In The Know: Rural hospitals support Medicaid expansion; record-breaking measles numbers; Oklahoma named U.S. Poet Laureate…

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.

New from OK Policy

Federal funding increases are making quality child care more affordable for Oklahoma families: A new report from Oklahoma Policy Institute finds that new federal grant funding is making affordable child care a reality for more Oklahomans. In fiscal year 2019, Oklahoma’s child care subsidy program operated by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) received a $32 million increase in federal funding, which represents a 36 percent increase from the previous year. [OK Policy] To learn more, you can read the full report or our press release.

Prosperity Policy: Crumbling oversight of DHS: Earlier this month, Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed Justin Brown to lead the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the state’s largest agency. With over 7,000 employees and an annual $2.5 billion budget, DHS has critical responsibilities for supporting and protecting 1 million of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens each year, including children suffering abuse and neglect, low-income seniors, and individuals with developmental disabilities. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

Rural hospital network throws support behind Medicaid expansion: A coalition of Oklahoma healthcare professionals and organizations announced last week that it was launching an initiative to let voters decide whether to bring Medicaid expansion to Oklahoma. The group, which is operating under the name Oklahomans Decide Healthcare, says it wants voters to have a direct say on accepting federal money to expand eligibility for Medicaid to an estimated 200,000 Oklahomans, something the Oklahoma legislature has not gotten done. [CHNI]

Foster parent describes caring for babies addicted to opioids: Tonya Ratcliff said she and her husband, Travis, felt called years ago to accept a newborn foster baby into their home temporarily after the child’s mother overdosed on opioids. The love the couple very quickly discovered led them to offer room in their hearts and home many more times in years since. Ratcliff said they’ve cared for a couple of dozen foster children, many on a permanent basis and a number afflicted by neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome, also called neonatal abstinence syndrome. [Journal Record]

Fishing for tourism dollars: State to invest up to $500,000 to market trails: Anglers visiting Oklahoma’s lakes and rivers already spend about $1.8 billion on fishing equipment annually and support more than 15,000 jobs across the state, said Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell. But Oklahoma could be reeling in more fishing dollars, he said Wednesday. [Journal Record ????]

OSSAA: Rule on public/private school athletic competition may receive tweaking: A rule designed to close the competitive gap between Oklahoma private and public high schools could be in for tweaking in the coming months. The committee formed to study the issue will report to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association’s board of directors in its Aug. 7 meeting, OSSAA director David Jackson confirmed Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Site says these are the best cities to live in Oklahoma: The website Chamber of Commerce has ranked the best cities to live in Oklahoma. And there’s just no competing apparently with the suburbs and the medium-size towns. They took all the top spots. Enid, Broken Arrow, and Bixby were the top three. [KRMG]

EMSA rates to hold steady: Next week, the Emergency Medical Services Authority board is slated to approve next year’s operating budget.  The ambulance service’s Financial Officer is Lora Conger. She says the service’s rate will not increase under the proposed budget. In fact, no increase is planned through FY 2022. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Once-eradicated measles back in record-breaking numbers: Measles broke a 25-year record in the U.S. in the first five months of 2019, surpassing the 963 cases confirmed in 1994. And the number continues to grow. As of June 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,044 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 28 states, an increase of 22 cases from the previous week. [The Oklahoman]

Board of Juvenile Affairs approves changes to next-generation campus plans: The Board of Juvenile Affairs voted Wednesday to approve modifications to plans for a “next-generation campus” for juvenile offenders. Oklahoma has operated three secure facilities for juvenile offenders in recent years, but plans to consolidate those operations in the refurbished Tecumseh campus. [The Oklahoman]

Muskogee Phoenix Editorial Board: State should prioritize children: Oklahoma ranks among America’s bottom 10 states when it comes to the well-being of its most vulnerable residents — the children who live here — an intolerable statistic to be sure. The 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book is considered the most comprehensive annual report of the well-being America’s children uses 16 indicators to rank states across four domains. [Editorial Board / Muskogee Phoenix]

Teachers across Tulsa Public Schools gather for training to address trauma in the classroom: Connected Kids is working with the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association to show educators what trauma looks like, and how to address it. “Children in Oklahoma have some of the highest adversity scores in the nation. I look at that as a great opportunity here in Tulsa because if we can do it in Tulsa we can do it anywhere else,” CEO Barbara Sorrels said. [KJRH]

‘What I wonder is the level of urgency’: Tulsans express frustrations, share stories about policing with council: Alexander was among about 20 people who were allotted time to speak to the council Wednesday night. Most of them focused on two items: the new city budget, which features $250,000 for an Office of the Independent Monitor, and the Equality Indicators reports. [Tulsa World] Mayor G.T. Bynum continues to lean toward having an Office of the Independent Monitor — not an outside entity — conduct reviews of police use-of-force incidents as part of his proposed police oversight program, he said Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa City Council unanimously approves $846 million budget: The Tulsa City Council unanimously approved Mayor G.T. Bynum’s proposed $846 million fiscal year 2020 budget Wednesday. The budget includes increases in employee compensation, cash reserves and funding for new police officers. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma City to kick off penalty reduction program to reduce overdue fines: A new program to reduce fines for outstanding low-level offenses was approved unanimously by Oklahoma City Council this week. “It brings revenue in the door and it reduces administrative time and trouble dealing with 116,000 fines,” Ward 8 Council Member Mark Stonecipher said. [KFOR]

Holt ‘excited’ about upcoming MAPS 4 planning meetings: Before plans are finalized, before the public votes and before the first shovel of dirt is moved, Oklahoma City officials will gather this summer for a series of public discussions to shape what MAPS 4 will look like. Approved Tuesday at OKC’s City Council meeting, the four community discussions will feature ideas ranging from a new multi-purpose stadium to expanded transportation infrastructure. [NonDoc]

Inhofe vows housing contractor crackdown in defense bill: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe vowed Wednesday that a $750 billion defense bill he coauthored would hold private companies accountable for fixing serious problems in military base housing. In a speech on the Senate floor, Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said the bill takes several steps to increase oversight of companies that got “a little bit greedy” while managing housing on the nation’s military installations. [The Oklahoman]

1921 Tulsa Race Massacre used as argument for slavery reparations during House congressional hearing: Speaking in front of congressional lawmakers on Wednesday, a law professor asserted that the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and its lasting impact should be used as a catalyst in support of reparations for slavery. [Tulsa World]

Cherokee Nation tribal high court turns down petition to nullify election results: A petition to the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court to invalidate the results of the principal chief and deputy chief race was dismissed Wednesday. Dick Lay, principal chief candidate from the June 1 election, and deputy chief candidate Meredith Frailey, both filed separate petitions alleging that Principal Chief-Elect Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief-Elect Bryan Warner violated election laws. [Muskogee Phoenix]

Joy Harjo becomes first Oklahoman and first Native American named U.S. Poet Laureate: Poet, writer and musician Joy Harjo is the first Oklahoman and first Native American to be named the U.S. Poet Laureate. Harjo is a native and resident of Tulsa and a member of the Muskogee Creek Nation. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“I’ve seen many of you on Facebook posting about your kids, their accomplishments, how proud you are to be their parents. Until you see their face when you look at these numbers; until you see your child being treated suspiciously; until you see your child being deemed dangerous to the point of the use of force simply as a result of expressing common human emotions and frustrations, you do not feel this urgently enough.”

-Tyrance Billingsley, speaking to the Tulsa City Council about the city’s large racial disparities in juvenile arrests [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage reduction in Oklahoma state higher education spending per full-time-equivalent student after inflation, fiscal year 2008-2018. Only Alabama, Louisiana, and Arizona have cut spending more than Oklahoma.

[Source: Pew Charitable Trusts]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

20 years of government data says raising the minimum wage could be good for workers, businesses, and the economy: The findings provide compelling evidence that raising the minimum wage benefits a large majority of low-income workers by putting them on a path to higher earnings in the long term, and that in turn decreases inequality and leads to a healthier economy. [Business Insider]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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