In The Know: Lawmakers critical of rules for new private school voucher program | Committee studies improvements to Quality Jobs Program | Oct. 10 election results | More

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

Proposed tax credit rules for private and homeschooling face criticism from Oklahoma lawmakers: Private and homeschool tax credits are again facing pushback, this time centered around new rules proposed by the Tax Commission, which is the agency in charge of doling out the credits. Some lawmakers who played a role getting the school choice bill across the finish line are concerned the rules aren’t exactly what they had envisioned. [Fox 25]

State Government News

Oklahoma state agencies consider pay hikes as report finds many workers are underpaid: Agency officials are examining and, in some cases, increasing staff pay after a report released this year found that the majority of state employees are underpaid compared to their private-sector counterparts. [Oklahoma Voice]

Senate committee studies ways to improve Oklahoma’s Quality Jobs Program for greater economic benefit: The Senate Business and Commerce Committee held a study on Monday looking at Oklahoma’s Quality Jobs Program and how the job-creation incentives could better serve Oklahomans and the economy. The program offers companies quarterly cash rebates equal to up to 5% of newly created taxable payroll for up to 10 years. [Fox 25]

Lawmakers call for task force to explore state policy on pay for workers with disabilities: As a set of federal guidelines for paying workers with disabilities is expected to end, some are asking how Oklahoma should respond. Certain lawmakers are requesting a task force to develop a framework for the state to guide wage policy for such workers. [Fox 25]

County officials urge lawmakers to increase Oklahoma road, bridge funding: Advocates for county roads and bridges on Tuesday urged state lawmakers to address the rising cost of road repairs and equipment as inflation erodes funding. County commissioners and road experts say ongoing funding limitations that the Legislature imposed in 2015 are impacting the maintenance 83,000 county roads and 14,000 bridges. Funding must be increased to maintain them, in addition to other policy changes. [Oklahoma Voice]

Illegal dumping is a problem in rural Oklahoma. State agencies are working to combat the issue: The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality removed enough illegally disposed of waste in 2022 to cover almost 900 football fields in three feet of trash. The Oklahoma State University Extension Service, USDA and DEQ are hosting an environmental enforcement training for those battling the practice. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

‘Killers of The Flower Moon’ puts Osage Reign of Terror in spotlight, but there’s more to the story: The Osage Reign of Terror didn’t just include one family, and it didn’t stop and start in the 1920s. KOSU examined obituaries, death certificates and talked with family members who say the deaths of great-grandfathers and mothers in their family tree have left lingering questions about what really happened. [KOSU]

  • Trailblazer, world traveler and proud to be Osage: The life of Lillie Morrell Burkhart [KOSU]
  • True number of victims in Osage Reign of Terror unknown [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Oct. 10 election results: Mid-Del Schools voters approve $492 million bond package, while Norman and Bartlesville pass infrastructure bonds: Voters in 22 Oklahoma counties made their voices heard at the ballot box Tuesday on school bonds and other issues. [KGOU]

  • Larry Bush, Dusty Deevers advance to SD 32 general election [NonDoc]
  • Lawton election: Pastor and former OU football player vie for a state senate seat in December [The Oklahoman]
  • Voters pass school bonds in Catoosa, Pretty Water [Tulsa World]
  • Unofficial election results [Oklahoma State Election Board

Criminal Justice News

Court: DOC must pay county jails ‘actual daily cost’ for holding state inmates, but questions remain: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections, which has been paying counties $27 a day per inmate awaiting transfer to state custody, must reimburse county jails for both consumable costs, such as food and clothing, as well as operating expenses incurred as a direct result of holding the inmates, the state Supreme Court ruled has ruled. [NonDoc]

  • Oklahoma high court weighs in on state’s $27 inmate reimbursement rate [Oklahoma Voice]

‘I feel exonerated’: After 30 years, Oklahoma man’s conviction vacated thanks to DNA: A district judge ruled Tuesday to vacate the conviction of a man advocates say was wrongfully imprisoned in a 1987 rape case. Perry Lott, 61, sought to have his conviction overturned after 2014 testing on DNA evidence from a rape kit excluded him as the source. [The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma childcare crisis: Options for more than 30,000 families at risk of losing care: Thousands of Oklahoma families are at risk of losing childcare after $39 billion in federal funding expired, but groups in the state are providing options for those who need it the most. [Fox 25]

Economy & Business News

Workers’ comp case could set new precedent in Oklahoma: An Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals opinion could set a precedent that drastically alters the scope of what’s considered continuing medical maintenance through workers’ compensation. [Journal Record]

Education News

How should Oklahoma’s schools be evaluated?: Currently, Oklahoma’s schools are rated on an A-F scale, but at the Capitol, there’s a growing push to change the system. There’s concern on both sides of the aisle that the current system misrepresents what’s actually going on inside schools. [KOCO]

General News

Massacre descendant requests meeting with Tulsa Mayor: Kristi Williams, a descendant of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre survivors, requested a meeting with the city’s mayor on Monday in a letter that condemned the city’s decision to drape potential victim remains in the Tulsa flag. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Clytie Bunyan editorial on Ryan Walters wins national prize for commentary: The managing editor for diversity, community engagement and opinion with The Oklahoman, placed first among newspapers with circulations over 35,000 for her May 30 editorial calling on legislators to remove state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters for his toxic rhetoric and failure to take on Oklahoma’s extensive education challenges. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Supermarket a sticking point for downtown development, though not necessary, mayor says [Tulsa World]
  • Affordable housing apartment community, Township 21, opens in Owasso [Tulsa World]
  • Second round of public forums set on U.S. 412 conversion to interstate highway [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“It sure makes it look like the accessibility to the tax credit is going to be very difficult for families that don’t already have their child in a school of choice, a private school per se.”

-Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, speaking about new rules proposed by the Oklahoma Tax Commission for the rollout of the state’s private school voucher program, known as the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act. [Fox 25]

Number of the Day

$250 million

The total annual cost of Oklahoma’s private school voucher program (formally known as the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act) from 2026 and onwards. The total amount of the private school tax credit is capped at $150 million for tax year 2024, $200 million for 2025 and $250 million for future years. [OK Policy]

Policy Note

Conservatives are embracing new alternative school models. Will the public?: Most American children — close to 50 million — remain enrolled in traditional public schools. Still, a growing number of states – more than a dozen this year – have either expanded or started voucher programs that steer taxpayer money to these new options, which can include private and religious schools. Late last month, North Carolina became the latest state to pass a universal voucher program. It’s not always clear, however that this money goes directly to schools and parents. [The Hechinger Report]

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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.

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