In The Know: State spending $4M for contractor to administer school voucher program | Lawmakers get lesson on tribal compacts | AG subpoenas Corporation Commission over 2021 winter storm

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

Interim Study 2023: Improving Youth Justice in Oklahoma (Video): With the overall occurrence of youth delinquency and detention at a historic low, Oklahoma has the opportunity to invest more resources in prevention and alternatives to incarceration in the youth legal system. OK Policy Youth Justice Policy Analyst Jill Mencke presents a history and overview of juvenile justice in Oklahoma, and gives recommendations for improvements to make the system more fair for young Oklahomans. [Jill Mencke / OK Policy]

Oklahoma News

State Spending $4 Million To Set Up Private School Tax Credit Program: The state is spending almost $4 million with a contractor to set up and administer a new private school tax credit program. That’s four times what the Oklahoma Tax Commission estimated in the spring when lawmakers were finalizing the policy. [Oklahoma Watch]

  • $3.95 million deal struck between third-party vendor and the State to administer Parental Choice Tax Credit Program [Fox25]

Oklahoma tribal leaders urge collaboration, respect in crafting state compacts: Although Gov. Kevin Stitt wasn’t in attendance at a Tuesday legislative hearing, his presence loomed large as key tribal leaders spoke about the importance of compacts between the state and Oklahoma’s tribes. Four tribal leaders told lawmakers collaboration, cooperation and mutual respect are key to the state and tribes working together to renegotiate compacts and craft new agreements. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma’s largest tribes call for negotiation to settle differences on new tax agreements [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma lawmakers get a lesson on tribal compacts [Tulsa World]
  • Oklahoma House of Representative studies tribal compacts: Aiming for cooperation, not conflict [Fox 25]

Exclusive: Oklahoma AG subpoenas corporation commission over Winter Storm Uri utility costs: Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s office subpoenaed the entire Oklahoma Corporation Commission Tuesday, seeking information about how the agency and its staff handled Winter Storm Uri. [The Oklahoman]

State Government News

Oklahoma’s state revenue is continuing to decline. Here’s why: Oklahoma’s gross tax receipts continued to decline, dropping by $167 million from the same time last year, a new report from the state treasurer’s office says. State tax receipts for the last 12 months were $17.07 billion, or 1%, below revenues from the previous year, state Treasurer Todd Russ said in his October financial report. Russ said the drop was caused by a decrease in oil and gas revenue. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma commissioner on mental health, substance abuse services to depart: Oklahoma’s top mental health official announced Tuesday that she plans to step down. Commissioner Carrie Slatton-Hodges said she will leave the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for a national position. Her final day on the job will be Dec. 31. [Oklahoma Voice]

First bonds sold for $5 billion, 15-year turnpike project: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is moving forward on a $5 billion turnpike expansion and improvement project that had been put on hold. The OTA sold $500 million worth of bonds on Oct. 26 to finance the 15-year plan, which includes about 60 projects. The interest rate was 5.17%. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma behavioral health experts say ‘bold steps’ needed to invest in future workforce: A bicameral, bipartisan study was held Tuesday to examine challenges and opportunities in Oklahoma’s behavioral mental health workforce. The state’s 77 counties are all considered mental health professional shortage areas. Experts and providers recommend the legislature consider further supporting in-state training opportunities, enhancing education programs and providing additional financial support. [KOSU]

Capitol Preservation Committee approves Heroes Christmas Tree, updates to Governor’s Mansion: The Capitol Preservation Committee on Tuesday approved the return of the Fallen Heroes Christmas Tree to the Oklahoma Capitol and improvements to the Governor’s Mansion, including removing a helicopter landing pad that is in a state of disrepair. [Tulsa World]

Health News

Ground broken on $70 million Laureate Psychiatric expansion: With a big boost to bed capacity among its goals, a $70 million expansion of a Tulsa psychiatric hospital has officially broken ground. Saint Francis Health System officials were joined by city leaders Tuesday for the ceremony to kick off a project to expand Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital. [Tulsa World]

Confirmed ‘bird flu’ cases in four Oklahoma counties: Oklahoma State Agriculture officials are warning all Oklahoma poultry producers and farmers with backyard flocks to be aware of several reports of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. [KFOR]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County jail’s future: Awaiting approval for new location near Will Rogers Airport: Last year, voters decided Oklahoma County will get a new jail. Commissioners say they have a location in mind and now they’re waiting on approval from Will Rogers Airport. [Fox 25]

  • Oklahoma County Jail seeks $1.5 million in ARPA funds for debated facility renovations [Fox 25]

Tulsa County wants ruling revisited in dispute over cost of housing DOC inmates: Tulsa County officials have asked the state Supreme Court to reconsider its decision in a dispute over how much the Department of Corrections pays counties to house inmates in their jails and how daily costs are calculated. [Tulsa World]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Becky Gligo, Housing Solutions executive director, stepping aside for new opportunity: Becky Gligo, a key player in the city’s efforts to address homelessness, is leaving her job as executive director of Housing Solutions and relocating to Texas. Housing Solutions is the lead agency for a Way Home for Tulsa, a consortium of 55 private and public entities dedicated to working together to make homelessness in Tulsa rare, brief and nonrecurring. [Tulsa World]

Education News

Proposed rules threaten existence of Oklahoma online school with 1,150 students: A 9-year-old alternative school serving 1,150 Oklahoma students says its existence is being threatened by proposed new administrative rules from the State Department of Education. Insight School of Oklahoma is sanctioned by the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board and offers an online school of choice for any students in grades 6-12 needing specialized instruction outside the traditional educational setting. [Tulsa World]

General News

Revival to examine the past and reimagine the future of Oklahoma’s Black towns: An event focusing on Oklahoma’s historic Black towns is set for Friday through Monday in and around Tulsa. [The Oklahoman]

Barbie launches Wilma Mankiller doll, first female Cherokee principal chief: The Cherokee Nation’s first female principal chief is being honored with her very own Barbie doll. The Wilma Mankiller doll is part of the Barbie “Inspiring Women” series and is now available for purchase. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Local News

  • Enid group wants to recall city commissioner over claims of supremacy ties [KFOR]
  • OKC: Where development on the OKANA hotel and resort stands after one year of construction [The Oklahoman]
  • The Oklahoma City Public Schools calendar may be changing next year [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“I believe that we’re going to get a lot more done if we simply work together. The state’s going to benefit. The tribes are going to benefit. One doesn’t need to try to get it over on the other one. It needs to be a respectful exchange.”

-Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby, speaking during an interim study on tribal-state relations and renegotiating compacts. [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Oklahomans with the lowest household incomes (the bottom 20%) pay twice as much of their income as a share of taxes than do Oklahomans among the top 1% of earners. Oklahomans in the bottom 20% of earnings pay 13.2% of their income as a share of state and local taxes, while the top 1% pays only 6.2% of their income for taxes. [ITEP]    

Policy Note

Power to the People: How Workers Can Fight Tax Inequity: One of the most glaring problems facing workers today is tax inequity. The preferential treatment of capital gains (income from wealth) over wage income in both federal and state tax codes is a prime example. The wealthy’s income has vastly risen over the past few decades, while workers have fared much worse by comparison. While tax policy alone will not resolve injustice in our economy, fixing the tax code can play a role in redefining how that economic relationship works. No one wants to live in a country where a social worker pays a higher share of their income in taxes than a CEO. [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy]

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David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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