In The Know: Hundreds of parents, students rally against budget cuts

In 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Parents, teachers, and students rallied yesterday on behalf of their schools and against budget cuts.  A Tulsa World editorial condemned tax-cuts in the face of a severely underfunded education system.  A letter to the editor of the Oklahoman questioned the wisdom of tax cuts when Oklahoma is the “social caboose in the federal system,” ranking at or near the bottom on many key social indicators.

The House of Representatives did not take up three of the five Senate income tax-cutting bills by the deadline, leaving two proposals on the table.  The head of an anti-abortion group apologized for tactics the group used in lobbying to hear a proposed personhood measure, which failed to advance yesterday in the House.  The OK Policy Blog presented data on the strong correlation between educational attainment and a state’s economic well-being.

The director of the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority explained that investing in Oklahoma’s rich cultural heritage would boost the state economy.  The Norman Transcript praised the smart-on-crime rationale behind HB 3052, a public safety bill that provides alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug offenders.  A bill to allow people with concealed handgun permits to carry their weapons in the open passed the House and is headed for conference committee.

In today’s Policy Note, Georgetown political scientist Jonathan Ladd explored the public’s declining trust in news media and why it matters.  The Number of the Day is the number of kids in Oklahoma living in homes with grandparents where neither parent is present.

In The News

Tulsa Parents Rally For An Increase In School Funding

Passing tax cuts in the state legislature, but taking a pass on money for school kids, has Green Country parents fired up.  Thursday night, parents, teachers and students rallied together on behalf of their schools.  Oklahoma ranks 49th in the nation as far as education funding per student. It’s a number that parents and teachers alike say is just too low.  So parents organized a rally with one goal in mind: to get the attention of state lawmakers in hopes of bringing more money to schools both locally and statewide.  The bleachers were full and the spirits were high in Edison Field House.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

Mad slashers:  Tax cuts now are irresponsible

In Tulsa Wednesday, two parent groups – Oklahoma Kids First and 49th is not OK – were planning a Thursday rally to plead with legislators to restore state education funding to 2007-2008 levels. Tens of millions of dollars in cuts are forcing Tulsa and other districts to close schools, lay off teachers and curtail programs.  At the Capitol, House members were being told that they might have to come up with as much as $300 million to pay for deferred tax credits and interest to oil and gas drillers. Those credits were deferred as the Legislature attempted to deal with one of the state’s worst-ever revenue failures – an economic collapse that was in part self-induced by years of repeated, reckless state income tax cuts.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Progress linked to wise investments, not tax cuts

Oklahoma’s political leaders are apparently intent on lowering, or eliminating, the state personal income tax. Despite much talk of “paying” for this by modifying tax breaks, it’s more likely (if these leaders are successful) that Oklahoma will see a reduction in public revenue and thus services in a number of areas.  Oklahoma is a sort of social caboose in the federal system. We’re often ranked low, or high, in a number of areas. We have among the highest rates of obesity, high rates of infant mortality, low rates of high school completion, among the lowest rates of safe bridges, a scandalously poor human services system, etc. We’re a poorly funded and poorly invested state.

Read more from NewsOK at

Two income tax-cut bills taken up by House

The House of Representatives did not take up three of the five Senate personal income tax-cutting bills by Thursday’s deadline, meaning that before the session ends late next month, legislators will have two proposals to consider that call for reducing and gradually eliminating the tax.  The two bills, which include a proposal from Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, call for a cut in the top personal income tax rate next year ranging from 0.3 percentage points to 1.75 percentage points. But House Speaker Kris Steele said it’s still too early to come up with a proposed cut for the Republican-controlled Legislature to consider for 2013 and whether the legislation would provide a formula for phasing out the income tax.  “Obviously, we just need one vehicle at the end of the day,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “I still believe we’re going to see an income tax reduction and we’ll see income tax reform this session.”

Read more from the Tulsa World at

The sure path to economic prosperity

While there is no clear connection between low taxes and economic success, there is a clear and strong correlation between the educational attainment of a state’s population and its economic well-being.  The chart below, created by the Massachusetts Budget Project based on 2009 Current Population Survey data,  plots all fifty states based on the percent of its workforce with a bachelor’s degree and the medium hourly wage worker of its workers. Medium hourly wage, which is the middle wage of all wages paid to workers, is one of the best measures of a state’s economic well-being because it ignores the effects of extremely high wages of a few workers and provides a fair picture of what a middle-class employee earns.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

American Indian Center will boost state economy

Oklahoma is in a position unlike any other time in its history. Our population evolved in waves as America’s history was being written. Today there are more languages spoken in Oklahoma than on the European continent.  As a cultural crossroads Oklahoma has been empowered by this great fusion of ideas, where creativity and collaboration merge.  Cradles of jazz sprouted in Tulsa, Muskogee and Oklahoma City. Western heritage stars emerged as national celebrities on the radio and in Western cinema. Route 66 brought a newly mobile nation to our doorsteps. Will Rogers was a cowboy and a Cherokee Indian, as well as an icon of popular culture. As a state, we are unique and unique is what sells.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma House fails to act on personhood bill

The so-called personhood bill failed to get a necessary hearing Thursday before the House of Representatives adjourned for the week, but its demise was anything but quiet.  The head of an anti-abortion group apologized Thursday to Republican House members for using poor judgment in threatening to keep track of those who voted against parliamentary procedures to bring Senate Bill 1433 up for a hearing. Oklahomans for Life said it would report any House member who blocks the effort as being for abortion rights.  The group’s tactic upset many House Republicans, most of whom had approved more than 30 anti-abortion measures since the GOP gained control of the House after 2004.

Read more from NewsOK at

Bill’s ultimate goal: Better public safety

Oklahoma’s prison system is full to the gills, thanks to a lock-em-up and throw away the key attitude that prevailed for years. But we’re seeing signs now that lawmakers and taxpayers don’t want to continually pay for more cells, more guards and more inmates.  Drug courts are getting the legislators’ attention. State officials say it costs about $5,000 a year to manage someone in drug court versus $19,000 a year to incarcerate them.  State Senators this week passed HB 3052, a public safety bill designed to put more resources in the front end on fighting crime and incarcerate the most dangerous offenders while providing alternatives for non-violent drug offenders.

Read more from the Norman Transcript at

Oklahoma advances open carry, multiple gun bills

Oklahomans with concealed handgun permits would be allowed to carry their weapons in the open if a bill that easily passed the House of Representatives becomes law.  Senate Bill 1733 would allow anyone with a license to carry a firearm under the Oklahoma Self Defense Act to carry the weapon either openly or concealed. It passed 85-3 and is headed for a conference committee.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Quote of the Day

I think that’s not right, because I think we deserve a good education.

2nd grader Elliot Middlebrook, at a rally asking lawmakers to restore education funding

Number of the Day


Number of kids in Oklahoma living in homes with grandparent householders where grandparents are responsible for them and neither parent is present, about 2 percent of the state’s children in 2009.

Source: AARP

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why Don’t People Trust the Media Anymore? (And Why It Matters)

I see two structural trends coming from outside of journalism as the main drivers of media distrust. First, the political parties have become much more polarized in their policy positions. Second, because of technological changes such as the rise of cable and the internet, as well as regulatory changes such as the end of the fairness doctrine, the media industry has become much more diverse and fragmented.

Read more from The Monkey Cage at and

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