In The Know: State higher ed funding lagging, OKC fights ‘food deserts,’ and 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. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

In The News

Oklahoma lags behind country in monetary support for higher education: As state funding for higher education has risen across the country, Oklahoma has been one of five states that’s seen a decline in the last five years. The only state that saw a bigger percentage decrease in state funding was Alaska, which has been cut by 21.9 percent in the last five years. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Oklahoma City Council OKs zoning to fight ‘food desert’: The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday approved “food desert” zoning to combat poor health outcomes in northeast Oklahoma City. Advocated by Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice, introduced last year and reviewed at public hearings by the Planning Commission, the measure was approved by a unanimous council. [The Oklahoman]

The Journal Record Editorial: A public vote on the minimum wage?: If Oklahomans want a higher minimum wage, they will have to place the issue before voters, not the Legislature. In Arkansas and Missouri, two neighboring red states where state lawmakers fought strongly against legislation to raise the minimum wage, higher minimum wages were ultimately approved overwhelmingly through a vote of the people at the ballot box. [Editorial Board / The Journal Record🔒]

Cell by Cell: The complete list of people who died in Oklahoma jails in 2020: The Frontier is again tracking every jail death in Oklahoma in 2020. They hope to uncover more about how and why people die in Oklahoma jails. [The Frontier]

Sheriff, OK County Commissioner disagree about requests for new year: Disagreements between District 3 Commissioner Kevin Calvey and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office once again made their way into the Board of County Commissioners meeting Monday. [Free Press OKC] Jail Trust hires jail administrator, approves contract and salary details. [Free Press OKC]

Mayor, Tulsans look for someone dedicated to racial reconciliation in city’s next police chief: Mayor G.T. Bynum clarified his vision Tuesday night for what qualities he wants to see in Tulsa’s next police chief, and then he spent an hour listening to what Tulsans would like to see. [Tulsa World]

Three City of OKC execs to receive total of over $655,000 for 2020: Salaries for three City of Oklahoma City executives and other employees were increased and a host of other business was conducted in an uncharacteristically quiet meeting of the City Council Tuesday. [Free Press OKC] The Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday approved a $500,000 incentive package for Colorado-based TTEC Services Corp. [The Journal Record] Councilman James Greiner won’t seek re-election in 2021. [The Oklahoman]

Norman UNP TIF petition could be subject to protest: A ballot measure proposing to reverse a Norman City Council vote on the University North Park tax increment finance district has had its 4,070 signatures confirmed, but the petition may be subject to protest. [NonDoc]

Reaction to raising speed limits to 80 mph mixed: Traffic engineers and other professionals have been looking at the feasibility of raising maximum allowable travel speeds on portions of some highways, like the H.E. Bailey Turnpike between Oklahoma City and Lawton. The green light for studies came after passage of House Bill 1071 last year. [The Journal Record🔒]

Corporation Commission meeting tomorrow addresses 405 Area Code exhaust plan: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission may vote January 8 on a proposal to add an additional area code to the geographic area currently served by 405. [CNHI]

Quote of the Day

“When you get into the rural areas, something that’s becoming increasingly important is transit services … for individuals with disabilities or for folks who just need a ride or an alternative means of transportation.”

-ODOT Executive Director Tim Gatz speaking about developing an Oklahoma Public Transit Policy Plan [The Journal Record🔒]

Number of the Day

218,770

The estimated number of Oklahoma children who were food insecure in 2016.

[Source: KIDS COUNT]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Federal investigators discover improprieties in Medicaid work requirement spending: We’ve written about the flaws of work requirements many times – they don’t help people get work, but they are good at cutting people off from their health insurance. Now you can add to the list of negatives both high administrative costs AND the very likely possibility that Medicaid dollars are being spent inappropriately in the work requirement waivers. [Georgetown Center for Children and Families]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and 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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