In The Know: Education deal: School funding, teacher pay and private school tax credits | New law should reduce cost-related warrants | Capitol Update | More

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

Past economic development efforts should inform decision making (Capitol Update): The Senate Economic Development Select Committee met last week and heard about two models of economic development efforts: A traditional model that relies on a state agency and a hybrid model that uses a public-private entity. As the committee’s work continues, lawmakers should examine a previous public-private effort (“Oklahoma Futures”) and learn why it failed to live up to expectations and was later repealed. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma Legislature reaches deal on school funding, teacher pay and tax credits: Negotiations on public school funding and private education tax credits that have consumed the Oklahoma Legislature for months have finally ended in a deal. Lawmakers agreed to pour $625 million into public education. The package funnels an extra $500 million into the education funding formula, the state’s chief driver of public school support, and $125 million for Redbud grants, which aid school facilities. [The Oklahoman]

  • ‘Contentious and clunky’ education funding stalemate ends with $785 million package [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • $625 million ‘monumental education package’: Oklahoma officials celebrate long-awaited agreement [Tulsa World]
  • ‘Historic education reform agreement’ announced in Oklahoma [KFOR Oklahoma City]
  • Oklahoma lawmakers agree on $625m education package [KRMG]
  • Education deal: Teacher pay, maternity leave and formula tweaks to unlock tax credit bill [NonDoc]
  • Legislators announce ‘historic’ $785M education investment [CNHI News]

State Government News

Oklahoma Passes Bill to Reduce Court Fines and Incarceration Rates: A bill that seeks to alleviate the burden of court fines, fees, and incarceration on Oklahomans has been approved by Governor Kevin Stitt, according to the Oklahoma Legislature. House Bill 2259 aims to address the financial struggles faced by many individuals who are forced to choose between basic necessities and paying court-related expenses. The legislation is part of a broader effort by advocates to reform the state’s criminal justice system and reduce the number of individuals incarcerated for nonpayment of fines, Katie Arata reports for FOX 25. [Crime Report]

  • Bill looking to reduce criminal court fines, fees, & incarceration rates heads to Governor [KTUL]

Governor gets $218.6 million incentive package for solar panel manufacturing facility bid: The Oklahoma House and Senate passed and sent to the governor on Monday a three-piece, $218.6 million incentive package believed to be for a solar panel manufacturing facility at the Tulsa Port of Inola. Also sent to the governor was a $10.8 million supplemental appropriation to continue work on a new veterans home at Sallisaw. [Tulsa World]

Transgender Oklahomans speak out against new law: ‘Only the beginning’: Transgender Oklahomans and their allies visited the state Capitol on Monday to find a sense of community and share their feelings after Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a ban on gender-affirming care for minors. Because public testimony is not allowed in legislative hearings, two LGBTQ-rights groups held a “People’s Hearing” to give a voice to residents who had limited opportunities to speak out against the new law as it advanced through the Oklahoma Legislature. [Tulsa World]

Column: ‘Choice and competition’ threaten state’s low-cost energy relied upon by Oklahomans: Even as the current legislative session winds down, a small interest group continues to misinform Oklahomans, lobbying for deregulating the retail energy market. As a former chair of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, I was charged with regulating utility providers, and I implore our state leaders to critically review such misleading proposals for “choice and competition,” which inherently threaten the state’s low-cost energy relied upon by Oklahoma families and businesses alike. [Jeff Cloud Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Criminal Justice News

DOC Whistleblower Was Fired After Reporting Sexual Abuse, Coverups: Whitney Louis built a 15-year career as a psychologist helping incarcerated people learn how to transition back into society. She expected to do the same when hired at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility, a women’s minimum security prison in Taft, Oklahoma. Instead, she was thrown into the middle of what she alleges were sexual assault coverups. [Oklahoma Watch]

Commissioner: New jail to be ‘night and day’ improvement from current jail’s problems: Brian Maughan, District 2 commissioner for Oklahoma County, had a message Monday for those seeking answers to the mounting deaths at the Oklahoma County jail. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: Facts matter. The Glossip case shows us why: Finality is an important principle in our criminal justice system. Elevating finality above all else, though, can prove dangerous and undermine justice in rare cases ― cases like Richard Glossip’s, where it is revealed years later that evidence was withheld by the state. [Andrew M. Coats Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Economy & Business News

Study ranks Oklahoma region worst for employee benefits: A new study on employee benefits suggests that businesses in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas may have some catching up to do if they want to be as attractive to potential employees as counterparts in other parts of the country. [Journal Record]

Fed reports slight contraction in regional economy: The economy contracted slightly during the first quarter of 2023 in heartland states of the 10th District of the U.S. Federal Reserve, which includes Oklahoma. According to recent reporting by the Fed’s regional bank headquarters in Kansas City, despite the slowdown, driven in part by a softening of activity in the energy sector, labor markets remained tight overall. The district’s unemployment rate through the quarter hovered at about 2.8%, as compared to a 3.5% rate reported nationwide during the period. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma pipeline company ONEOK will acquire Magellan Midstream Partners in $18.8 billion deal: Two major energy infrastructure companies in Tulsa are about to become one. ONEOK primarily deals with natural gas pipelines, while Magellan Midstream Partners mostly works with crude oil transportation. The newly combined company will do both. The $18.8 billion dollar deal will result in an enterprise worth roughly $60 billion. [KOSU]

Developer withdraws plans for Route 66 mixed-use project near old 11th Street Bridge: The city of Tulsa’s second attempt to develop a Route 66-themed attraction on the east side of the old 11th Street Bridge came to an end Friday when Sharp Development informed the city that it was withdrawing its proposal. It has been a year since the city selected the local developer to construct a mixed-use project on two acres of city-owned land across the street from Cyrus Avery Centennial Plaza at the intersection of Southwest Boulevard and Riverside Drive. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“What I do know is that as long as vouchers are tied to this historic investment, it really undercuts what we’re able to accomplish in education.”

– Sen. Carri Hicks, D-OKC, on private school tax vouchers that have been tied to investments in schools and teachers in spite of concerns about transparency, misuse of taxpayer funds and administration of the program. Hicks added that while she believes in parents being able to choose where to educate their children, 95% have chosen their local public schools. [CNHI News]

Number of the Day

~ $93

If Oklahoma lawmakers reduce the personal income tax by .25%, middle-income Oklahomans would get back about $93 while the top 1% would get back $2,381. [ITEP analysis via OK Policy]

Policy Note

The Wisconsin public schools story: A cautionary tale: Idaho is one of the states considering using public dollars to offset parents’ costs for a private school education. One state to study is Wisconsin, the first state to pass modern taxpayer-supported subsidies for private and religious schools. One of the startling consequences of privatizing education that sometimes gets lost: Local property taxpayers in Wisconsin have essentially made up a $211.5 million loss of state funding by raising property taxes to keep their public schools operating. [Idaho Capital Sun]

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


Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

Leave a Reply

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