In The Know: Study finds Oklahoma City and Tulsa roads among worst 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

Study finds Oklahoma City and Tulsa roads among worst in nation: The Oklahoma City urban area ranks fifth among large urban areas in the annual cost to motorists of driving on rough roads and 16th in the percentage of roads in poor condition. Tulsa ranks fourth among large urban areas in the cost to drivers and 17th in the percentage of roads in poor condition [NewsOK]. You can read the full report here.

State yanks accreditation for Langston-sponsored charter school: The Oklahoma State Board of Education are questioning Langston University’s oversight of its growing number of sponsored charter schools. The board took the unusual step Thursday of not only withholding state funds, but also yanking the 2015-16 accreditation of a Langston-sponsored charter in Oklahoma City called Alexis Rainbow Arts Academy. Langston sponsors three Tulsa charter schools, and three or four more Langston-sponsored charters could open in Tulsa this fall [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma wants to lead a shift to natural gas-powered vehicles. Is it a good idea?: CNG-powered vehicles have been more popular in Oklahoma than in any other state. It’s cleaner burning and often cheaper than conventional gasoline. But does it make sense to rebuild our transportation infrastructure around another fossil fuel? [OK Policy Blog]

Heat wave brings dangerously high temperatures to Oklahoma: A heat advisory has been issued for parts of central and eastern Oklahoma. The National Weather Service also reports an excessive heat warning for the Tulsa area Friday and parts of northeast Oklahoma. A heat advisory is in effect from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday for the Oklahoma City area [NewsOK].

Hamilton: What Medicaid expansion opponents can’t or refuse to see: Another month, another governor embraces Medicaid expansion. Just not Oklahoma’s. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker is the latest, his state joining 29 others and the District of Columbia in embracing the federal plan aimed at improving the health of America’s working poor. By contrast, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin stubbornly resists participation, arguing the state cannot afford it – even though the feds were to pick up 100 percent of the cost the first three years and at least 90 percent thereafter [Journal Record].

Port of Catoosa still struggling: Two and a half million tons of wheat, fertilizer, steel, and manufacturing goods pass through the Port of Catoosa each year. The navigation system and ports are an important cog in Oklahoma’s economy. But on July 21, the sounds of industry at the Port of Catoosa were again drowned out by rain that’s plagued the navigation system since May [State Impact Oklahoma].

OKC to study all options for Indian museum: Oklahoma City is asking tough questions about the feasibility of accepting responsibility for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. The toughest one could be this: What if the iconic but unfinished building near downtown is used for something besides a showcase for Oklahoma’s tribal heritage? A bill approved by the Legislature provides a funding formula to finish the long-stalled state project, but the deal is contingent on approval by the city, which would be tasked with running the museum [NewsOK].

Democratic Convention reconvenes to consider allowing Independents in primaries: Democrats from across Oklahoma will be back in Oklahoma City on Saturday, July 25, to discuss whether or not Independent voters should be allowed to vote in future Democratic primaries. If the resulting vote is in the affirmative, Independents could vote in any Democratic primaries as early as September 2015 [CapitolBeatOK].

Large number of term-limited legislators promises interesting 2016 state Senate races: Eleven state senators will be term-limited after next year’s legislative session: Republicans Patrick Anderson, Don Barrington, Brian Bingman, Brian Crain, John Ford, Clark Jolley, Ron Justice and Mike Mazzei, and Democrats Earl Garrison, Susan Paddack and Charles Wyrick. But with change comes opportunity: 11 Senate posts that have been unassailable for the past decade are opening simultaneously, meaning the 2016 legislative election could be one of the most interesting in a long time [Tulsa World].

Court denies senator’s request for secrecy in embezzling case: Tulsa County District Judge Mary Fitzgerald denied state Sen. Rick Brinkley’s request to file under seal a motion to put his civil case on hold. Brinkley’s attorney said he still plans to file a request to stay the case, in which the Better Business Bureau of Tulsa is seeking to recover more than $1 million Brinkley allegedly embezzled while serving as an executive of the organization [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“[Governor] Fallin no doubt will continue to argue Oklahoma won’t be able to afford Medicaid expansion once federal support drops to 90 percent. The state, after all, is staring at a $1 billion hole next year. Of course, this is a budget crisis of state leadership’s own making – the result of imprudent income tax cuts that primarily benefited the state’s wealthiest. It is made worse by the decline in oil and gas revenues – again, wholly predictable, given that the industry is historically boom-bust. What state budget writers can’t or refuse to see is that by improving health outcomes, Oklahoma can expect a more productive, taxpaying workforce – fewer uninsured who all too often end up tapping taxpayer-financed services when manageable health problems, ignored because of costs, become cataclysmic.”

-Journal Record columnist Arnold Hamilton (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma births covered by Medicaid in fiscal year 2014.

Source: Oklahoma Health Care Authority

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Colorado’s effort against teen pregnancies is a startling success: Over the past six years, Colorado has conducted one of the largest experiments with long-acting birth control. If teenagers and poor women were offered free intrauterine devices and implants that prevent pregnancy for years, state officials asked, would those women choose them? They did in a big way. The birthrate among teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42 percent [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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