oklahomans and others that could move us backward. [OK Policy]

‘Together Oklahoma’ educates the public on lending reform: A grassroots organization aimed at educating the public on various statewide issues met in Lawton to discuss lending reform. “Together Oklahoma” met Monday night at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Group members spoke with the community on predatory lending prevention with a particular focus on payday loans. [KSWO]

In The News

What’s in the new governor’s first budget proposal? Flat agency appropriations, modest increase for education, money to savings: Gov. Kevin Stitt was not kidding when he told state lawmakers in December not to be quick to divvy up the $612 million in new revenue then projected for Fiscal Year 2020. [Tulsa World] Gov. Kevin Stitt’s first budget proposes spending $400 million in new money on education, criminal justice reform and other priorities, while setting aside $200 million from the projected surplus to pad the state savings account. [NewsOK] Budget bid includes boosts for some. [NewsOK]

Stitt wants teacher pay raise, economy-focused government: Gov. Kevin Stitt said teachers deserve another pay raise and asked state lawmaker for the money to fund it in his first State-of-the-State address, which he also used to outline his vision for an economy-focused administration that will produce an efficient and adaptive state government. [NewsOK] Read Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s 2019 State of the State address. [NewsOK]

Stitt pushes teacher pay, savings in State of the State: If the annual joke is that the Oklahoma Legislature uses the governor’s proposed executive budget as a doorstop, members of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet hope his “consensus-building approach” will help move his proposed fiscal prudence forward. [NonDoc] Stitt: Bring Oklahoma teachers’ pay to region’s highest. [Journal Record] Oklahoma House Democrats see increased optimism at the capitol but are ready to hear more about policy from Gov. Kevin Stitt. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oil and Gas group vows to support Gov. Stitt’s state goals: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s state of the state address on Monday received support from the newly-formed OIPA-OKOGA, the group created by the 2018 merger of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. [OK Energy Today]

No Time to Read: How the Oklahoma State Legislature does the impossible: Faced with legal time constraints and bills that can run on for pages, seeing multiple amendments, lawmakers can feasibly read less than 60 percent of the bills introduced, an analysis of legislative data shows. [Claremore Daily Progress]

Advocates say expanding Medicaid would greatly benefit Oklahoma children: Advocates say outside of improving education, expanding Medicaid is the number one thing Oklahoma can do to help children. Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman said benefits from increasing health care access for poor families range from kids being able to visit the doctor regularly to healthier parents who are better able to care for their kids. [Public Radio Tulsa] On Monday morning, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy and the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition held panel discussions with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. [KFOROur 2019 Policy Priorities include expanding Medicaid.

ANOTHER VIEW: Medicaid expansion: It’s time for evidenced-base policymaking: According to the United Health Foundation’s recently released annual report on American health, Oklahoma ranks 47th in the nation. This is a decline from our 43rd place ranking the year before. That is the largest rank decline in the entire country. [

Raising Oklahoma’s smoking age merits debate: To reduce Oklahoma’s tobacco-related health woes, the American Lung Association is urging lawmakers to raise to 21 from 18 the legal age to purchase tobacco. It’s an idea that deserves serious consideration. [Editorial Board / NewsOK]

Living to 56: A look at life in Stilwell, Oklahoma: Stilwell, Oklahoma may claim to be the strawberry capital of the world, but there’s another title that’s not on the welcome sign. Stilwell has the lowest life expectancy in America. [KTUL]

Oklahoma nursing homes push for more funding, promise better quality: Three wide-ranging bills in the Oklahoma Legislature would boost funding for nursing facilities while requiring them to increase staffing. Senate Bills 228 and 954 would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to pay at least 95 percent of the average cost for a nursing home to care for residents, as would House Bill 1902. [NewsOK]

Tressie Shaffer: Does this mother deserve to be in prison? Tressie Shaffer, a 31-year-old mother of four, is currently serving an eighteen-month prison sentence in Oklahoma for permitting child abuse. But does she deserve to be behind bars? [Mic]

Tulsa Black Officers Coalition says it supports mayor’s plan for independent oversight of police investigations: The Tulsa Black Officers Coalition has come out in support of Mayor G.T. Bynum’s plan to create an Office of the Independent Monitor to oversee police investigations and make recommendations on policies and procedures. Sgt. Marcus Harper, president of the coalition, told the Tulsa World on Monday that African-American officers are not the only members of the police force who support Bynum’s proposal. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma ranked in bottom tier of states for LGBTQ equality: Oklahoma was among 28 states to be ranked in the lowest category for LGBTQ equality in a study released Jan. 31 by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit focused on civil rights advocacy and lobbying for the LGBTQ community. [CHNI]

Poultry watchdogs continue campaign, post highway billboards: After a final meeting of the Oklahoma Board of Agriculture in December and the transition to a new administration this year, changes to poultry operations have continued, and Delaware County residents say they’re feeling left out. [Tulsa World]

U.S. Attorney Trent Shores pledges support for police amid spate of shootings at police nationwide: U.S. Attorney Trent Shores and Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan voiced concerns Monday about recent shootings of police in other states, while vowing to work together to go after those who commit similar crimes in Tulsa. [Tulsa World]

Money pours into (some) Oklahoma City Council races, for the Feb. 12 primary: Candidates running in this month’s Oklahoma City Council primaries had received contributions totaling around $250,000 by Dec. 31, according to campaign finance reports filed this week. [NewsOK]

Visit Stillwater responds to critical report from city officials: After sitting through a Jan. 7 report by city staff that questioned its financial practices and led city leaders to use terms like “disingenuous,” representatives from Visit Stillwater got a chance to respond during Monday’s Stillwater Economic Development Authority meeting. [Stillwater News Press]

City cancels election for council seats after incumbents go unopposed: Two of Stillwater’s incumbents City Councilors will continue in office for four more years without going through an election. They were the only candidates to file during the city’s Dec. 12-15 filing period for their seats – a filing period that many felt came and went without enough notice. [Stillwater News Press]

Incumbent unopposed in Norman City Council Ward 5: Normanites will vote for new City Council representatives in Wards 1, 3 and 7 on Feb. 12. In Norman City Council Ward 5, incumbent Sereta Wilson ran unopposed and has been functionally re-elected. [NonDoc]

OU CFO reports ‘very troubling’ financial metrics: Ken Rowe, senior vice president and chief financial officer for the University of Oklahoma, gave a sobering report to the Board of Regents last week about the financial difficulties facing the university. President James Gallogly introduced the report after he and the regents had spoken about the recent events at the Norman campus surrounding two racist videos of people in blackface. [Norman Transcript]

Black History Month: Oklahoma’s first black chief justice followed trail blazed by Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher: In 1949, following a three-year legal battle and U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher of Chickasha became the first African-American admitted to the University of Oklahoma Law School. More than a half century later, one of the beneficiaries of Fisher’s successful fight would carry on her legacy, breaking a few barriers of his own. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“For many of our children, that school nurse is the only medical attention or the first medical attention that they will receive. Parents will send them to school even when they’re sick — ‘Go see the nurse as soon as you get there.'”

-Oklahoma City School Board Vice Chair Gloria Torres [Source: Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day


Average school bus driver salary in Oklahoma.

[Source: Oklahoma State Department of Education]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

‘I’m trying not to die right now’: Why opioid-addicted patients are still searching for help: The Trump administration, Congress and states are pouring billions of dollars into addiction treatment to fight the opioid crisis, but accountability for the burgeoning industry hasn’t kept pace with those efforts — leaving patients vulnerable to ineffective care, fraud and abuse. [Politico]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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