In The Know: New KIDS COUNT Data Book; OKC fine amnesty; Medicaid expansion hearing today…

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

New KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Oklahoma in bottom 10 states for child well-being: Oklahoma ranks in the bottom 10 states in the nation for child well-being, according to the 2019 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. With an overall ranking of 42nd out of all 50 states, Oklahoma ranked especially low for education (45th) and health (43rd). [OK Policy]

(Capitol Update) Joe Allbaugh resigned, but his critique of Oklahoma’s justice system remains true: Surprisingly, Joe Allbaugh resigned abruptly as Department of Corrections (DOC) director last week. Judging from the comments he made I’d say, put simply, that he was “fed up.” Allbaugh took on the task of restoring and improving DOC about 3 1/2 years ago when the previous director got into hot water after a botched administration of the death penalty. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

In The News

Oklahoma ranks in bottom 10 states in nation for child well-being: Oklahoma is ranked 42nd in the nation for child well-being, according to the 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book study. The study has been done for the last 30 years. According to a release, the study is “the most comprehensive annual report on child well-being in the United States.” Funded through the Annie E. Casey Foundation, it shows “that while there has been progress in helping children thrive since the first Data Book was published in 1990, serious inequities in child outcomes persist.” [FOX25]

Oklahoma high court to hear challenge on Medicaid expansion: A group seeking a public vote on whether to expand Medicaid to tens of thousands of low-income Oklahomans first must clear a legal challenge spearheaded by a conservative think-tank that has long opposed the expansion idea. A hearing is scheduled Tuesday before the Oklahoma Supreme Court on whether the group can proceed with gathering the nearly 178,000 signatures they will need to get the question on the ballot. [AP News]

Ex-judge to oversee opioid settlement discussion: Steven W. Taylor, a retired Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, has been named a special master to try and work out a dispute between state lawmakers and the state attorney general over a pending $85 million settlement agreement between the state of Oklahoma and opioid maker Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. [The Oklahoman] Ruling on opioid settlement with Teva expected in 15 days. [Journal Record]

Amnesty would clear Oklahoma City municipal court dockets, relieve low-level offenders of burdensome costs: Ward 6 Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon says the justice system’s tendency to criminalize poverty would be lessened under a measure being considered by the Oklahoma City Council. The measure would establish an amnesty window, giving thousands of offenders who missed court dates a chance to pay a reduced fine, or have fines excused if they cannot pay. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma County jail trust still gathering information before making decisions: The Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority is still in the preliminary stages of gathering information and hearing reports on the county jail. The newly created trust held its second meeting Monday afternoon, the majority of which was spent going over housekeeping items like understanding the Open Records Act and the Open Meetings Act, as well as having a lawyer go over the trust’s governing document. [The Oklahoman]

Some of the stories behind those involved in jail suicides: A Marine with PTSD, a schizophrenic father, a granddad struggling with depression: They are just some of the many who’ve taken their lives in U.S. jails — a problem experts say is preventable with more training and safeguards. [AP News]

TPD Develops Wellness Program: For as long as Capt. Shellie Seibert can remember, the Tulsa Police Department has had a support team that responds to critical incidents, but officers burdened by chronic exposure to trauma or everyday stresses kept quiet. Officers often see “the worst of parts of society,” and they can experience abrupt transitions from terribly volatile situations to those more run-of-the-mill, Seibert said. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Oklahoma County roads, bridges doing better than most after severe weather: As rain poured down across the state in recent weeks, Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert’s road crew was on night patrol. “I was texting them in the middle of the night to keep an eye on things,” Blumert said. “They go check on bridges and roads. Even if it’s midnight, they’ll go out there and check.” [The Oklahoman]

Corporation Commission seeks to hear from wind businesses before updating rules: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is embarking on a process that likely will tweak its wind development rules as it seeks to implement a new law that harnesses the state’s wind power to support the military. [The Oklahoman]

New council provides nonprofit sector a seat at the table: The Oklahoma Nonprofit Council was established by the Department of Commerce as an offshoot that would advise the DOC and the state Legislature on matters related to the sector. Composed of representatives from 25 of the state’s major nonprofits representing Oklahoma City, Tulsa and rural Oklahoma, the board had its inaugural meeting Thursday with Secretary of Commerce Sean Kouplen to establish the council’s goals to represent the more than 19,000 organizations within Oklahoma’s nonprofit sector. [Journal Record ????]

City of Tulsa to examine ways to improve economic mobility among residents: Tulsa is one of 10 cities selected to be part of a nationwide project to identify barriers to upward economic mobility and to develop and test strategies to address those obstacles, the Mayor’s Office announced Tuesday. The $12 million project is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ballmer Group. [Tulsa World]

School funding: State aid is up for Tulsa Public Schools, but declining enrollment means reserve funds must be tapped to make budget: Declining enrollment is causing Tulsa Public Schools to dig deeper into its fund balance despite a boost in state aid, a trend officials say is unsustainable. The Tulsa school board on Monday approved a preliminary budget for the 2019-20 school year anticipating total revenue of almost $625 million and total expenditures of about $608 million. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma City Public Schools announces new administration, staff positions: Superintendent Sean McDaniel on Friday announced a plan to dedicate $600,000 toward additional administrative, leadership and mental health staff for Oklahoma City Public Schools. McDaniel said the reorganization plan included three more administrative positions and an unspecified number of new leadership directors, school counselors and nurses. [The Oklahoman]

OKCPS paying highest superintendent salary in Oklahoma with new bonus: Oklahoma City Public Schools will pay the highest superintendent salary in the state after the school board approved a $24,000 bonus on Monday. Superintendent Sean McDaniel will earn $264,000 this year with the addition of the one-time stipend. McDaniel is eligible for one performance-based stipend a year that amounts to 10% of his $240,000 base salary. [The Oklahoman

Seeworth Academy briefed on OKCPS transition process: For its upcoming school year, the Justice Alma Wilson Seeworth Academy will be operated by Oklahoma City Public Schools after allegations of financial mismanagement caused the school’s charter to be dissolved. Starting June 30, OKCPS will begin the transition of taking over Seeworth Academy, and the charter school’s board of directors will be terminated. [NonDoc]

OKC leaders target transit for next MAPS: Ward 2 Councilman James Cooper entered office with a goal of restoring walkable neighborhoods and connecting districts with efficient public transit. Cooper says Embark transit has come closer in the past couple of years to achieving its share of that goal. [The Oklahoman]

What will happen with Boren’s statue on OU’s campus? Former President David Boren announced last week he will sever ties with the University of Oklahoma. But his likeness is set to remain a part of OU’s campus, at least for the foreseeable future. In the wake of a sexual misconduct investigation, Boren announced on Wednesday he would give up his president emeritus title, stop teaching political science at the university and forfeit his four free tickets to home football games. [The Oklahoman]

Four more counties approved, three denied for federal disaster assistance: Four more Oklahoma counties were approved for federal disaster assistance in the wake of May storms, and three were denied, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Monday. Cherokee, LeFlore, Noble and Nowata counties joined a list of 17 others previously approved: Canadian, Creek, Delaware, Kay, Logan, Mayes, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Payne, Pottawatomie, Rogers, Sequoyah, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington counties. [Tulsa World]

Cherokee Supreme Court considers appeal in chief’s election: Cherokee Nation Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments Monday in an appeal to set aside the results of the tribe’s June 1 executive branch election. Dick Lay and Meredith Frailey are asking that Principal Chief-elect Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief-elect Bryan Warner be disqualified for knowingly signing off on inaccurate campaign finance reports and accepting more than $375,000 in in-kind contributions from a limited liability corporation, Cherokee Future. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Not only does this take a burden off our Municipal Court and police by clearing out failure-to-appear warrants on charges like a speeding ticket, but it is also another step … in not further criminalizing poverty.”

-Oklahoma City Councilor JoBeth Hamon, on a proposed amnesty window ordinance that would give thousands of offenders who missed court dates a chance to pay a reduced fine or have fines excused if they cannot pay [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Increase in the number of Oklahomans admitted to state funded drug treatment for meth substance abuse issues, from 4,276 in FY 2012 to 8,561 in FY 2018.

[Source: ODMHSAS]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Congress has never let the federal minimum wage erode for this long: When the minimum wage remains unchanged for any length of time, inflation erodes its buying power. As shown in the graphic, when the minimum wage was last raised to $7.25 in July 2009, it had a purchasing power equivalent to $8.70 in today’s dollars. Over the last 10 years, as the minimum wage has remained at $7.25, its purchasing power has declined by 17 percent. [Economic Policy Institute]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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