In The Know: House Republicans unveil education bill | Extra food assistance benefit to end in March | Efforts underway to limit Gov.’s agency controls

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.

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma House Republicans unveil $500 million school funding increase, alternative to vouchers: The Oklahoma House of Representatives unveiled its legislative priorities for education Thursday, and it’s got two main objectives: give public schools a $500 million funding increase and give parents tax credits to send their kids to private schools. Like all proposals, bills have to pass through the legislative process before they can become law. [KOSU]

  • House moves education plan: $500 million of new funding, new parental choice tax credit [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma House Republicans unveil teacher pay raise, school choice plans [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma House speaker proposes tax credits for private school students [The Oklahoman]
  • House GOP plan would boost teacher salaries, create tax credit program [CNHI via Ada News]

Another pandemic relief policy is ending, making groceries even more expensive for low-income Oklahomans: During the pandemic, the federal government started giving extra help to families who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — often called SNAP or food stamps. Officials were trying to make sure families could still put food on the table during the sudden economic downturn. But when Congress passed its big omnibus bill in December, they nixed the extra help, putting a sudden expiration date on three years of emergency payments. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

State Government News

Could Oklahoma Gov. Stitt’s power be reduced? Efforts underway to limit his control of agencies: When Gov. Kevin Stitt entered office four years ago, the first-time politician convinced lawmakers to give him more control over appointments to state agencies, effectively making him the most powerful governor in Oklahoma history. But early into Stitt’s second term, some Oklahoma lawmakers are now trying to whittle away at that power after a series of scandals and controversies within multiple state agencies. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma CIO: Veterans’ information stored outside state network: The state’s chief information officer told members of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission on Wednesday that six databases maintaining veterans’ personal identification information are being managed on a site outside the state network, in violation of the law and at an expense paid by the personal credit card of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee. [NonDoc]

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma AG to vote against legalizing recreational pot, warns public in danger: Attorney General Gentner Drummond said Thursday he opposes expanding marijuana use in Oklahoma, warning it would be wrong to give criminals already in the state more customers. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma AG to prosecute marijuana ‘ghost owner’ cases in partnership with Bureau of Narcotics: The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office will take on the prosecution of a former governor’s appointee who is accused of aiding illegal “ghost owner” marijuana grow operations, Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced this week. [Tulsa World]

Economic Opportunity

New commission proposed to develop ‘future workforce’: State Senate leaders hope to create a new entity that would give the private sector more power to develop its future workforce. Senate Bill 621, by state Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, would create the Oklahoma Workforce Commission. The legislation was highlighted at a press conference held Wednesday at the Oklahoma History Center. [Journal Record]

Economy & Business News

Unemployment claims dip again in Oklahoma, across US: According to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, the number of people filing initial claims for unemployment benefits ticked down a bit during the week that ended Feb. 4. The less-volatile four-week moving average for initial claims also declined. [Journal Record]

New center at TU to seed-fund, encourage new businesses: Efforts are underway to raise at least $10 million in venture capital funds to be administered through the center within the Collins College of Business. Officials said the money will be leveraged to help TU community members commercialize intellectual property, create ventures, and attain additional startup funds. [Journal Record]

Research from OU finds investments in rural water infrastructure improve economic outcomes after 8 years: Dr. Tom Mueller, an OU professor, studies economic well-being in rural communities across the country. In a study published last month, Mueller and a colleague from Michigan State University found when rural communities spend more on water infrastructure, they tend to have lower poverty rates, higher average incomes and less unemployment. [KOSU]

Education News

Hall of Fame teachers’ pictures taken down at state Education Department: A brief visit Thursday morning by The Oklahoman to the state Education Department lobby, from which the hallway is visible, confirmed the pictures’ absence. The agency, now with state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters at the helm, did not initially explain the reason it removed the portraits, nor did it say whether it intends to hang them in a different location. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“There is no doubt that this is leaning and pushing toward the rural schools, to pull the rural schools in that have been totally opposed to any type of tax credit or voucher in the past … It’s intriguing, but there are a lot of questions. More questions than there are answers. I have a thousand questions, but I don’t have many answers.”

-Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, talking about Thursday’s education bill introduced in the Oklahoma House. Pemberton said he’s still reviewing the bill, but said the biggest school districts in his area would likely lose out on per-pupil revenue if the $2 million cap remains. But how much they’d lose would depend on how it’s calculated. [CNHI via Ada News]

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans who receive food assistance through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). During the pandemic, the federal government increased this benefit, but that extra help will end in March. [StateImpact Oklahoma] | [USDA]

Policy Note

Here’s the story behind Black History Month — and why it’s celebrated in February

Every February, the U.S. honors the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation. Black History Month celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country’s history. Critics have long argued that Black history should be taught and celebrated year-round, not just during one month each year. [NPR] | For more information on Black History Month, visit the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

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Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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