In The Know: McCurtain Co. Commissioner resigns | Lawmakers stuck in private school tax credits talks | Addressing homelessness requires coordination

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.

New from OK Policy

Policy Matters: Addressing homelessness requires coordinated efforts: Oklahomans are at our best when we work cooperatively with our friends and neighbors in need. The governor’s announcement last week that he was disbanding the state’s Interagency Council on Homelessness stands in stark contrast to this community-focused approach at the heart of our “Oklahoma standard.” Created in 2004, the Interagency Council on Homelessness convened regular meetings between state agencies, nonprofits, and individuals focused on removing barriers to housing, coordinating grants, and sharing program updates. They were in the process of updating the state’s five-year plan to address homelessness, a plan that now may never be completed. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Video: Why Taxes Matter? Highlight from OK Policy’s 2023 State Budget Update (March 2023): Emma Morris, Fiscal Policy and Health Care Analyst for the Oklahoma Policy Institute, discusses why state revenue (i.e., taxes) are important for Oklahoma’s long-term well-being. Taxes are – at their core – an illustration of community, and they represent what we contribute to live in a functioning society. [Emma Morris / OK Policy] | [More from 2023 State Budget Update

Oklahoma News

The McCurtain County sheriff said an explosive recording was illegally obtained. Was it?: The fallout continues in McCurtain County, mere days after a print-only newspaper published a controversial recording of an alleged conversation in which local officials were discussing a plot to kill reporters and making hateful comments about Black people. The sheriff’s office announced an investigation of the publisher for possible violations of Oklahoma law, but the newspaper said its publisher consulted with attorneys, who assured him he was doing nothing illegal. [The Oklahoman]

  • McCurtain Co. commissioner resigns amid controversy over violent remarks [The Oklahoman]
  • Full audio released of Oklahoma sheriff discussing killing journalists [The Oklahoman]
  • McCurtain County commissioner resigns [Tulsa World]
  • McCurtain County commissioner resigns after racist recording leak [Black Wall Street Times]

As Legislature negotiates private school tax credit, tuition cap floated to break stalemate: Republican leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature are negotiating their competing versions of a new refundable tax credit paid to families who send their children to private schools. With the rest of the session’s budget negotiations have been delayed until an education agreement is reached, leaders of the House, Senate and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration have been kicking around alternate parameters for the controversial private school tax credit in an effort to strike a deal. [NonDoc]

State Government News

Senate overrides Stitt veto of bill dealing with Health Care Authority funds: The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday overrode Gov. Kevin Stitt’s veto of a bill that dealt with money going to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Stitt on Monday vetoed Senate Bill 1130, calling it imprudent. The measure took about $600 million in surplus funds from the state’s Medicaid agency for fiscal year 2023 and appropriated it back to the agency for fiscal year 2024. [Tulsa World]

  • Senate overrides governor’s veto of health care appropriation [The Oklahoman]

Stand alone teacher pay raise bill gets amended to eliminate pay bump: A teacher pay raise bill is passed out of the House budget committee, but an amendment changes the author’s original intent. Senate Bill 482 was passed in the Senate weeks ago. It would have increased the minimum pay schedule for first-time teachers by $3,000 and adds up to $6,000 based on years of experience. [KFOR]

Narcan, other life-saving drugs in overdose situations closer to being available in Oklahoma: Narcan and similar life-saving drugs in overdose situations are one step closer to being more widely available in Oklahoma. House lawmakers advanced two bills that would look to equip jails and hospitals with the drugs. They will become law as soon as the governor adds his signature. [KOCO]

Criminal Justice News

Rep. Dean Davis pleads no contest to a municipal public intoxication charge?: State Rep. Dean Davis has pleaded no contest to a municipal public intoxication charge. Davis, R-Broken Arrow, was arrested at 2:15 a.m. March 23 at Skinny Slim’s, a bar in Bricktown in Oklahoma City, after it had closed for the night. He denied any wrongdoing later that day on the House floor. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Oklahoma, United Kingdom pledge to increase trade: A memorandum of understanding between Oklahoma and the United Kingdom pledges to increase trade through deepening economic development and recognizes the two governments as energy leaders with a shared focus on reliable and affordable energy. Gov. Kevin Stitt and Nigel Huddleston, U.K. minister for international trade, signed the MOU during a meeting Tuesday in Washington, D.C. Oklahoma was the fourth state to enter into such an agreement with the U.K. [Journal Record]

Education News

Students of the COVID-19 Era: How the Pandemic followed them to Langston University, Oklahoma’s only HBCUStudents of the COVID-19 Era: The coronavirus pandemic may be waning across much of the globe. However, for many students at Langston University – the only Oklahoma historically Black college and university – the aftereffects still impact their lives at its campuses in Langston, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoma Eagle]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Mayor’s proposed $966.8 million budget includes reorganization of city services, utility rate increases [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma County Clerk Maressa Treat starts role with focus on staff [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“One of the issues that’s always been a problem: Public schools? We take them all. We take everyone. We educate every kid that wants to come. Private schools? They’re not that way.”

-Rep. Mark Vancuren, R-Owasso, a former high school teacher who serves as vice chairman of the House Common Education Committee, sharing his concerns over proposals that would provide parents with refundable tax credits for private school enrollment. [NonDoc

Number of the Day


Corporate income tax collections in Oklahoma represented about 7.4% of state revenue collections during the last fiscal year (FY 2022), which ended on June 30, 2022. [Oklahoma Tax Commission]

Policy Note

What does race have to do with taxes? (audio): This episode looks at the racial landmines in our tax code with Dorothy A. Brown, a tax expert and author of “The Whiteness Of Wealth: How The Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans And How To Fix It.” Her work over the past few decades laid the groundwork for the first research study released earlier this year uncovering the racial disparities in how the IRS audits taxpayers. [NPR]

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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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