[In The Know] Oklahoma still lags nation for child well-being | State sues over management of COVID relief program | Are red states bad for business?

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.

New from OK Policy

2022 KIDS COUNT Report Shows Oklahoma Ranks 40th for Child Well-Being, Still Lags Nation: Oklahoma ranks 40th nationally in child well-being and in the bottom half of nearly all the health and well-being metrics included in state rankings for the 2022 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report of recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzing how children and families are faring. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

State Sues Florida Company Over Management of Federal COVID Relief Program For Students: The state of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to recoup money from a contractor it hired to distribute emergency federal education funds during the COVID-19 pandemic. [Oklahoma Watch]

Are red states like Oklahoma bad for business? California thinks so: States have long competed with each other for business, often dangling out tax breaks and other financial incentives. But now states are using political ideology as a way to bring in new industries. [The Oklahoman]

  • A new $15 million business accelerator program, while much more modest than the nearly $700 million the state recently offered Panasonic, seeks to help launch a successful company, using a combination of public and private funds to boost the state’s startup culture. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Ousted Oklahoma veterans commissioners sue Gov. Kevin Stitt over removal: Two former members of the Oklahoma Veterans Commission are suing Gov. Kevin Stitt, alleging he removed them from their posts because they backed one of his opponents in the June GOP primary election. [The Oklahoman] Larry Wayne Van Schuyver, former Veteran’s Commission chairman and a retired Navy command master chief, and Paul D. Costilow, former vice chairman and a retired Army brigadier general who served in Vietnam, allege that Stitt removed them from the Oklahoma Veterans Commission for supporting Joel Kintsel in his bid to unseat the governor. They were notified of their removal two days after Stitt defeated Kintsel in the primary. [Tulsa World]

State Contractor Verifying Petitions for Recreational Marijuana Initiative: Oklahoma is paying a company associated with a political polling firm $300,000 per year to verify signatures for statewide ballot initiatives, leading some to question the fairness of the process by which Oklahomans can vote directly on state issues. [Oklahoma Watch] | [The Frontier]

Inflation relief talks resume at the state capitol, possible agreement expected soon: After more than two months of little-to-no action by state lawmakers, a breakthrough might be on the horizon. The Governor’s office told FOX 25 that an agreement is on the way. [Fox 25]

Federal Government News

Inhofe, Lankford vote against economic package: Oklahoma’s U.S. senators on Sunday both voted against a Democratic-led $740 billion economic package and issued scathing statements about the measure. [Tulsa World]

Voting and Election News

Lankford is blocking progress, say Democrats vying to face him: When speaking about the issue of immigration, Democratic Senate candidates Jason Bollinger and Madison Horn don’t try to hide their scorn for Republican U.S. Sen. James Lankford’s frequent trips to the southern border. [The Oklahoman]

Challenging Sen. Darcy Jech, Brady Butler sees ‘no place’ for separation of church and state: Less than a month after celebrated former Kingfisher Sen. Mike Johnson died, Senate District 26 voters will cast ballots in a GOP runoff that pits incumbent Sen. Darcy Jech against a self-claimed “paradigm shifting” candidate named Brady Butler who opposes the separation of church and state. [NonDoc]

  • Brady Butler wants to be a state senator but he has little interest in budgets, classroom funding, infrastructure or any of the other “kitchen table” issues that usually appeal to voters. [The Oklahoman]

Rogers County state Senate runoff attracting attention: Four Republican state Senate runoffs will be held Aug. 23. It’s doubtful any will be watched more closely than Senate District 2, which in its new configuration encompasses southern Rogers County, including Claremore and Catoosa, and most of Collinsville in extreme northeast Tulsa County. The race figured to be an interesting one in any event, but the history and social media postings of primary leader Jarrin Jackson have made it more so. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Monkeypox is now a national emergency. What to know about vaccines in Oklahoma: The Oklahoma Health Department hopes to be able to offer monkeypox vaccines to people in high-risk groups who want protection against the virus at some point in the future, a spokeswoman said this week. But for now, that’s not the case. Vaccines aren’t widely accessible and remain in short supply in the state. [The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

Former ODOC director: Don’t kill James Coddington: Former Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Justin Jones says the state should not kill a death row inmate scheduled for execution in less than a month. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Latest Oklahoma County jail lawsuit again alleges use of excessive force, this time against a naked female: The Oklahoma County jail trust and county commissioners are being blamed in a new jail lawsuit for injuries to an inmate during a confrontation with a detention officer two years ago. [The Oklahoman]

Economic Opportunity

Edmond faces ‘affordable housing crisis’ with more obstacles than answers: With apartment complexes nearing maximum occupancy and Edmond’s largest employers struggling to fill vacant staff positions, members of the Edmond City Council believe the city is facing a housing shortage. [NonDoc]

How this OKC program giving a day’s work for panhandlers is making a difference: The Oklahoma City-funded “A Better Way” program, which in its first 10 months has provided a day’s work to more than 700 people and secured employment for 25, was given the go-ahead to continue for another year by the Oklahoma City Council this week. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Record emergency certifications are being issued as Oklahoma faces teacher shortage: Signs are pointing to an escalated teacher shortage in Oklahoma as the state set a record for emergency certifications while scores of classroom jobs remain unfilled days before many students’ first day of school. [The Oklahoman]

Column: Funding public education doesn’t need to be political: The start of a new school year is here. It may be a few weeks for some, but is just days away for Oklahoma City Public Schools. We haven’t seen much positive news around education in our state in the past months, and so much of it is politicized and divisive. [Mary Mélon-Tully Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Editorial: Private school vouchers still a bad idea for Oklahoma: No one is surprised to hear that Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat plans to bring back private school voucher legislation next session. This time, it’s possible it would apply only to metro areas, according to reporter Barbara Hoberock. That doesn’t fix the inherent problems of the legislation. It’s still a bad idea. Rural lawmakers would be wise to remember that every dollar given to a metro private school is one fewer dollar for their schools. Also, state policies meant for urban schools eventually make their way to rural areas. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Oklahoma continues to lag behind states that are making meaningful investments in the health, education, and overall well-being of their children. The net result is that far too many children in our communities live in poverty, have unhealthy lives, and are behind the educational outcomes of their peers in other parts of the country.”

-Gabrielle Jacobi, OK Policy’s Child Well-Being Policy Analyst and KIDS COUNT Coordinator [OK Policy]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma children who live in poverty. The national average is 17%. [KIDS COUNT

Policy Note

2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book: State Trends in Child Well-being: The 33rd edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT® Data Book describes how children in America are in the midst of a mental health crisis, struggling with anxiety and depression at unprecedented levels. This year’s publication continues to present national and state data across four domains — economic well-being, family and community, education and health — and ranks states in overall child well-being. The report includes pre-pandemic figures as well as more recent statistics, and shares the latest information of its kind available. [KIDS COUNT / Annie E. Casey Foundation]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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