In The Know: OK candidate spending reaches $33M; education is top issue for voters; OKC city manager to retire…

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

Oklahoma candidate spending reaches $33 million as cash flows through multiple sources: Oklahoma candidates have already spent $33 million running for state offices this election cycle, with nearly half of that being pumped into the governor’s race. Another $2 million has flowed through outside groups, with most of that money targeted at the Republican races for governor and attorney general. [NewsOK] 2018 Oklahoma State Questions and Elections [OK Policy]

Pollsters: Education is the top issue for voters in November: Oklahoma’s November ballots will include races for nearly 100 lawmakers, including re-election bids for some of the state’s most high-profile members. In addition to the statewide races for governor and other top executive positions, a majority of state lawmaker seats are up for grabs. [Journal Record ????] A former Oklahoma teacher of the year has five ideas for how you can honor the work of public school teachers [Stephanie Canada-Phillips / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma City’s longtime city manager, Jim Couch, to retire in January: Jim Couch announced Monday that he would retire in January after 18 years as city manager of Oklahoma City. Couch, 62, said after 31 years with the city he feels like he has “another chapter” to write in his career, though he has no particular plans. A South Dakota native, he said he plans to stay in Oklahoma City. [NewsOK]

Some TIFs create reverse Robin Hood effect, critics say: As tax increment financing districts become more popular, some residents are urging city government and economic development officials to consider all stakeholders – even those that don’t live nearby. These special tax policies have garnered some critics who say the districts can have a reverse Robin Hood effect: take from poor districts to raise funding for rich ones. [Journal Record]

When it comes to eye doctors in big box retailers, where does Oklahoma stand? The political discussion swirling around State Question 793 has turned to wordplay, as supporters have been accused of being deceptive about whether Oklahoma’s current laws are rare or more commonplace. If the state question is adopted in November, Oklahoma eye doctors and opticians could set up shop inside big box retailers like Walmart, Target and Costco. [NewsOK] Read supporting and opposing arguments on SQ 793 with our fact sheet [OK Policy]

(Podcast) From 1994 to 2018: Talking OK elections with Keith Gaddie: Few people in Oklahoma know more about political history, trends and shenanigans than OU professor Keith Gaddie. In this episode of the How We Got Here podcast, Gaddie leads FKG Consulting’s Bryan Fried and NonDoc editor in chief William W. Savage III in a discussion of the 1994 Republican wave election that helped shake up the course of Oklahoma politics for decades to come. [NonDoc] Keith Gaddie previously discussed the forces shaking Oklahoma politics on the OK PolicyCast [OK Policy].

New Census data highlight Oklahoma poverty, uninsured and gender pay gap rates: New Census data shows a growing gap in poverty rates between Oklahoma and other states, a growing number of uninsured Oklahomans and the eighth-highest rate of gender pay inequality in the nation. [Enid News & Eagle] Oklahoma lags behind the nation in our efforts to help families get ahead. [OK Policy]

The Strawberry Capital of the World is the early death capital of the U.S.: lessons from a landmark dataset: In 1949, the Oklahoma legislature proclaimed Stilwell, in the Ozark foothills near the Arkansas border, the Strawberry Capital of the World. This week, Stilwell earned a more discouraging distinction: It has the lowest life expectancy in the country — just 56.3 years, according to the most detailed local health data ever released by the National Center for Health Statistics. [Washington Post]

ABLE Commission answers alcohol seller questions at Tulsa forum: Sweeping changes to Oklahoma’s liquor laws are just two weeks away, and the Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission is trying to tell sellers what to expect. Dozens of current and potential future alcohol vendors, from bar owners to grocers, got the scoop Monday on liquor law changes at a forum in Tulsa. There is still some confusion about what will be allowed under the new laws. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State task force starts work on resource handbook for dyslexia, other reading disorders: A state task force is creating a resource handbook to help Oklahoma’s parents and teachers help kids with dyslexia. Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma founder Michelle Keiper said it’s not too difficult to identify kids with some reading difficulties. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Mass incarceration is a huge problem for indigenous peoples in Oklahoma. Here’s what I’m doing to help: My name is Isabel Coronado and I am a citizen of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation. I am of the wind clan and Thlopthlocco tribal town. I recently turned 22 years old and I am working toward a Master’s Degree in Public Health with an emphasis on rural and underserved communities at Oklahoma State University. I grew up as the child of a single Indigenous teen mother; she gave birth to me when she was 17 years old. Later, she found how harsh the world is — in order to survive, she turned to illegal activity to support us. [Isabel Coronado / Teen Vogue]

Former Oklahoma senator sentenced to prison for child sex trafficking: Former state Sen. Ralph Shortey was sentenced Monday to federal prison after he tearfully apologized in court for “leading a double life of sin for the past few years.” A judge ordered Shortey to serve 15 years in prison for a sexual tryst with a teenage boy at a Moore hotel early March 9, 2017. Shortey, 36, pleaded guilty in November to child sex trafficking and faced up to life in prison. [NewsOK]

Quote of the Day

“I’ve overcome both statistics of becoming a teen mother and becoming incarcerated myself. I did this by staying on birth control and making education my number-one priority.”

-Mvskoke (Creek) Nation citizen Isabel Coronado, writing about how mass incarceration is affecting indigenous peoples in Oklahoma [Teen Vogue]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s ranking for percentage of our state’s population under age 18. In 2016, 24.8% of Oklahomans were under 18.

[National Education Association]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

New study: High minimum wages in six cities, big impact on pay, no employment losses: The minimum wages analyzed in the report reached much higher levels than any previous policies. The federal minimum wage remains $7.25, unchanged since 2009. “When these minimum wage policies were being considered, some predicted that they would lead to significant job losses. We did not find such job losses. We did find that these cities’ minimum wage policies increased the earnings of low-wage workers, just as intended,” said Carl Nadler, co-author of the report. [Institute for Research on Labor and Employment]

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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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