In The Know: Officials won’t disclose $300 million in manufacturing incentives | Investing COVID relief funds in education | 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

Oklahoma ranks in bottom 10 in annual child well-being report; state lags in health and education support: Oklahoma continues to lag behind most of the country when it comes to the general well-being of its children, according to an annual report released this week. The 2021 Kids Count Data Book, published yearly by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, ranks the state 42nd overall for child well-being. Of the four major categories that help determine the overall grade, Oklahoma was in the bottom 10 in three — health, education, and family and community. [Tulsa World] OK Policy: Smart policy decisions can help improve Oklahoma’s dismal child well-being outcomes

Education Watch: A plan to invest in education with COVID relief funds: The influx of federal funds coming to help students recover from the pandemic presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in education. Most of the funding is allocated directly to districts, but Oklahoma Watch took a look at the slice that was given directly to the Oklahoma Department of Education: $149 million from the American Rescue Plan. [Oklahoma Watch] OK Policy has published a webinar about how ARPA funds can be leveraged in Oklahoma, including on education to support child well-being.

Equalization Board certifies general revenue drop but larger total budget after 2021 law changes: The Oklahoma State Board of Equalization on Monday voted on its final certification of funds for fiscal year 2022, anticipating impacts of changes made in the recently adjourned legislative session. The board certified an FY22 revenue estimate of $6.9 billion and appropriations authority of nearly $6.6 billion, both down 2.1% from the February estimate. The decline was driven by a nearly $148 million drop in projected general revenue, the result of law changes that will affect collections of sales, tobacco, individual and corporate income, mixed beverage, and premium taxes. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Officials won’t disclose incentives to bring car maker to state: Oklahoma officials are refusing to say how much taxpayer money an electric vehicle company will receive from the state in return for agreeing to build its first manufacturing plant in Pryor. Lawmakers and open records watchdogs said the decision by the Governor’s Office and the state’s Department of Commerce to withhold the amount and type of incentives promised to Canoo is unusual. [CNHI via Enid News & Eagle]

  • Auto maker’s development in Pryor gets assist from former Oklahoma U.S. senator [Tulsa World]

State & Local Government News

Oklahoma’s efforts to end its rape kit backlog have led to new delays: As Oklahoma works to address the problem of thousands of old untested rape kits, new laws and a lack of manpower have created a backlog of newer untested kits for much of the state. In the last two years the time it takes for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to process kits has increased from an average of 40 days to more than 300, said division director of criminalistics Andrea Fielding. [The Frontier]

States grapple with closing youth detention centers: As states from California to Maine consider drastic changes to youth detention centers, New Hampshire is grappling with its own facility that has been rocked by abuse allegations from years past. In Oklahoma, three state-run youth facilities are being consolidated into one campus featuring cottages with individual bedrooms and a more therapeutic environment. [ABC News]

Thousands of Oklahomans still eligible for extended SoonerCare benefits: Nearly 120,000 Oklahomans have signed up for the expanded version of Medicaid approved by voters in June 2020, but there are still thousands more eligible who haven’t signed up. [KSWO]

Study says changes to Oklahoma state law could help prevent evictions: The federal eviction moratorium expires next week and some are concerned about a spike in people losing their homes. A recent study by researchers at the University of Tulsa argues that changes to state law could help the situation. [FOX 25] OK Policy and its Open Justice Oklahoma program have been tracking evictions in Oklahoma

  • City of Tulsa working to prevent evictions as moratorium set to expire June 30 [Tulsa World]

Fiscal oversight report: TSET should reprioritize spending: A budget watchdog at the state Capitol issued a report Monday, critiquing the way the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) spends its funds. The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency, or LOFT, suggested in its report that TSET spending is not effective in its mission to lower rates of smoking in the state. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Field seeking to run for Oklahoma governor grows to 5: The number of people planning to run for Oklahoma governor next year is continuing to grow, with two more candidates filing paperwork to seek the office. [AP News]

Tulsa residents who had police citations asked to monitor financial accounts; more info compromised in city’s ransomware attack: People who received Tulsa police citations, made police reports or interacted with the city online are urged to check their financial records, as more information has been compromised as part of the city’s ransomware attack. [Tulsa World]

Federal Government News

GOP senator on DC statehood: ‘No one is compelled to actually’ live there: GOP Sen. James Lankford (Okla.) on Tuesday vocalized opposition to making Washington, D.C., the 51st state in the union, arguing that the nation’s capital has not had voting representatives in Congress for some time and that “no one’s compelled to actually” live there. [The Hill]

Tribal Nations News

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says U.S. will review ‘horrors’ of Native American boarding schools: Federal officials will launch an extensive review into the harm caused by Native American boarding schools, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced Tuesday. Haaland said her department oversaw federal boarding school operations aimed at eradicating Indigenous cultures for more than a century. It has a responsibility to examine the toll of the forced assimilation it carried out, she said. [The Oklahoman] Speaking at the National Congress of American Indians Midyear Conference, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative will include compiling and analyzing the institutions’ records to help figure out how many children died at them and what their ongoing effects on Native American communities are. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economic Opportunity

Tiny homes boost big dreams for Oklahoma’s homeless youth: Trauma has driven Pivot youth services for nearly 50 years, which might explain why the self-proclaimed “turning point for youth” barely slowed while the COVID-19 pandemic traumatized the world. [The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Seed-to-sale delays sow confusion in medical marijuana market: Delays in implementing Oklahoma’s “seed-to-sale” tracking system for medical marijuana have sowed confusion for businesses in the fast-growing cannabis industry as law enforcement authorities step up their enforcement efforts for illicit marijuana products. [Oklahoma Watch]

DarkSide hack on Colonial Pipeline fuels regulators to require better cybersecurity protection: The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration issued a security directive to owners and operators of critical pipeline systems on May 27 that required immediate action to better protect infrastructure from hacks and other types of malicious software. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Regents advance tuition increase, OU Health merger despite questions about timing: Despite the objections of two student leaders and a new regent, the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents today approved OU’s FY 2022 budget, increased a counseling fee for health students and advanced a 2.75 percent increase to mandatory tuition and fees at the Norman campus and the OU College of Law. [NonDoc] The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education will make the final decision on these increases when it evaluates tuition and fee rates on Wednesday. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Oklahoma City Council approves nearly $50 million in police sales tax projects [The Oklahoman]
  • Council recognizes Pride Week, continues ticket amnesty, ends fiscal year [OKC Free Press]
  • Lawton Council delays decision on disbursement of hotel-motel tax revenue [The Lawton Constitution]
  • Greenwood Chamber to expand after being added to National Register of Historic Places [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • PSO names new VP of distribution operations [Tulsa World]
  • Craig County long-term care facility owner facing 170 years on charges of stealing from residents [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • World’s largest augmented reality mural coming to downtown Tulsa [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I think if the taxpayers are giving tax incentives, the taxpayer has the right to know what those incentives are, and how long they’re going to last.”

-State Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, the Senate’s budget chair, speaking about a reported $300 million incentive package offered to a company to open an electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Pryor. Thompson, other lawmakers, and open records advocates have raised concerns that the Governor’s office and the Department of Commerce are withholding a list of the incentives. [CNHI via Stillwater News Press]

Number of the Day


The state average for Oklahoma 4th-graders who are not proficient in reading. The rate is higher for Black children (87%), Latinx (81%), and American Indian (73%). [Source: 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book

Policy Note

As Pandemic Eases, Youth Detention Population Creeps Up: A monthly survey by the Annie E. Casey Foundation of youth justice agencies finds that since last May, the use of juvenile detention is down for white youth, but up for their Black and Latino peers. Black and Latino youth account for an increasing share of the detained population because agencies are slower to release them from detention than white youth, according to data through March 1, 2021. [Annie E. Casey Foundation]

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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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