In The Know: Penny hike would give Oklahoma highest sales taxes in nation

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

Penny hike would give Oklahoma highest sales taxes in nation: A proposed penny sales tax increase for education would push Oklahoma to the top of list of states with the highest combined state and local sales taxes, according to data from a national research group. It also would elevate Tulsa and Oklahoma City to No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, among major cities with the highest combined sales taxes, trailing only Chicago and Seattle, the Tax Foundation said [Oklahoma Watch].

Google explores bringing super-high speed internet to Oklahoma City: Gov. Mary Fallin and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said Wednesday Google Fiber is exploring a venture that could deliver cable and Internet speeds up to 85 times faster than in most American cities. Beginning this week, Google will work with Oklahoma City leaders on a plan to explore what it would take to build a new fiber-optic network capable of delivering gigabit speeds throughout the area [Associated Press].

Gov. Fallin urges sale of surplus property: In a third executive order tied to sagging state revenue, Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday directed state agencies to sell underutilized land and buildings. Money from these sales could help with building maintenance expenses and could help shore up the budget. State revenues have been running below projections. This year, the state faced a budget shortfall of more than $600 million, and a hole at least that big is expected next year [NewsOK].

Considering consolidation: Losing a school: At statehood, there were more than two thousand school districts scattered across the state. Today that number is a little more than 500 and it could shrink more as more schools find it difficult to make ends meet. But when it comes to combining school districts, it is not just school buildings that can become abandoned. “It hurt,” Francis Shelton said about the school closing down in Boley [Fox 25].

Another school meals success story: Late this summer, we shared information about new mechanism allowing some high-poverty schools to offer breakfast and lunch at no charge for all students. Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP, is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It was successfully piloted in 11 states before opening nationwide for the 2014-15 school year. Oklahoma’s uptake for the first year was relatively low – just 12 percent of eligible schools participated, versus 42 percent nationwide. However, there’s reason to believe that participation may be trending upward [OK Policy].

Oklahoma City school officer allegedly punches student in face: A student resource officer, working at U.S. Grant High School, admited in a police report that he hit a student after feeling threatened. The officer has been placed on restrictive leave, meaning he is working out of an office at the police department. Police are not releasing the officer’s name, because he has not been charged with a crime [KFOR].

State’s A-F grading system does not add up: In my role leading the business case for education at the Tulsa Regional Chamber, I view the quality of our public education system as the utmost importance to attracting business and ensuring a highly-educated workforce — not to mention the overall quality of life and future prosperity of our region. So, how is our investment performing? If one only reads a few articles, blogposts or tweets about our schools in the wake of the A-F report cards, it regrettably might lead to a loss of confidence in our schools [Brian Paschal / Tulsa World].

State Senator makes case for mandatory vaccinations: In 2000, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that measles had been eradicated in the United States. The CDC made a similar claim about pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in the 1970s. Despite the successes of modern medicine, both of these preventable diseases are again on the rise in the United States. Part of the reason is the increase in exemptions from laws mandating vaccinations for children before they begin school [Ervin Yen / NewsOK].

Stop flying blind: Oklahoma is stuck in a severe budget crisis that has lasted through good times and bad. Year after year, we make short-term decisions, like approving tax cuts that take years to go into full effect and using one-time revenues to balance the budget, without a clear sense of what they will mean for our longer-term outlook. Rather than flying blind, Oklahoma can do a much better job of navigating a sustainable long-term course by adopting some well-established budget tools [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Quote of the Day

“The A-F model does not help students learn, teachers teach or aid parents in evaluating their child’s education in a constructive manner. To put it in simple business terms, the current A-F grading system is exacting a hefty price to our schools’ bottom line. It is costly to teacher morale, district focus and the state’s limited resources. That is a price we cannot afford.”

-Brian Paschal, Senior Vice President for Workforce and Education with the Tulsa Regional Chamber, writing about flaws in Oklahoma’s grading system for schools and school districts (Source)

Number of the Day


Oklahoma 4th graders’ NAEP reading scores in 2015, up from 217.0 in 2013. The score ranks Oklahoma 32nd in the nation out of all 50 fifty states, Washington DC, and Department of Defense schools.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Indian tribes look beyond casinos for income: As denoted on a historical marker across the street, this is the vicinity where, 175 years ago, the United States government rounded up Mon-ee Zapata’s ancestors, the Potawatomi Indians, and forced them on a deadly walk to inhospitable Kansas. But it is also a place where her tribal elders plan to build a manufacturing operation of some sort as a way to ensure their long-term economic stability beyond the revenue from the six-year-old FireKeepers Casino [New York Times].

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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.

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