In The Know: Schools band together against charter school funding proposal | HB2041 is costly, poorly targeted tax cut | 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

We have better options than a costly and poorly targeted income tax cut: Now that the state’s economy and budget outlook are improving, lawmakers are considering a substantial state tax cut. House Bill 2041 — by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and others, and Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville — would reduce the state’s individual income tax starting in tax year 2022 (for returns due in April 2023). While this bill provides long-needed refunds to some low-income taxpayers, more than half of tax cuts would go to higher income Oklahomans who can afford to pay the current rate. Along with HB 2083, which would eliminate the state corporate income tax, state revenue could be reduced by 7.5 percent. This would shrink our economy and speed up the reduction of public services that has continued throughout this century. [Paul Shinn / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma public school districts band together to fight charter school funding equalization: Backlash is mounting toward a resolution passed by Oklahoma’s State Board of Education to equalize funding for charter and traditional public schools. More than 100 superintendents and school boards around the state are concerned about a recent move by Oklahoma’s State Board of Education to equalize funding of charter and traditional public schools. Additionally, state lawmakers are exploring a measure to nullify the state board’s decision that would also provide some other funding for brick and mortar charter schools. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Cherokee Nation AG: Congress must allow state-tribe compacts: The U.S. Congress must take action to allow American Indian tribes to compact with state governments to prosecute crimes in Indian Country, Cherokee Nation Attorney General Sara Hill said Tuesday. [AP News] The Cherokee Nation has been working hard to refile cases dismissed in state court due to the McGirt Supreme Court decision, Hill said Tuesday, and she called upon Congress to pass legislation aimed at resolving issues caused by the landmark ruling. [Tulsa World] Speaking to reporters, Hill said the tribe will need financial aid to expand its criminal justice system, but also needs federal legislation allowing more flexibility in how cases are prosecuted. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma will see a jump in COVID-19 cases and deaths reported Wednesday — here’s why: Oklahoma will see a jump in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths reported Wednesday, the state Health Department warned. Both figures will look artificially high in Wednesday’s batch of weekly data, but for different reasons. The state said it will add over 1,000 coronavirus cases to the state’s total, most of which were confirmed from December through February but had gone unreported because of a technical error by a lab. A few of those cases dated back to August. And approximately 1,800 deaths will be added to Oklahoma’s investigated COVID-19 death toll on Wednesday as the state works to bring its count closer into alignment with one from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, which puts the state’s provisional death count at 7,951 as of Tuesday. [The Oklahoman]

With supply outpacing demand, ‘vaccine complacency’ may be Oklahoma’s next hurdle: Vaccine supply in Oklahoma has outpaced demand for the shots, which means it’s now far easier to get vaccinated than it was weeks ago. With COVID-19 vaccination appointments going unfilled in recent weeks, state health officials are trying to impart a sense of urgency and emphasize that the vaccines are a chance to get ahead of the virus as it swells in other parts of the country. [The Oklahoman]

  • Doctor’s office immunizations key to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, inequity as appointments go unclaimed [Tulsa World]

State Government News

Oklahoma tax collections rise, led by oil and gas revenue: Oklahoma collected $1.1 billion in total taxes during March, surpassing March 2020 collections by $35.1 million, an increase of 3.2%, state Treasurer Randy McDaniel said Tuesday. The year-over-year increase is just the second time in the past year that monthly collections topped the prior year’s total, and total collections for the past 12 months remain down, McDaniel said. [AP News] Oil and gas tax revenue for the month was $90 million, a 15% increase over the previous March. Oil and gas tax revenue is generally a small share of overall revenue but is seen as a leading indicator of economic activity. [Tulsa World]

Republican state senator revives bill modeled on Trump executive order against bias training: Oklahoma Republican lawmakers again resurrect a controversial bill that appeared done for the session. Sen. David Bullard (R-Durant) in committee on Tuesday amended a House bill on emergency plans for athletics events to bring back a Senate bill to ban the teaching of “divisive concepts,” a push back against analyzing issues like systemic racism. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Trucking regulation changes could lead to layoffs, increased taxpayer costs: A decade-long quest to wrest the enforcement authority of some commercial trucking regulations from the hands of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission could soon become a reality for Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro. [The Oklahoman]

A commitment to transportation funding: The state is still looking for ways to ensure its transportation infrastructure gets the funding it needs. With the support of Gov. Kevin Stitt and leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation just might get the funding it needs this year. [The Journal Record]

Criminal Justice News

Criminal justice conversation shifts to inmate re-entry: Sarah Stitt first visited prison as a teenager while working with her father who ministered to inmates. Stitt, now Oklahoma’s first lady, found her interest in incarceration renewed when her husband launched his bid for governor. She began to probe what she called the “really negative social statistics” and began to question the state’s female incarceration rate, generational poverty and abuse. [CNHI via Tahlequah Daily Press

Oklahoma County Commissioners give sheriff permission to contract with video production company: The Oklahoma County Commissioners gave their county sheriff permission on Monday to contract with a video production company to film a TV series. The Board of County Commissioners voted 2-1 to approve the contract. The contract is one year long and can be renewed for another year. It allows Good Caper Content to film Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office employees doing their jobs, including making arrests. [KGOU] Two similar productions, Cops and Live PD, were abruptly canceled in the wake of wide-spread protests against police brutality last year. The programs had long been criticized as unethical. [KOSU]

Jail Trust subcommittee adds new members, takes on hardest issues: The Detention Center Action Committee (DCAC), a fledgling subcommittee of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (more commonly known as the Jail Trust), met Monday to induct a slate of new committee members and discuss goals. [Free Press OKC] OK Policy’s Research Director Ryan Gentzler has been named to this serve on this subcommittee.  

OKC activist files federal civil rights lawsuit against OK County DA Prater: An Oklahoma City activist with a history of protest organizing even before the May 30 George Floyd protests in OKC filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater. [Free Press OKC]

Commission leaves ordinance proposal on the table, but will create exploratory committee of racial data: Enid City Commission has decided to create an advisory committee to explore allegations of systemic racism and racial profiling with Enid Police Department rather than un-table, then pass a proposal to change police policy. [Enid News & Eagle]

Economic Opportunity

Tenants start moving into 1st phase of mixed-income community River West: Residents are starting to move into Tulsa’s mixed-income River West community as phase one nears completion. There are 74 total units opening up, with 37 for residents of the old Riverview Park public housing torn down to make room for the new apartments. The goal is bringing together people from all walks of life in a transformed Eugene Field neighborhood. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Economy & Business News

Latino leaders in meatpacking towns fight to overcome myths and hesitancy about COVID-19 vaccine: Latinos are far less likely to have gotten the COVID vaccine. A reluctance to get the shot grounded in language, culture and other factors piles onto the health care inequities that many Latinos already face. That could leave many meatpacking communities at risk. [KOSU]

Education News

Statewide virtual school board sets Epic Charter Schools termination proceedings for May: The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board has voted to move ahead with contract termination proceedings against Epic Charter Schools in a two-day trial set for May 12-13. [Tulsa World] After an executive session during Tuesday’s meeting, the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board unanimously voted to deny Epic Charter School’s motion for summary judgement regarding the board’s intent to hold a termination hearing on Epic’s charter authorization. [NonDoc] The board originally planned for four days of proceedings but has twice postponed the hearing. [The Oklahoman]

Norman businessman appointed University of Oklahoma regent: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday announced the appointment of a Norman investment executive to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. [AP News] If confirmed, Rick Nagel will fill the seat previously held by Chairman Gary Pierson, whom Stitt appointed in 2019 after the death of another regent. [NonDoc] With Pierson’s term ending in 2021, the governor chose Nagel to continue in the seat’s next seven-year term until 2028. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

“This puts our district in a very challenging position.”

-Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel, discussing impacts from last week’s Board of Education vote to settle a 2017 lawsuit. The board’s decision would effectively allow charter schools to receive local tax dollars that are currently allocated to public schools. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Number of the Day


Number of students enrolled in Oklahoma’s charter schools, which represents 11.7% of Oklahoma’s school children.

[Source: Oklahoma Department of Education]

Policy Note

A look at whether charter schools are fiscal threats to local school districts: The following is a critique of a new report on how charter schools affect the finances of public school districts. The report received publicity for its contention that charter schools don’t hurt the finances of public school districts and it was sent to policymakers — even though the data on which it is based does not support that conclusion. [The Washington Post]

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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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