In The Know: House Republicans propose pay increase for retired teachers

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.

Today In The News

House Republicans propose pay increase for retired teachers: A House Republican plan to address Oklahoma’s unprecedented teacher shortage calls for paying teachers $18,000 if they return to the classroom within the first three years of retirement while still receiving their pension benefits. That’s up from the $15,000 cap currently in place. Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Edmond, is the author of the bill, HB 1061, which needs to go to the state’s actuary to determine its impact on the pension system [Oklahoma Watch].

16 health centers in Oklahoma to share $4.2 million federal grant: The money will allow the health care centers — including two in Oklahoma City — to serve an estimated 6,700 more patients. The Health and Human Services Department announced nearly $500 million in funding for health care centers nationwide, including $150 million for construction or renovation [NewsOK]. Oklahoma’s community health centers have struggled in recent years as state funding for uncompensated care runs dry [OK Policy].

Oklahoma House Speaker say deadly clash in Cushing prison should be a ‘wake up call’: On Monday, the Department of Corrections released the names of the four inmates killed in a clash at a prison in Cushing, and the state Speaker of the House believes the deadly brawl reflects the crisis in our correctional system. Speaker Jeff Hickman said this deadly “inmate-on-inmate altercation” needs to be a wake up call to all Oklahomans for the change needed [News9].

Addict turned journalist speaks about criminal justice reform in Oklahoma: Keri Blakinger was a 26-year-old English student at prestigious Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in 2010. She was also a heroin addict facing prison time after being arrested with $50,000 worth of the drug. She served two and a-half years. When she got out, she finished her college degree and now works as a journalist in New York. “If I had been arrested one county over, I could have easily done 20 years,” she said [NewsOK].

Oklahoma County DA dismisses claims of new evidence by death row inmate Richard Glossip’s legal team: “This is a bull—- public relations campaign,” District Attorney David Prater told reporters in a packed hallway at the state Capitol. Prater’s comments came just after a news conference held outside the doors of the Oklahoma Supreme Court by a group of attorneys and supporters of convicted murderer Richard Glossip. His execution is scheduled for today [NewsOK]. Governor Fallin has rejected the request to delay the execution [KOCO]. A grandmother of two young boys who died in the 1995 Murrah Building Bombing wrote a plea to save the life of the death row inmate [KFOR]. At a Capitol rally, Oklahoma ACLU director Ryan Kiesel said the death penalty in Oklahoma isn’t serving justice, but politics [ACLU]. An attorney with Doctors for the Ethical Practice of Medicine wrote that Oklahoma death row inmates are particularly vulnerable to malpractice and negligence [Katherine Toomey / Tulsa World].

Oklahoma ranks sixth in rate of women killed by men: Oklahoma has shown a slight improvement in the rate of deadly violence committed by men against women they know, according to an annual report by the Violence Policy Center. The state moved from No. 3 to No. 6 in the homicide rate of women killed by men. Last year, Oklahoma had a rate of 2.03 deaths per 100,000 women and moved to a rate of 1.65, tying with Tennessee. The report is based on 2013 national crime statistics — the most recent available data [Tulsa World]. Read the full report from the Violence Policy Center here.

State budget cuts result in lower services, higher fees: The initial estimate given to agency officials last week was that next year’s budget shortfall could range from $600 million to $1.2 billion fewer dollars available for appropriation next year. Remember, this is on top of the $611 million slashed from the current state budget, which followed a $188 million shortfall in 2014. This means that next year, state expenditures for programs that affect the lives of you and your family will have been reduced in three years by more than one billion dollars, and perhaps as much as two billion dollars [Joe Dorman / CapitolBeatOK].

Oklahoma’s oil patch woes blunted somewhat by non-energy sectors: A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City indicates Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry still has a strong influence upon the state’s economy while other non-energy related industries are emerging. The report notes employment within the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma had declined more than 14 percent since prices began falling last year. More than 9,000 jobs have been lost [OK Energy Today]. The current oil crash most resembles the crisis of 1985-86, but the impact may be different for Oklahoma [OK Policy].

Calls grow for more transparency from county commissioners group: The Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma receives millions from county governments each year to provide insurance to public entities. But Cleveland County Commissioner Harold Haralson said ACCO does not follow laws that require public bodies to open records to the public. “Since taking office in January, I have learned ACCO is one of the least transparent groups I’ve ever dealt with,” Haralson told a House committee [Journal Record].

Oklahoma City Council introduces ordinance to prohibit panhandling on medians: Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer introduced the proposal and called panhandling a city-wide problem, and said she hopes the ordinance is a tiny piece of a larger effort to solve problems of poverty and homelessness. But Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid says panhandling doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and accused the council of acting in ways that are hostile to Oklahoma City’s homeless population [KGOU].

Cold beer at liquor stores, strong beer and wine at gas stations closer to reality: The Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma announced its support of proposed legislation to reform Oklahoma’s liquor laws. Mike Thornbrugh, a spokesman for QuikTrip, said the proposed change likely won’t reach voters until November 2016, and it will first face a legislative vote to get on the ballot [Tulsa World].

Animal welfare group claims its drone was shot down at Sen. Jim Inhofe’s pigeon-shooting fundraiser: The Illinois-based group, SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness, or SHARK, was using the drone to monitor the event “for possible violations of Oklahoma law” and said it would release video of the shootdown and crash Tuesday [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“When you are 1,000 teachers short, you have to think about how that affects our children. We are talking about 25,000 to 30,000 kids without a permanent teacher.”

-Oklahoma’s State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who is calling for the Legislature to raise salaries and reduce testing to combat the state’s growing teacher shortage (Source)

Number of the Day

50 percent

Percentage of women killed by men in Oklahoma who were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders, 2013.

Source: Violence Policy Center

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

53 percent of Jeb Bush’s tax cuts would go to the top 1 percent: Jeb Bush’s tax plan would cut individual income taxes for almost all Americans, but would not do so equally. In fact, according to a new analysis from Citizens for Tax Justice, more than half the dollar value of the tax cuts would go to 1 percent of the population — the richest 1 percent [Vox].

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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