In The Know: Tax cut conversations | Legislature could do more for everyday Oklahomans | Push for equity after Juneteenth federal recognition

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

The Oklahoma Legislature could have done more to support everyday Oklahomans: Oklahoma legislators have it in their power to create a state with healthy families and safe, thriving communities. By protecting the well-being of average Oklahomans, and not just corporations or the wealthy few, Oklahoma can be a place where every person can reach their full potential. While legislators took some positive steps — including ensuring Medicaid funding, providing a needed tenant protection, and protecting state questions — many opportunities to invest in hard-working Oklahomans were left on the table. [Sabine Brown, Gabrielle Jacobi, Josie Phillips, Gabriela Ramirez-Perez, Emma Morris / OK Policy

More ARPA fund spending decisions expected starting in July (Capitol Update): It’s a little difficult to track, but I believe the Legislature so far has appropriated about $202 million of the $1.87 billion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding from the federal government. The state has been a little slow out of the gate, but it looks like legislators are on track to begin making more ARPA spending decisions beginning in July. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy

Oklahoma News

Editorial: Economic headwinds should prompt restraint on tax cuts: With pressure of the June 28 primary elections building, lawmakers worked overtime in this month’s special session to produce legislation that smacks of bad fiscal policy. Prompted by Gov. Kevin Stitt’s challenge to enact what he calls “inflation relief,” the state House of Representatives passed bills for income tax cuts and elimination of the state grocery sales tax. These proposals would cost the Oklahoma treasury about $500 million a year. [Editorial / Tulsa World

  • Oklahoma House and Senate leaders dispute resolution of special session on taxes [KGOU

Tulsa Juneteenth Festival vendors say the fight isn’t over despite federal recognition of holiday: Although the physical freedoms of Black Americans were recognized when Juneteenth became a federal holiday last year, vendors at this weekend’s Tulsa Juneteenth Festival said they are still fighting for economic freedom and equitable representation. [Tulsa World

  • There are Juneteenth sales, promotions, but no remunerations [The Journal Record
  • Juneteenth festivities around Tulsa honor Black history, culture, music [Tulsa World
  • OKC celebrates Juneteenth on the East with art, food, music and more [The Oklahoman

State Government News

Few Oklahoma state employees served as substitute teachers under Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan: In the peak of January’s COVID-19 surge, more than half of Oklahoma’s public school districts closed as the omicron variant crashed over the state in an overwhelming wave of infections. The governor took no measures to reduce spread of the virus but instead issued an executive order Jan. 18 allowing state employees to volunteer to substitute teach. [The Oklahoman

Advocates Prepare Waiting List Families to Receive Services: Developmental disability advocacy groups will host virtual trainings throughout the summer to help prepare more than 5,100 Oklahoma families who are soon expected to come off the waiting list for support services. [The Oklahoma City Sentinel

Guest column: Without permanent solution for Dreamers, young Oklahomans could face deportation: Election season is upon us in Oklahoma, and many of our congressional delegation candidates have campaigned on their prayers for America and their application of faith values in policymaking.  Andres Perilla is an Oklahoma resident who has prayed and sought to do things the right way. He graduated from an Oklahoma high school with a 4.3 GPA only to learn that is where his American dream would come to a grinding halt because of the discovery that he wasn’t a citizen or even a legal immigrant. [Column / The Oklahoman

Editorial: Gun violence forum misses opportunity when gun policy was declared ‘off the table’: A recent forum discussing gun violence wasted an opportunity when organizers said they would not discuss gun policy. The forum, which included local law enforcement and elected leaders, was designed to discuss how to make people safer from the types of mass shootings that have resulted in multiple deaths, including four people shot to death at the Saint Francis Hospital campus on June 1. But forum hosts declined to discuss topics that might include legislative action to prevent firearms from getting into the wrong hands. [Editorial / Tulsa World

Federal Government News

Lankford votes against expansion of health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxins: Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma was one of just 14 senators, all Republicans, to vote Thursday against a bipartisan bill that would expand access to health care treatment and disability benefits for veterans exposed to toxins. [Public Radio Tulsa

Tribal Nations News

Summit in Tulsa to address Indian boarding schools’ history, impact: Survivors and descendants of survivors are invited to a summit with area tribal leaders later this week on the impacts of a federal initiative investigating historical boarding schools across the country. The United Indian Nations of Oklahoma, the Shawnee Tribe and the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition will host the discussion on Wednesday at the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa. [Tulsa World

Voting and Election News

Show me the money: 3 Republicans seek state treasurer: Increasing the use of technology and making improvements to the state’s Unclaimed Property Program are two issues of focus for the three Republicans running to be the next Oklahoma state treasurer. However, the race has experienced a massive shake up over the past two weeks after one candidate, David Hooten, was accused of sexual harassment and resigned from his position as Oklahoma County clerk. [NonDoc

  • Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten resigns, vows to continue run for state treasurer: [The Oklahoman
  • Recording captures David Hooten explaining inappropriate team-building activity to female staffers [The Oklahoman

Incumbent Lucas faces 2 challengers in GOP primary for District 3 U.S. Rep seat: Two challengers are looking to unseat longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas in the Republican primary for the District 3 Congressional seat, which includes Garfield County and Northwest Oklahoma. [Enid News & Eagle

State Chamber debate set as Oklahoma’s GOP Senate race hits home stretch: Republicans vying to replace Sen. Jim Inhofe head to the home stretch this week in a race distinguished by the lack of discourse among the top candidates. A State Chamber debate set for Wednesday apparently will be missing the race’s frontrunner, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, marking the third event in the last few weeks that he has skipped. [The Oklahoman

Johnson, Hofmeister face off for Democratic nomination in governor race: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister faces former state Sen. Connie Johnson in the June 28 Democratic primary for governor. Hofmeister, who is finishing her second term as state superintendent, switched from Republican to Democrat in November. [Tulsa World

A clash of generations in SD 18 Republican Primary:  The race for the newly relocated Senate District 18 is a contest between “the steady hand of experience” and “fresh leadership.” Jack Stewart, 72, and Hunter Zearley, 27, are competing in the Republican primary election June 28. No candidate from any other party is running, so this election will decide the new District 18 state senator. [NonDoc

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s primary challenge: getting his allies elected to state offices: On the campaign trail, Stitt has endorsed and touted his handpicked attorney general, who is running for a four-year term, and his education secretary, who is vying to be the next state schools superintendent. [The Oklahoman]

Health News

Improved access to mental health care in Oklahoma could help reduce female incarceration, advocates say: As in most states, Oklahoma’s criminal code doesn’t offer reduced sentencing for abuse survivors. But unlike most states, Oklahoma incarcerates women at stunningly high rates. As of 2020, Oklahoma had the second highest female incarceration rate in the country, with the state imprisoning women at a rate more than twice the national average, according to The Sentencing Project. [Big If True

Criminal Justice News

Rogers County Sheriff: Permitless open carry ‘ought to be a concern to anybody’: A man who carried an AR-15 into an AT&T store in Broken Arrow will appear in Tulsa County Court Tuesday. Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin recently said permitless carry plus other lax gun laws puts police at risk. Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton agrees. He said the incident in Broken Arrow frightened people for good reason. [Public Radio Tulsa

Oklahoma prisons plagued with staffing shortages, operational inefficiencies: Severe staffing shortages and operational inefficiencies within Oklahoma’s prison system are placing a legal and financial burden on the state, examiners from the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency wrote in a draft report released on Thursday. [The Ardmorite

Economic Opportunity

‘Rise Up & Shine’: How a small cafe in downtown OKC is fighting homelessness: A small team clears trays from tables and prepares orders selected from a glass case filled with sandwiches, quiches, pastries and more all prepped just across the street in the kitchens of City Rescue Mission. The nonprofit has provided services to those experiencing homelessness for over 60 years, but President and CEO Erin Goodin said she knew they had the capacity to do more. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Norman school board fires teacher who leaked school shooting threat, hit list:  A Norman High School teacher has been fired for leaking images of a school shooting threat, a hit list of students’ names and vulgar graffiti. [The Oklahoman

TPS board members hear from community on LGBTQ inclusivity in classrooms: Tulsa Public School board members heard from the community on their thoughts over LGBTQ inclusivity in Tulsa classrooms during a meeting held Monday evening. [Public Radio Tulsa

Quote of the Day

“There are discussions to be had about tax policy, state budgets and how to give Oklahomans the services they want and need. Oklahomans should not be overtaxed. But given our state’s already low tax burden and urgent needs, we are urging restraint.”

– Tulsa World Editorial Board [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahomans who used the monthly Child Tax Credit funds on basic needs

[Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

Policy Note

Child Tax Credit Has a Critical Role in Helping Families Maintain Economic Stability: Economic assistance programs are key to helping provide individuals and families with income stability, with benefits accruing not just to the families receiving assistance but to the economy as a whole. The Child Tax Credit, especially when received monthly, has an important role to play in addressing the income volatility that many families face. Over a three-year span more than 1 in every 3 households with children — and about 1 in 2 such Black and Latino households — reported a major hardship such as inability to afford adequate food, shelter, or utilities. These and other effects of income insecurity have been shown to hinder childrens’ educational, health and future economic outcomes. Large income fluctuations within and between years are common for U.S. families, and especially so for those with low incomes, which often causes severe consequences. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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Kristin Wells served as the Communications and Operations Fellow for OK Policy from October 2021 to July 2022. She previously worked as a digital content producer for News On 6. A native Kansas Citian, Kristin graduated with a B.A. in Media Studies and a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Tulsa in 2020. While there, she was accepted into the Global Scholars program, spurring her interests in policy, social movements, global identities, and the importance of education and advocacy. She hopes to use her skills to continue to learn and create a more equitable future for Oklahomans. An avid sports fan, Kristin lives in Tulsa with her rescue dog and is passionate about college basketball, documentaries, and coffee.

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