In The Know: Supporters abandon effort to repeal tax hikes funding teacher raises

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

Supporters Abandon Effort to Repeal Tax Hikes Funding Teacher Raises: ‘We Don’t Have Enough Time,’ Leader Says: An effort to repeal a tax-hike bill to fund teacher pay raises will not move forward, Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, co-founder of Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite, said Monday. “We don’t have enough time,” she said. The Oklahoma Supreme Court on June 22 tossed out the referendum petition, saying it was legally insufficient and invalid for various reasons [Tulsa World]. The Oklahoma Education Association is claiming victory. The OEA President, Alicia Preist, declared after she learned the anti-tax group, Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite was abandoning its efforts to repeal the tax hikes linked to teacher pay raises [KFOR]. The chances of a veto referendum that would nix about $400 million in tax revenue have dropped to zero, catching the attention of a credit rating agency [Journal Record].

Medical Marijuana Trade Group to Fallin: Decision Not to Call Special Session a ‘Failure of Leadership’: The leader of a trade group for Oklahoma’s fledgling medical marijuana industry said Monday that Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision not to convene a special legislative session regarding State Question 788 is a “failure of leadership” and called on the governor to reverse her Friday announcement [Tulsa World]. As Oklahoma joins the ranks of nearly 30 states that have legalized medical marijuana, it will also join a swath of states that reduce the cost of access for low-income patients. State Question 788 states that Oklahoma State Department of Health officials must charge residents $100 for their licenses. However, that rate drops to $20 for those on Medicaid or Medicare [Journal Record].

(Capitol Update) More People Voted, and It Mattered: This election year in Oklahoma, and probably nationally, is shaping up to be one of the strangest in a while. So far, the best explanation seems to be “participation.” For quite a while now, a lot of people have just been absent from the political process. Probably many felt their participation didn’t matter. As a result, some candidates who logically would seem unelectable have gotten elected or re-elected because of the apathy. At least for this election cycle, that seems to have changed [OKPolicy].

Candidate Profiles: The Race for Oklahoma Governor, 2018: All of a sudden last week, 15 candidates in the Oklahoma governor’s race were pared to five: one Democrat, two Libertarians, two Republicans. The next winnowing will be on Aug. 28, when runoffs will lock in each party’s torchbearer. Then it’s a 10-week sprint to the election of Oklahoma’s 28th governor. If you’re still wavering on a choice, or haven’t considered what’s at stake, it’s time to get serious. Oklahoma Watch is offering these candidate profiles, with facts, analysis and context, to  help readers decide how to vote and understand the implications of electing one man vs. another [Oklahoma Watch].

Hamilton: Next two months could be wild: It is tempting to suggest Todd Lamb’s carefully scripted political career just went up in smoke. Heading into this week’s primary, the two-term lieutenant governor was odds-on favorite to be the Republican gubernatorial nominee, backed by in-state heavy hitters like Harold Hamm and Larry Nichols and out-of-staters like Donald Trump Jr [Armold Hamilton / Journal Record].

Oklahoma’s Soonercare Could Get Refunds If Drugs Don’t Make Patients Healthier: Oklahoma will be the first state to experiment with charging drug companies if their medicines don’t deliver the results they promised. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority announced Thursday that it had received federal permission to negotiate agreements with drug companies for reimbursements based on how well medicines work. Drugmakers aren’t required to participate in the program [NewsOK].

Oklahoma and Illegal Tobacco Sales to Minors: Oklahoma tobacco retailers are increasingly not complying with state law regarding underage tobacco sales. Last year, Oklahoma tobacco retailers posted an overall non-compliance rate of nearly 18 percent. That’s troubling for local prevention professionals who say that the rising underage tobacco sales rate means that some retailers are placing profit ahead of young lives. It also risks federal funding that supports vital Oklahoma health initiatives [Miami News-Record].

Oklahoma Ranks near Worst in the Nation for Child Well-Being: A new report shows the youngest generation of Oklahomans face far-reaching challenges. The state ranks near the bottom in the nation for most measures of child well-being, according to the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Overall, the report ranks Oklahoma 44th out of all 50 states for child well-being [Enid News & Eagle].

Oklahoma’s School Plan Receives Federal Approval: Oklahoma’s consolidated public school plan has received final approval from the U.S. Department of Education, a required benchmark under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Under ESSA, which replaced the No Child Left Behind Act in 2015, states are required to set specific academic measures for local schools. However, the federal school act allows for increased flexibility among states to create their own criteria for judging school success [NewsOK].

Officials: “Lack of Institutional Control” at Oklahoma Charter School: The Oklahoma State Department of Education reports that investigators found “a lack of institutional control” at a charter school in Tulsa, including the school superintendent once using the intercom to tell teachers to change grades. The Tulsa World reports that a preliminary accreditation report for Langston Hughes Academy for Arts and Technology found discrepancies between teachers’ records of grade transcripts, suspensions and attendance and what was submitted to the state as required by law [KFOR]. Tulsa World editorial: Trouble at Langston Hughes shows need for effective charter school oversight [Tulsa World].

University of Oklahoma President Jim Gallogly cut, reorganized his executives on first day: Jim Gallogly spent his first morning as University of Oklahoma president streamlining the senior staff. OU announced cuts to the executive staff and a reorganization just after noon. The plan reduces the number of executives who report to Gallogly from 25 to 17, nearly one-third. Among the executives who were let go are Nick Hathaway, vice president for administration and finance. That position was eliminated. Also gone are Chris Kuwitzky, chief financial officer, and Clive Mander, chief audit executive. OU announced it will conduct national searches to hire new people for those positions [NewsOK].

OK Corporation Commission considers Wind Catcher, extends hearing to second day: Members of Oklahoma’s Corporation Commission on Monday heard from Public Service Co. of Oklahoma’s regulatory vice president and dozens of Oklahomans who either support or oppose the proposed Wind Catcher Energy Connection project. They listened to the testimony as part of their consideration of an application PSO has filed with the commission that seeks preapproval to recover from ratepayers its costs related to the $4.5 billion project [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“We are one step closer to ending our state’s crippling teacher shortage. It will take years to rebuild our state’s teaching profession after a decade of eroded funding to public education and classrooms, but today brings much-needed certainty as we move forward. I am extremely optimistic about the future of public education.”

-State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, on news that an anti-tax group is abandoning its effort to repeal the tax increases that are funding Oklahoma teacher raises [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans who voted in the June 2018 gubernatorial primary, which was nearly 27,000 more than the number who voted in the November 2014 general election.

[Oklahoma State Election Board]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Maine Tried a New Way of Voting. Will Other States Follow? As with other cities that have tried ranked-choice voting, many voters were perplexed at the polls, results were delayed, and voter education and new software cost the state thousands of dollars. At the same time, it offered voters a chance to elect local officials with majority support — unusual in a state where nine of the last 11 winners in gubernatorial races earned less than 50 percent of the vote. Proponents such as Richie say it also reduces negative campaigning since it requires candidates to reach out to voters who may rank them as a second or third choice [RouteFifty]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.