In The Know: Income tax cut unlikely this year | Gov. ‘stands with Texas’ on border dispute | State Board of Ed meeting

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

Why an income tax cut in Oklahoma seems unlikely this year: A quarter-point reduction in the state income tax will have a difficult, if not unlikely, time passing the entire Oklahoma Legislature this year, despite the support of the governor and House Speaker Charles McCall. [The Oklahoman]

Editorial: Oklahoma Legislature needs to skip on ill-considered tax cut proposal: The most responsible move for lawmakers next week would be to decline consideration of a tax-cut plan until a clearer economic picture emerges. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Gov. Kevin Stitt: ‘Oklahoma stands with Texas’ amid razor wire border dispute: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said he is supporting Texas’ decision to continue installing razor wire at the southern border, despite a Supreme Court ruling that federal agents can cut the wire down. In response to videos of the Texas National Guard preparing to install more razor wire, Stitt posted on X, formerly Twitter, that “Oklahoma stands with Texas.” [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma broadband board awards $374M to improve internet connectivity: More than 55,000 Oklahomans are expected to benefit after a state board on Thursday approved its first round of grants to improve access to high-speed internet. The state’s Broadband Governing Board approved $374 million in grants for projects in 57 counties, according to a news release. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • State broadband board awards first high-speed internet ARPA projects [NonDoc]

Pensions, Prescriptions and Pot Among Proposals Before Lawmakers: Tax cuts, education policy and what to do with budget surpluses will dominate much of the upcoming legislative session in Oklahoma, but other subjects have attracted the attention of House and Senate members. [Oklahoma Watch]

Tulsa lawmakers say they’ll focus on mental health, education policy next session: Tulsa lawmakers are gearing up for session. Wednesday night two state reps met for a discussion at OU Tulsa with constituents. [Public Radio Tulsa]

What’s next after Stitt, tribes agree on key compact issues: Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed compact agreements with Apache and Chickasaw nations, but the ticking clock is growing louder as more than 20 compacts expire at the end of this year. [Journal Record]

Salary revealed for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s new top aide: State officials have revealed the salary for an Oklahoma City businessman who resigned his role on the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board after being named Gov. Kevin Stitt’s deputy chief of staff. [Tulsa World

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: No tax cuts, Libs of TikTok founder, new Education Secretary and more (audio): The panel discusses Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat announcing his chamber will not be passing any tax cuts during the governor’s special session, State Superintendent Ryan Walters tapping a far-right influencer from California to an Oklahoma library committee shortly after reports were released of thousands of dollars in travel expenses and Gov. Kevin Stitt picking a supporter of a controversial Catholic charter school as his new Secretary of Education. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

State of Tribal Nations inaugural event announced at Tulsa chamber meeting: A new Tulsa Regional Chamber signature event — the State of the Tribal Nations — will be held for the first time this year, the new chamber chair said Thursday. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Oklahoma has seen an estimated 4,500 rape-related pregnancies post-Roe: Oklahoma’s total abortion ban doesn’t allow exceptions for rape, and a new paper shows how many pregnancies have resulted from rape. In Oklahoma, it’s estimated 4,529 girls and women ages 15-45 have had rape-related pregnancies during the past 18 months. [KGOU]

Wastewater tests show COVID infections surging, but pandemic fatigue limits precautions:
Although it’s spotty and inconsistent in many places, wastewater testing is pointing to a new wave of COVID-19 infections, with as many as one-third of Americans expected to contract the disease by late February. [Oklahoma Voice]

Opinion: It’s time to secure real dental care for Oklahomans: Access to dental care is critical to not just oral health, but also to overall physical, academic and economic health. Unfortunately, problems with dental insurance create real barriers between patients and their care. [Paul S. Wood / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma Top 10 For Rate of Police Killings in 2023: Oklahoma had the 10th highest rate of killings by police officers of any state, and Tulsa had the 10th highest rate of any city in the U.S. in 2023, according to Mapping Police Violence. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

As OKC’s homeless demographics change, Point In Time count informs where services most needed: Volunteers canvassed different parts of Oklahoma City on Thursday, gathering information for the annual Point In Time count of the city’s homeless population. The survey is meant to help local agencies and nonprofits better identify demographics, coordinate services and develop housing initiatives to continue addressing the problem. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa mayor pushes to open low-barrier shelter by end of 2024: Tulsa’s mayor is intent on opening a low-barrier homeless shelter in his final year in office. The shelter would provide beds for unhoused people including those with criminal records and substance abuse disorders. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Build in Tulsa Empowers Entrepreneurs this Black History Month: This February, Build in Tulsa is hosting workshops to help local entrepreneurs learn how to integrate more technology into their businesses, pick up tips on building a strong team, and meet one-on-one with a business coach. The series of workshops will kick off with an open house of Build in Tulsa’s new facility in Downtown Tulsa and will finish up with a pitch competition that will award more than $35,000 in prizes to fuel new businesses. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Education News

Ryan Walters accused of defaming Mid-Del school district over federal fund spending: In a forceful presentation, the superintendent of Mid-Del Public Schools excoriated state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters during the state Board of Education meeting Thursday, accusing Walters of defaming the district. [The Oklahoman]

Ryan Walters defends decision to ‘claw back teachers’ bonuses paid in error: State schools Superintendent Ryan Walters defended Thursday the Oklahoma Department of Education’s demand that some teachers pay back bonuses they apparently received in error. The teachers said they had spent at least part of the bonus before the errors were discovered. [The Oklahoman]

State board acts on teacher certifications, gender rule: Amid occasional shouts and chants from the audience, Oklahoma State Board of Education members approved the permanent version of a controversial rule regarding gender designation on student records in a meeting today that featured the superintendent of Midwest City-Del City Public Schools accusing State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters of making incorrect statements about his district. [NonDoc]

  • After months of delay, former Norman teacher’s license will finally be up for a vote [Oklahoma Voice]
  • Hearing to revoke former Norman teacher’s license over race and gender protest set for March [The Oklahoman]
  • State makes permanent rule on gender changes on student records [Tulsa World]

Superintendent gives Libs of TikTok creator a forum at state board meeting: No advance public notice of Chaya Raichik’s video message for Oklahomans was listed on the official meeting agenda posted by the board’s clerk. But under an agenda item described as “information from the State Superintendent,” Walters opened the meeting by playing for the public a recording of Raichik celebrating the controversy caused by Walters’ appointment of her earlier this week as one of his new school library advisers. [Tulsa World]

Walters ‘concerned’ about financial issues inherited by new TPS leaders: State Superintendent Ryan Walters commended Tulsa Public Schools leaders for a second month in a row for “good signs” in the district’s current academic progress but said he remains concerned about some unspecified financial issues they have inherited. [Tulsa World]

General News

‘Big win for us:’ Federal regulators say the Grand River Dam Authority is responsible for flooding in Miami and failed to acquire affected lands: The Pensacola Dam is one of the major causes of flooding in the northeastern Oklahoma town of Miami and the Grand River Dam Authority has violated its license by not by not buying out affected property owners, according to a new federal ruling. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the order on Jan. 18. [The Frontier]

Opinion: How ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Presses Up Against the Limits of Empathy: There are lessons offered by “Killers of the Flower Moon” that have been overlooked, unexpected lessons about empathy, the soul of the American public and how a reckoning with American colonialism must begin. [Maggie Blackhawk / The New York Times]

Opinion: Americans slowly turning the fictional movie ‘Idiocracy’ into a documentary: “Idiocracy” is a 2006 comedy that is looking more like a documentary. It’s set in a dystopian future where people evolved into stupidity and corporations run the country. The style-over-substance politics isn’t far off the mark as America’s current growing disregard for expertise sets us on a path to ignorance and misinformation. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Former Okmulgee mayor pleads guilty to embezzling from company, pregnancy center: [NonDoc]
  • Oklahoma County eliminates one potential jail site; still considering another despite objections [The Oklahoman]
  • Tulsa mayoral candidates discuss homelessness, education at Brookside town hall [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Two mayoral candidates share views with Brookside town hall audience [Tulsa World]
  • Community-led effort to develop 56 acres in north Tulsa marks major milestone [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Roads and bridges are vital. I want people to understand that you can’t cut taxes and keep investing in yourselves.”

-House Minority Leader Cyndi Munson, speaking about proposals to reduce state revenue through income tax cuts. [The Oklahoman

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s current labor supply for construction and trades satisfies about 85% of peak labor demand in the state.  [Associated Builders and Contractors]  

Policy Note

The US needs homes. But first, it needs the workers to build them: The United States needs an estimated 7 million more homes to house everyone who needs shelter. But to build all those homes, experts say, America would need many more construction workers. An analysis released earlier this month by the Associated Builders and Contractors found that at the end of November there were about 459,000 job openings in the industry. The 5.4% job opening rate was the highest since 2000. [Stateline]

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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.