In The Know: Oklahoma among least transparent budget process | ‘Level of finality’ in McGirt standing | COVID situation ‘dire’ in hospitals

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.

NOTE: Our “In The Know” newsletter will be on hiatus on Thursday, Jan. 27, while OK Policy hosts the 8th State Budget Summit. If you have not yet registered for the the State Budget Summit, there’s still time. [Click here to learn more and register]

New from OK Policy

Oklahoma among least transparent states for state budget process, new OK Policy report shows: A new report from the Oklahoma Policy Institute shows that Oklahoma is among the nation’s least transparent states when engaging its residents during the development of the annual state budget. The latest report on Oklahoma’s budget transparency showed that during the 2021 Legislative Session, Oklahoma lawmakers unveiled the Fiscal Year 2022 budget (for the year starting July 1, 2021) in mid-May during the last weeks of session. This provided Oklahomans — and even many legislators — only three days between the public unveiling of the $7.7 billion budget and Gov. Stitt’s approval three days later. OK Policy’s new “Focus on Transparency” report serves as a companion to the organization’s “A Better Path Forward,” a comprehensive analysis of the state’s budget and tax system that the organization released in fall 2021. [OK Policy

Oklahoma News

Anoatubby cites ‘finality’ as US Supreme Court rejects 32 McGirt petitions: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected 32 petitions filed by Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor asking justices to revisit their 2020 decision that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was never disestablished. Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said the court’s action “establishes a new level of certainty and finality” to the decision in the McGirt v Oklahoma case and the related cases affirming five other reservations in Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman

Gas bills going up: Commission OK’s ONG’s $1.357 billion in costs from February cold snap: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved a financing order on Tuesday linked to the securitization of $1.357 billion in Oklahoma Natural Gas costs arising from the extended cold spell in February. [Tulsa World

  • Divided Corporation Commission approves order to hike natural gas bills $7.82 a month to help pay for storm recovery [The Oklahoman
  • OCC approves monthly charge for ONG customers to pay for February 2021 winter storm [Enid News & Eagle]
  • Supreme Court should stop securitization racket [Editorial / NonDoc

Health News

Watch Now: ‘A dire situation’: Overwhelmed hospitals set record for COVID patients locally: Saying hospitals are “overwhelmed,” Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart called the situation “dire” as Tulsa County set a record Tuesday for overall COVID-19 hospitalizations. Dart said it’s too soon to know whether cases have hit their peak here or are still climbing. [Tulsa World

  • Some Oklahomans are now eligible for fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine [The Oklahoman
  • (Audio) Long Story Short: A Looming Nursing Home Mandate, School Enrollment Changes, A Criminal Justice Survey [Oklahoma Watch

OSDH: Much work to be done if agency wants to leave ‘trailing edge of public health’: The Oklahoma State Department of Health says it’s at the beginning of a major overhaul. Speaking to a state Senate appropriations subcommittee today, Interim Commissioner Keith Reed said the agency has been working with a consulting group for the past year on “reimagining vision, mission and values.” [Public Radio Tulsa

  • Partnership brings more medical services to north Tulsa [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem introduces bill to pave the way for school board recall elections: A bill introduced by Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat would allow communities to organize recall petitions of school board members. Senate Bill 1582 would allow people to recall school board members with signatures from 10% of residents living in a district who voted in the previous election. [KGOU

Oklahoma Republicans and Democrats push to end grocery tax: The Oklahoma legislative session kicks off in less than a month and both Republicans and Democrats submitted bills seeking to end the grocery sales tax. State Representative Melissa Provenzano, D-District 77, said if the bill gets emergency approval, we could see grocery bills go down by this summer. Rep. Roberts, R-District 36, said in a press release, “We currently have a surplus in funds and revenues are up, so now is the time to bring this much-needed relief to Oklahoma families.” [KTUL

Former Oklahoma state senate leader will get his law license reinstated: A former Oklahoma state lawmaker who was convicted in 2012 for taking a $12,000 bribe in exchange for his influence on legislation will get his law license reinstated. [KOSU]

Tribal Nations News

Cherokee Nation announces new $1M film incentive in Oklahoma: From editing and acting to piloting a drone and setting up cameras, Ryker Sixkiller has found multiple roles to play in the Oklahoma film industry. Now, his tribe is expanding its investment in the industry, with the Cherokee Nation Film Office unveiling plans for a new incentive program offering up to $1 million in annual funding for productions filmed within the Cherokee Nation in northeastern Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman

  • Tulsa earns praise as one of top 2022 places for moviemakers [Tulsa World

Voting and Election News

OKC mayoral debate features policy talk, criticism of ‘No Show Holt’: Three of the four candidates for Oklahoma City mayor took to the debate stage at The Auditorium at The Douglass tonight covering a variety of topics ranging from potholes to policing and municipal services to MAPS 4. [NonDoc] Jimmy Lawson, Carol Hefner, and Frank Urbanic each participated in an hour-long event that mostly involved candidates taking turns answering questions instead of debating. [OKC Free Press] However, with [incumbent] Holt’s only onstage presence being his photograph sitting on an empty podium, mayoral hopefuls took turns expressing frustration with his absence. [The Oklahoman

Criminal Justice News

Appeals court paves the way for 2 more Oklahoma executions: A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver denied the inmates’ motion in a ruling on Monday. The decision paves the way for the state to carry out the executions of Donald Grant, 46, on Thursday and Gilbert Postelle, 35, on Feb. 17. [AP News]

Education News

(Audio) Listen Frontier: Oklahoma’s ‘Guest Educator’ program: In 2020, former McAlester Public Schools teacher Ryan Walters was appointed as the youngest Secretary of Education in Oklahoma’s history. Earlier this month, with schools ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and the highly infectious omicron variant, Gov, Kevin Stitt announced the Guest Educator Program. [The Frontier

Oklahoma public school students weigh in on third year of pandemic learning, other school issues: As the tug-of-war over pandemic-related school closures, safety mandates and emergency funding use continues among lawmakers, parents, school boards, superintendents and even courts of law, a group of Oklahoma high school students weighed in on Tuesday. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • ‘Focus: Black Oklahoma’: critical race theory, anti-segregation, health and wellness [KOSU
  • Oklahoma students talk about learning Tulsa Race Massacre, Black Wall Street history in schools [Tulsa World

Quote of the Day

Oklahoma’s budget discussions focus on “What can we afford?” when they should focus on “What should we do?”

– From OK Policy’s new “Focus on Transparency” report that shows Oklahoma is among the least transparent states for state budget process [OK Policy]

OK Policy Report: Focus on Transparency is a new report from the Oklahoma Policy Institute shows that Oklahoma is among the nation’s least transparent states when engaging its residents during the development of the annual state budget. 

Number of the Day


Percentage of family income that sales and excise taxes represent for the lowest 20% of Oklahoma families. By comparison, Oklahoma families with income in the 80th to 95th percentile (average annual income of $127,900) pay about 3.6% of their family income towards sales and excise taxes.

[Source: ITEP]

Policy Note

How do state and local sales taxes work?: Forty-five states and the District of Columbia levy general sales taxes that apply (with some exemptions) to all goods and certain services. Thirty-seven states (including, Alaska, which has no state tax) also allow general sales taxes at the local level. Most states apply separate sales taxes to particular goods, including tobacco, alcohol, and motor fuels. [Tax Policy Center]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.