In The Know: New budget won’t offset decades of cuts for some state agencies

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.

In The News

New budget won’t offset decades of cuts for some state agencies: Armed with a record $7.6 billion state budget and $474 million in new taxes and revenue hikes, Oklahoma lawmakers voted this year to boost spending for some agencies that have spent years cutting staff and services. [The Oklahoman] The FY 2019 Budget: Been down so long this looks like up [OK Policy]

Oklahoma Legislature wraps up 2018 session, heads home: The Oklahoma Legislature has wrapped up the 2018 legislative session, heading home early after a year that included two special sessions, massive teacher protests and a last-minute flurry of emotionally charged proposals. The House and Senate both adjourned late Thursday, three weeks earlier than required under the state Constitution. [AP]

5 Things That Happened During The 2018 Legislative Session: After two special sessions left over from last year’s budget woes, a teacher protest that lasted almost two weeks and more than a year of struggling to find funds for state services, lawmakers passed a $7.6 billion dollar state budget in April, the largest in state history. Here’s a few more of state lawmakers’ accomplishments this year. [KGOU]

“Vulnerable Oklahomans were not forgotten,” DHS making plans for $35 million funding increase: Last week, Gov. Fallin signed a multi-billion budget bill into law. Under Senate Bill 1600, DHS would receive a $34 million increase for the upcoming fiscal year. Officials say the measure, along with an expected increase in the state’s federal matching dollars for Medicaid programs, will allow the agency to provide services to individuals with developmental disabilities on the waiting list, increase provider and foster parent reimbursement rates, and provide employees agency-wide with pay raises. [KFOR] Take a number: Oklahomans with disabilities face devastating delays [OK Policy]

Oklahoma Legislature still has much work to do: Oklahoma lawmakers are celebrating an early end to the 2018 legislative session. There is no question they’ve made substantial progress in tackling the budget challenges that have plagued the state for the past decade. But much unfinished work remains for future Legislatures. [David Blatt/The Oklahoman]

State superintendent: Governor ‘wrong’ to veto measure needed to streamline third-grade reading tests: Gov. Mary Fallin delivered a surprise blow to the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s implementation of the state’s new academic standards and student assessments this week, and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is responding with sharp criticism. “Gov. Fallin has been wrong on education policy before, and her veto of this legislation is wrong, as well,” Hofmeister said Friday. [Tulsa World]

A doctor’s three-point prescription for a healthier Oklahoma: In 1990, when I was a medical student, Oklahoma was in the middle of the pack on most measures. But, 26 years later, we are foundering. Our national ranking in life expectancy fell from 36th to 47th, living on average 75.0 years from birth to death in 1990 and gaining only eight more months of life in 2016. [Dr. Brent W. Beasley/Tulsa World] Updating drug courts is important, but Oklahoma must invest in all forms of substance abuse treatment [OK Policy]

The obscure tax rule that’s stopping US states from paying teachers more: One way to invest more in books, schools and teachers would be to raise taxes. But most of the states with striking teachers face a special obstacle that makes that nearly impossible: “Supermajority” tax measures, which require a wider-than-normal margin of legislators to vote for tax increases. Cutting taxes in these states is easy, but reversing those cuts to fix problems like underfunded schools, is tough. [Quartz] SQ 640 has made Oklahoma ungovernable [OK Policy]

The 2018 Legislature was good, but not good enough, and that’s what voters need to remember in June and November: For the first time in a very long time, the Oklahoma Legislature made progress on critical issues facing the state in 2018. If we had to wrap up the work of lawmakers in the regular and in special sessions in five words or less, those words would be: Good, but hardly good enough. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

Watchdog questions Pruitt’s reimbursements in Oklahoma campaign: A CNN analysis has found that embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt paid himself nearly $65,000 in reimbursements from his two campaigns for Oklahoma attorney general, a move at least one election watchdog has sharply criticized as being recorded so vaguely that there was no way to tell if such payments were lawful. [CNN]

As modernization approaches, lawmakers finalize alcohol regulations: Last-minute legislation prevented the need for a special session to deal with Oklahoma’s new alcohol modernization laws, the bill’s author said. House Floor Leader Jon Echols said Senate Bill 1173, which passed both chambers Thursday just hours before lawmakers adjourned for the year, is the bare minimum of law needed before the voter-enacted changes go into effect. [The Oklahoman]

After adjournment, Legislature could return for 3rd special session: Lawmakers said they could be back as early as July to hash out lingering education and medical marijuana issues that went unaddressed in the final days of the shortened session, which usually ends the final Friday in May. [CNHI]

Oklahoma isn’t investing in its own children… or its own future: Oklahomans should be worried. As the state budget has been cut and cut again over the last 10 years, the cumulative impact on our children has been disastrous. [Susan Harris/Tulsa World] The Cost of Tax Cuts in Oklahoma [OK Policy]

Passage of adoption bill represents shift in Oklahoma: Bills aimed at curtailing LGBT rights have been derailed in the deeply conservative Oklahoma Legislature in recent years as many Republicans grew weary of voting on measures that allow for discrimination against gay people. But in a shift, the Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill to grant legal protections to faith-based adoption agencies that won’t place children in LGBT homes. [Washington Post] I grew up in foster care—until my dads gave me the family I always dreamed of [Lupe Tolvar/Newsweek]

Quote of the Day

“If you go to the right places, you’re going to be able to find people that don’t want to raise taxes. I (think the referendum) is a little misguided, a lot misguided. I know for a fact that knocking doors, talking to neighbors that even people that don’t want higher taxes or anything like that, are not for this.”

– Rep. Jacob Rosecrants (D-Norman) on the veto referendum effort by Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! to roll back the funding for teacher pay raises and increased education funding (Source)

Number of the Day


On-time graduation rate in Oklahoma’s K-12 virtual schools, 2016-17.

Source: National Education Policy Center

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Even if they want to go to college, millions of adults live in higher education “deserts”: Distance and technology hinder the college aspirations of a surprising number of rural Americans. About 3 million adults live more than 25 miles from a college or university and lack the sufficient internet speeds to take online courses, the Urban Institute reported in February.While that’s only 1.3 percent of the nation’s population, nearly 12 percent of Native Americans and indigenous Alaskans live in these so-called education deserts, the institute found. That makes them 16 percentage points less likely to attend college than Americans who live close to college campuses, and even less likely to complete it — 18 percentage points. [Hechinger Report]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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