In The Know: OK collections top estimate; VA chief criticizes audit; Gathering Place gun policy in question…

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

Finance officials report Oklahoma collections top estimate: Collections to Oklahoma’s main state operating fund exceeded the official estimate by nearly 7 percent in August, buoyed mostly by better-than-expected individual income tax collections. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services released figures on Tuesday that show collections to the General Revenue Fund totaled $455 million last month. That’s an increase of 6.6 percent from the monthly estimate and nearly 10 percent over collections during the same month last year. [AP News]

Veterans affairs chief criticizes critical audit: The head of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday disputed several statements in an audit highly critical the agency he leads. Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director Doug Elliott said during Tuesday’s commission meeting that many of the statements in the audit were not factual. The audit was requested in June 2017 by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter after his office received complaints from lawmakers and former staff. [Tulsa World]

‘In One Minute’ Video: The Lieutenant Governor’s Race: Find out who’s running for lieutenant governor of Oklahoma on Nov. 6 and the role the office plays in state government. This video series is presented by Oklahoma Watch and is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Watch] Find important dates, voter tools, and candidate information on our State Question and Elections page. [OK Policy]

GOP nominee for Oklahoma Senate flipped between parties during campaign: A quirk in Oklahoma’s voter registration laws allowed a Senate candidate to run on the Republican ballot, even though she registered with the Democratic Party before filing for office. Becki Maldonado is the Republican nominee for Senate District 16, which covers parts of Norman and rural Cleveland County. The lifelong Republican joined the Democratic Party during the first week of the teacher walkout in April, several days before she filed for office. Her new registration was put on hold because of Oklahoma’s party change blackout period, however, meaning it wouldn’t take effect until Sept. 1. Because of the delay, she appeared on the Republican primary ballot. [NewsOK]

K-12 Funding Cuts Contributing to Inadequate Teacher Pay: Teachers in every state are paid less on average than other similarly educated workers, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and the University of California, Berkeley’s Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics (CWED), and the gap is growing. This erosion reflects state policy choices, not weak state economies. As our analysis of K-12 funding trends shows, the three states where teachers fare the worst — Arizona, North Carolina, and Oklahoma — have deeply cut taxes in recent years and imposed some of the biggest cuts in general school funding since 2008. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

Oklahoma City Council hears testimony on proposal to reduce penalties for marijuana and paraphernalia: The Oklahoma City Council heard public testimony Tuesday on an ordinance that would eliminate jail terms and reduce fines for possession of marijuana and some drug paraphernalia. If the proposed ordinance is adopted, Oklahoma City’s punishments for marijuana possession would fall from a maximum $1,200 fine and up to six months in jail to a maximum fine of $400 with no jail time. [StateImpact Oklahoma] Medical marijuana in the sooner state: An update from Jackie Fortier of StateImpact Oklahoma. [Public Radio Tulsa]

OKC finalizes funding commitment for American Indian Museum: The city’s share of funding the decades-delayed American Indian Cultural Center and Museum was locked into City Hall’s budget Tuesday. By City Council vote, Oklahoma City’s Capital Improvement Projects Fund will be increased by $7.5 million from a higher-than-expected balance remaining from the fiscal year ended June 30. With other money previously set aside, a total of $9 million will finally allow the completion of the AICCM, which has been waiting for $65 million of work. Oklahoma legislators launched the idea of a tribal heritage tourist attraction nearly 25 years ago, but failed to follow up with enough funding to finish it. [Journal Record ????]

Heartland headquarters incentives deal advances in Oklahoma City Council: The Oklahoma City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to allow city staff to finalize incentive agreements that would provide $1 million in jobs payments and another $2.3 million in tax increment financing for a seven-story downtown headquarters to be built for Heartland Payment Systems. The terms of the deal call for the job incentives to be paid from general obligation limited tax bonds passed last year by voters if the company follows through on hiring at least 345 new employees for the headquarters with an average fifth year wage of $55,000. [NewsOK]

School board approves calendar changes: A calendar change approved Monday night will mean a later start date and a longer summer for students enrolled in Oklahoma’s largest school district. The school board voted 6-1 to replace Oklahoma City Public Schools’ 8-year-old continuous calendar with a modified version that features a mid-August start date and a week off for Thanksgiving. Gone are two-week breaks in October and March beginning with the 2019-20 school year. [NewsOK]

Proposed truancy ordinance headed back to Tulsa City Council: City Councilor Karen Gilbert hopes to bring her proposed school truancy ordinance back to the City Council by early October, she said Monday. Until then, she and other members of the Truancy Prevention Task Force plan to continue compiling a list of recommendations for councilors to consider when formalizing the ordinance. They took another stab at it Monday, when Assistant City Prosecutor Hayes Martin spoke about how the therapeutic court that is part of the proposed ordinance would work. [Tulsa World] Tulsa has better options than punitive responses to truancy and homelessness. [OK Policy]

Gathering Place gun policy in question; Second Amendment group says policy against law: Gathering Place officials’ decision over the weekend to turn away three people carrying handguns into the park has prompted questions about whether the 66.5-acre recreation area is public or private, and what that means for handgun policies on the property. This much is clear: Gathering Place’s handgun policy is not in keeping with River Parks Authority’s policy, or with the policies of the city and county parks systems. Each of those public entities follows state law, which supersedes local ordinances as it relates to handgun regulations. [Tulsa World]

From Sept. 11 to Mollie Tibbetts, we must rise above our resentment: In mid-August 2001, my family planned a reunion gathering in Colorado. My only brother, David, and I both lived in New York City at that time, he in Manhattan and me in Brooklyn. We met up briefly at the airport for breakfast before taking different flights out west for the reunion. [Andrew Rice / NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“If things continue to trend the way we are, and we see the results we are seeing across the country, women are going to build momentum. And as more women step up and encourage other women to run, I think this is definitely something we can achieve in next decade.”

-Liz Waggoner, executive director of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition, speaking about when women might reach equal representation in the Oklahoma Legislature [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Percentage increase of women incarcerated in the Tulsa County Jail between 1970 and 2016.

[Vera Institute of Justice]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Race, discipline, and safety at U.S. public schools: A careful examination of this data also calls into question how the Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos is interpreting it. In a recent publication highlighting the data on “school climate and safety,” the administration reported on the number of school shootings without checking for errors, potentially inflating the number of school shootings by the hundreds. Instead of proceeding with care, the administration is now using the flawed data on school shootings to emphasize a need for more school discipline — which has turned schools into militarized places that deprive students of color of an equal education, as previously reported by earlier administrations. [ACLU]

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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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