In The Know: Lawmakers get funding boost; Stitt undecided on agency directors; where kids aren’t vaccinated…

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.

New from OK Policy

Bill Watch: We have a budget: On Wednesday, Republican leaders announced they had reached agreement on an $8.3 billion state budget. That budget was approved in House and Senate committees yesterday and should go to final vote in both chambers today and early next week. In a statement, we shared that the budget brings welcome progress in a few areas but also includes many missed opportunities. We’ll have a much deeper dive on the budget soon. In the meantime, here’s what happened this week on other bills we’re following. [OK Policy]

In The News

Oklahoma Governor, Legislature Get Huge Spending Boosts: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt will see his office budget more than double under the state’s new spending plan and the House and Senate also will see huge funding boosts, according to documents released Friday. While most state agencies received an average increase of 5%, the Senate budget increased by 25% and the House received a nearly 60% boost. [Associated Press]

Agreement Made on an FY2020 Budget, a Challenge to Medicaid Expansion & Gallogly Retires: This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU’s Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about a final agreement on a budget between legislative leaders and Governor Stitt and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank, levels a constitutional challenge against an initiative petition to put Medicaid expansion before voters on the 2020 ballot. [KOSU]

What’s Next For The Budget Bill?: Gov. Kevin Stitt and Republican leaders in Oklahoma’s Senate and House of Representatives announced an agreement on the state budget last week. KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley discuss the deal, some of its sticking points for Democrats and what’s next for legislators. [KGOU]

With newfound hiring power, Stitt still interviewing for state agency directors: After the Oklahoma Legislature granted Gov. Kevin Stitt unprecedented oversight of certain state agencies this year, Stitt has not made sweeping changes to who leads some the state’s largest agencies.He is still mulling over who he wants to lead the Department of Corrections, Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. [The Oklahoman ????]

Bill of Rights monument slated for Oklahoma capitol: Oklahoma has a storied history of monuments at the Capitol after a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds incited a legal battle over the separation of church and state. But comedian Chris Bliss has a vision for erecting at Oklahoma’s Capitol a monument that would be unifying instead of polarizing. [The Oklahoman]

About 90% of state kindergartners up-to-date on vaccines, but exemption rate above 20% in some schools: Nearly 1,200 kindergartners across Oklahoma opted out of one or more required vaccinations during the 2017-18 school year with exemption rates at some schools exceeding 20%, according to a state Health Department survey. [Tulsa World]

OKC rally calls for safer infrastructure, demonstrates protected bike lane: Around 100 people, mostly bicyclists, gathered in McKinley Park near NW 13th and Classen Blvd Sunday advocating deeper development of a safer city through its infrastructure.The two simultaneous events were called “Every Street a Safe Street” and “Critical Mass Bike Ride.” [Oklahoma City Free Press]

City leaders, 1921 centennial commission visit national memorials to get ideas for future race massacre center: A brigade of community leaders and representatives of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission made a recent trip to Alabama in order to learn how best to tell the story of the massacre and its lasting impression on the city of Tulsa. [Tulsa World]

NextEra backs out of controversial wind farm construction in western Oklahoma: After a fight with Oklahoma over wind farm encroachment of nearby military air bases, NextEra Energy announced it will not proceed with construction of two wind farms in western Oklahoma. The 220-megawatt Minco V farm and the 250-Megawatt Crowder wind project were originally planned last year but were met with resistance from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission and the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission. [OK Energy Today]

Oklahoma is once again looking to cancel health care for poor children if their mail is returned deliverable: It looks like the state really is going to cut off health care to poor Oklahomans — most of them children — if they can’t be reached by mail. This time, we can blame the federal government. Using returned mail to verify Medicaid eligibility is an idea that fundamentally misunderstands the nature of poverty, homelessness, mental illness and the way people communicate in the 21st century. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World]

Stitt promises Oklahoma solutions to health care problems. Here’s an idea — Medicaid expansion: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s people say he’s working on an Oklahoma solution to Oklahoma’s health-care problems. We await eagerly. If Stitt uses the business metrics that he said would be his guide when he was a candidate for governor, it’s hard to imagine how he would turn away from available federal funding for improved health-care coverage, a critical part to any Oklahoma solution. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

On Oklahoma bail reform, facts win over innuendo: Bail and jail in Oklahoma have become about money before justice. The Legislature can fix this with Senate Bill 252. This important bail reform bill ends excessive pretrial jail stays for people accused of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, saving nearly $9 million annually in county tax dollars. Opponents have attacked it with innuendo but few facts. [Sue Ann Arnall / The Oklahoman] Thousands of Oklahomans are sitting in jails — convicted of no crimes — simply because they don’t have enough money to pay bail. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World] An Open Justice Oklahoma report found that bail reform could save Oklahoma counties and communities millions.

Quote of the Day

“Despite financial struggles, Angela had secured financial aid, scholarships and extra jobs so she could afford college. After a misdemeanor drug arrest, she remained in jail for five months because she couldn’t afford $500 bail. She lost her housing, belongings and car. Saddest of all, she was forced to give up her college admission and tuition because she couldn’t complete her coursework. Taxpayers also lost — paying nearly $10,000 to hold Angela in jail. Under SB 252, Angela would have been home within 48 hours and back in class.”

-Sue Ann Arnall, writing in defense of a bill to reform bail in Oklahoma [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day

$6,405

Average pay increase needed for women in Oklahoma to be paid the same as comparable men.

[Status of Women in the States]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Needle Exchanges Find New Champions Among Republicans: Once repellent to conservative politicians, needle exchanges are now being endorsed and legalized in Republican-controlled states. At least four legislatures have considered bills to allow hypodermic needle exchanges, and two states, Georgia and Idaho, made them legal this year. In each of these states, the House and Senate are controlled by Republicans and the governor is a Republican. [Kaiser Health News]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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