In The Know: Oklahoma graded ‘F’ for government transparency

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.

Today In The News

Oklahoma Graded as ‘F’ in National Study of Government Transparency: Oklahoma often pays lip service to the principle of accountability for its public officials and that’s one important reason the state gets a failing grade and ranks 40th in the State Integrity Investigation, a study of transparency and accountability by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity [Oklahoma Watch].

All Oklahoma state revenue streams lower than projected: For a sixth consecutive month, Gross Receipts to the Treasury are lower than the same month of the prior year as every major revenue stream shows contraction in October, State Treasurer Ken Miller announced today. Twelve-month Gross Receipts to the Treasury also reflect an economic pullback as collection totals are the lowest in 16 months [CapitolBeatOK].

Is SandRidge close to crumbling?: SandRidge Energy Inc.’s most important assets are at the epicenter of Oklahoma’s ongoing earthquake problem. The driller’s precarious financial position, combined with the risk it faces from temblor swarms near its wastewater injection wells, could cause the company to become insolvent if regulators shut down its disposal wells. Forty percent of SandRidge’s wells are within a 9-mile radius in Alfalfa county, near hundreds of earthquakes in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas in the Mississippi Lime formation [The Journal Record].

What’s really behind Oklahoma’s rising Medicaid costs: A meeting of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee last week examined why Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentages (FMAP) funds are going down in Oklahoma while at the same time those enrolled in Medicaid are increasing or remaining the same. The rationale of the federal Medicaid matching formula is that if incomes in a state are going up fewer people in the state should need Medicaid. But in Oklahoma the increase in income is not finding its way down to the people who must rely on Medicaid to cover their medical expenses [OK Policy].

Oklahoma hospital fights Blue Cross over insurance contract: Jan Winter Clark stood before a group of lawmakers, asking an unanticipated question. “Who will hold Blue Cross and Blue Shield accountable?” the hospital executive asked. Clark, Bristow Medical Center’s CEO, was speaking Wednesday at a legislative hearing on rural health care when she brought up the battle that she has been in with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, the state’s largest insurer [NewsOK].

OSU gets big data to study rural health care: Oklahoma State University is working to uncover new rural health care solutions by mining the nation’s largest private medical database. The OSU Center for Health Systems Innovation, a venture by OSU’s Spears School of Business in Stillwater and its Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, has a dozen or more research projects underway using a multi-terabyte database donated by Kansas City, Missouri-based Cerner Corp [The Journal Record].

Oklahoma Capitol’s building management catches criticism: After contractors complete the biggest repair and refurbishment project in the history of the state Capitol, the man in charge of the work does not want it compromised through the kind of disjointed building management that has prevailed over the years. More than 20 entities, including the House, the Senate and the executive branch, have some say over changes to work spaces in Oklahoma’s signature building. The result has been a hodgepodge of mismatched interior improvements [NewsOK].

Sen. Kyle Loveless: Asset forfeiture reform returns justice to innocent people whose property has been seized: Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from his cell in a Birmingham jail that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere … whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly”. Civil asset forfeiture laws allow the government, state and local, to seize your property and eventually permanently own it. Many times charges are never even brought against the property owner [Sen. Kyle Loveless / Tulsa World]. A coalition of unlikely allies (including OK Policy) is advocating to reform Oklahoma’s civil asset forfeiture laws [OK Policy].

Fired Tulsa bus drivers sue in federal court, alleging race discrimination: Six former Tulsa Transit bus drivers filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Northern District Court accusing the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority and three executives of violating their civil rights. Three of the drivers — Kenneth Speed, 59; Lawrence Morgan, 56; and Justin Copeland, 63 — were arrested in November last year and charged with single counts of embezzlement. In April, Special Judge Cliff Smith dropped the charges, citing a lack of evidence of criminal intent [Tulsa World]. Disclosure: The bus drivers are being represented in court by Damario Solomon-Simmons, who also works as OK Policy’s legislative liaison.

ACLU & OCPA advocacy groups launch journalism efforts: Two prominent political advocacy organizations have created news arms in Oklahoma, hiring experienced journalists to tell stories they believe the mainstream media miss. While the ACLU of Oklahoma stands on the political left and the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs stands on the political right, the public should read their “reporting” with caution, according to an OSU journalism professor [NonDoc].

Lottery support for education overwhelmed by tax cuts: As a new effort gears up to boost support for schools through a dedicated 1-cent sales tax, many Oklahomans are asking: Why hasn’t the lottery already fixed our education funding problems? The short answer is that the lottery has grown state revenue by inches, while lawmakers have been pruning off yards [David Blatt / The Journal Record].

George Tiger ousted as Creek Nation chief: As of 9:25 p.m. Saturday, with all precincts reporting, James Floyd led Principal Chief George Tiger, 2,964 votes, or 62 percent, to 1,820 votes, or 38 percent. The former director of the Veterans Administration’s Jack C. Montgomery Medical Center in Muskogee and Ernest Childers Clinic in Broken Arrow, Floyd started his professional career with the tribe in the early 1980s as its director of community services before accepting positions with Indian Health Services and the VA in Oregon, Utah and Kansas City [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“The effect is that the press and public don’t know how and why their leaders are making these decisions until well after the decision is already made, and the consequences are already realized.”

-Joe Wertz, a reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma, speaking about how Oklahomans often wait longer than six months for routine open records requests to be filled by the governor and Attorney General’s office (Source).

Number of the Day


Acres of irrigated farmland in Oklahoma in 2012, down from 534,768 acres in 2007.

Source: USDA

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax policies are causing the sun to sink on Kansas’ future: As he ran for re-election last year, Gov. Sam Brownback brushed aside critics of his fiscal policies and proclaimed “the sun is shining in Kansas.” On Friday, the latest full eclipse of that sun occurred when state officials slashed revenue projections by a total of $350 million over the next two years and cut $120 million in spending this year. They conceded that the state budget is running on fumes [Kansas City Star].

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


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

Leave a Reply

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