In The Know: OKC shows promise of local justice reform; teachers’ union seeks new revenue; the next step for OK schools…

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.

Early-bird registration for our 6th Annual State Budget Summit available until January 11th: The 2019 State Budget Summit will be on Thursday, January 24th, 2019 in Oklahoma City. In addition to panels with state leaders, the event will feature keynote speaker William Julius Wilson, the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. To purchase tickets or view the full schedule, visit our event page.

New from OK Policy

Statement: Even with healthy revenue growth, Oklahoma is a long way from recovery: Oklahoma Policy Institute released the following statement on the new revenue certifications projecting $612 million growth in what lawmakers may appropriate in next year’s budget: The healthy revenue growth projected by Oklahoma officials gives lawmakers an opportunity to undo some of the damage caused by years of stagnant funding and shrinking services. [OK Policy]

The Oklahoma City Police Department shows the promise of local justice reform: Most discussions about criminal justice in Oklahoma center on our prison system, which is responsible for maintaining our highest-in-the-world incarceration rate but is dangerously underfunded. While our high incarceration rate may be the most pressing issue, law enforcement agencies are the piece of the justice system that can have the biggest impact on public safety. The evidence is clear that law enforcement can reduce crime by building strong relationships with their communities, working with them to resolve problems, and focusing prevention efforts in the geographical areas with the highest incidence of serious crime. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: The next step for Oklahoma schools: By approving an average $6,100 pay raise for teachers, last year’s Legislature took a crucial first step in addressing the most immediate challenge facing Oklahoma’s schools. This 18 percent bump in pay makes Oklahoma’s salary schedule more competitive with surrounding states and should slow the exodus of teachers that has forced school districts to issue thousands of emergency certifications to fill vacant positions. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

Teachers’ union seeks bulk of new revenue for schools: Oklahoma’s largest teachers union is seeking $400 million in new annual spending for educator salaries and classroom funding, believing the state will have plenty of additional money next year to meet the request. “Oklahoma is on sound financial ground and our plan is certainly feasible,” said Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, which helped lead a two-week teacher walkout in April. [NewsOK ????

State agencies target surplus funds in big budget requests: Lawmakers will likely have about $600 million more to spend during the next legislative session, and although agencies will be fighting over the money, it’s unclear how willing officials will be to part with it.  [Journal Record ????] Just hours after state leaders learned there may be millions more to spend next year, newly elected Gov. Kevin Stitt had a blunt warning for the Republican-controlled Legislature. [CHNI]

Report: Budget cuts have affected fine arts programs in schools across Oklahoma: While education advocates are fighting for higher school funding, a new report suggests that many Oklahoma children are not being introduced to the fine arts. In 2017, many Oklahoma schools were left with some tough choices after their budgets were slashed. [KFOR]

Sen. Bice to hold two leadership posts in upcoming Legislature: State Sen. Stephanie Bice will hold two top leadership posts in the 57th Legislature.  Bice will serve as chair of the Senate Finance Committee. She is only the second woman to serve as chair and the first Republican woman to head that committee. Bice will also continue her role as Assistant Floor Leader. First named to that leadership position in 2016, she is the first Republican woman to serve in that post and only the second woman to do so since statehood. [Edmond Sun]

Chancellor presents legislative agenda: Strengthening Oklahoma’s workforce pipeline through degree and certificate completion continues to be the state system of higher education’s top priority, Chancellor Glen D. Johnson said on Wednesday. Johnson presented the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s budget request for the fiscal year starting July 1 and 2019 legislative agenda to an audience of lawmakers, community leaders and educators at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. [Journal Record ????]

Proposed legislation aims to reduce trauma experienced by Oklahoma school children: Two measures introduced in the state senate aim to reduce trauma experienced by children in schools. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa, who before entering politics worked as a therapist at a nonprofit mental health agency. In Senate Bill 72 schools would be prohibited from using mechanical restraints to restrict a child’s movement. [FOX25]

Maura Guten of CAN: ‘Assuring that children and their families have the resources they need … is critical to their healing and success’: Child Abuse Network was developed in 1986 as a way to reduce trauma and enhance services for child abuse victims during the investigative process. Before our program came into existence, children often endured multiple interviews and stressful examinations in sterile facilities. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma hospital offered $23 million loan to buy itself: A hospital in western Oklahoma could get more than $23 million in loans to essentially buy itself, an odd arrangement made to comply with federal rural development rules. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced earlier this month that it would make loans and grants worth $501 million available to rural health projects across the country. [NewsOK]

Prague city council votes to try to help hospital stay in business: On Tuesday evening, the City of Prague held an emergency meeting to talk about the future of its hospital. Last week, there was growing concern among employees when they weren’t paid on time. At the end of a closed session, the city council voted to start negotiating with the company that runs the hospital, EmpowerHMS, and if necessary take them to court. [FOX25]

OSU gets more financial support for work to address state opioid crisis: The OSU Center for Health Sciences has received two grants totaling more than $1.8 million to help with Oklahoma’s opioid addiction epidemic. A $1.4 million Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant through the state health department will let the Center for Wellness and Recovery respond to the opioid crisis in the same way health organizations respond to disease outbreaks. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Tulsa Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper wants ‘to build trust’ through public hearings on police practice: City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper plans to move forward in January with her plan to have the City Council hold public hearings into racial disparities in police practices outlined in the 2018 Tulsa Equality Indicators report, she said Wednesday.“One of the goals we want to (accomplish) is to build trust in this city amongst the citizens and our government,” she said. “That is why, to a large degree, that we have public hearings, so that people feel safe to talk about it.” [Tulsa World]

State gives green light to new poultry operation after suspending applications: The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry approved six new poultry houses in Adair County one day after its board voted to temporarily suspend new applications for large commercial chicken farms, records show. Some residents who have opposed the expansion of poultry operations in eastern Oklahoma say the department went against its own suspension on accepting and processing applications. [The Frontier]

OHP Captain under investigation for allegedly blackmailing DPS commissioner, others, in exchange for political appointment, promotion: An Oklahoma Highway Patrol captain is under criminal investigation for allegedly blackmailing the department of public safety commissioner, threatening to expose alleged “improprieties” in the OHP, while seeking the commissioner’s support for a political appointment or a promotion, according to newly filed court documents. [KFOR]

Quote of the Day

“There was a lot of legislation that actually puts us on a much stabler footing and more sound, balanced budget. We do have economic growth, which is always good, also, but the majority of it, yes, was by legislative action.”

-House Appropriations Chair Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, pointing out that much of Oklahoma’s projected revenue growth next year would not exist without recent tax increases [Source: Enid News & Eagle]

Number of the Day


The percentage increase in Oklahoma prison admissions in FY 2018.

[Source: Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Poll: Young people more likely to defer health care because of cost: We also asked people if they – or members of their household — had difficulty paying for some kind health care service in the preceding three months. A quarter said yes. And again the strain varied by age, with 41 percent of people under 35 saying they had experienced difficulty while only 11 percent of people 65 and older had. Almost all the respondents to the survey, about 97 percent, had some form of health coverage. [NPR]

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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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