In The Know: Taxpayers paid $22k for inflammatory education video | Gov., tribal officials sound off on tribal, state relations | Economist: Recession still a possibility

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.

State Government News

Taxpayers paid $22,500 for inflammatory video from Oklahoma State Department of Education: The Oklahoma State Department of Education spent $22,500 in taxpayer funds to create a controversial video that painted teacher unions in a sinister light. The agency paid the Houston-based marketing firm Precision Outreach to make the “public awareness video” and for future production services through May 21, 2024, according to purchase orders released in response to an Open Records request. [Oklahoma Voice]

Black-owned newspaper denied interview with Ryan Walters about PragerU partnership: The controversy over Ryan Walters’ embrace of PragerU, a conservative educational content provider, intensified Thursday with a heated dispute over the Oklahoma State Department of Education banning a Black-owned newspaper from talking to the schools superintendent. [The Oklahoman]

This Week in Oklahoma Politics: Ryan Walters lawsuits, PragerU partnership, governor’s veto overrides and more: “This Week in Oklahoma Politics” discusses two new lawsuits against State Superintendent Ryan Walters, and a new partnership announced by Walters between the State Department of Education and controversial, conservative media organization, PragerU. [KOSU]

Column: Desperate for a seat at the table, Oklahomans wait hours to get into education meetings: For months now, hundreds of Oklahomans have begun lining up at 4 a.m. to stand in long winding lines in hopes of securing one of a few handfuls of seats inside the boardroom where a largely-appointed panel is making critical decisions that impact their communities and local schools. [Janelle Stecklein Column / Oklahoma Voice]

Column: Turbocharge Oklahoma’s economy by attracting high earners who seek lower taxes: Every day, drivers choose gas stations with the lowest posted price, even if the savings are “only” a few cents a gallon. Yet, some government officials insist those same citizens are not similarly price conscious when it comes to state tax rates. [Thomas Rashid, M.D. Guest Column / Tulsa World]

  • From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: State tax levels have little effect on whether and where people move — certainly not to a degree that should lead state policymakers to enact unaffordable tax cuts to attract people or avoid enacting productive increases focused on the wealthy.  [Read More]

Tribal Nations News

Native American liaison ready to ‘be that olive branch’ from governor’s office: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recent selection for his Native American liaison said he hopes to represent an olive branch for tribal citizens. Stitt’s selection has drawn criticism from tribal officials. [Tulsa World]

Gov. Stitt Guest Column: ‘I will not let eastern Oklahoma become a reservation’: As a fourth-generation Oklahoman, it’s a great honor to serve as your governor. I’m the CEO of the state ― I oversee a $22 billion budget, 30,000 state employees, and fight for an even playing field for all 4 million Oklahomans. I’ve been very clear ― I will not let eastern Oklahoma become a reservation. No one in Oklahoma should want that. [Gov. Kevin Stitt / The Oklahoman]

Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton Guest Column: This is why tribal sovereignty matters: Imagine the U.S. government took your home, but promised to give you other land and protections in exchange. Now, imagine someone came along years later and told you those agreements don’t count anymore, because it encroaches on power they want for themselves. In short, that’s what Oklahoma’s 39 tribes are talking about when we focus on the idea of tribal sovereignty. We are defending our right to what the U.S. government promised. Unfortunately, some people and groups act as if sovereignty is not real, especially when it is inconvenient for them. However, tribal sovereignty is a matter of rock-solid law, not opinion. [Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear Guest Column: Dramatic is a nice way to describe what has happened to Native Americans through history: My first day in law school was one of those times, and I remember the law professor saying, “I want you to remember this: Do not confuse what is legal or illegal with what is right or wrong.” While I’ve never forgotten that important lesson, I have yet to determine who decides the difference. I have sought this answer in law books, church, in Osage ceremonies and from others. What I do know without question is that throughout the history of the state of Oklahoma, there has been a lot of legal and illegal and a lot of right and wrong. [Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby Guest Column: Teachers, policemen, firefighters, engineers, construction workers, maintenance workers, scientists, nutritionists and other neighbors too numerous to mention here are doing the important daily work of government. Chickasaw Nation employees are part of this work, as they cooperate with local, state and federal employees to improve education, enhance public safety, build and maintain roads and bridges, improve water treatment systems, promote economic development, create jobs and enhance the overall quality of life. [Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. Guest Column: The contributions and cultures of Oklahoma’s many tribes make an enormous impact: Tribes are part of Oklahoma. We were rooted here before statehood in 1907, and it’s what makes us vibrant and unique today. While we may be frozen in this moment of time with a governor bent on divisiveness and erasing tribes and tribal sovereignty from our state — our home is and always will be here, and our nation and the state will always be intertwined. [Cherokee Nation Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Guest Column: How Gov. Stitt’s opposition to Native American sovereignty seems like a time loop: In the grand, sprawling tapestry of American history, there’s a nasty little thread that runs through the history of Oklahoma that has been manifesting in Gov. Kevin Stitt these last few years. It’s a thread that’s as resilient as it is contentious, and it’s been woven with the same pattern for nearly a century: opposition to Native American sovereignty. [Kevin Chuculate Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Column: How much would the state be willing to offer to bring the tribes to Oklahoma today?: Tribal governments provide programs and services to their citizens, including health care, education, workforce development and many others. We estimated the direct economic contribution of tribal governments to be nearly $900 million in 2019, directly employing nearly 20,000 workers. How much would the state be willing to offer to bring the tribes to Oklahoma today? [Dr. Kyle Dean Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Editorial: Only fighting words remain between Gov. Stitt and tribal leaders: If the recent addresses from Gov. Kevin Stitt and Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. reveal anything, it’s that state-tribal relations are not going to get better without intervention. [Editorial / Tulsa World

Voting and Election News

Oklahoma might allow candidates to use campaign cash for childcare: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission might allow candidates to use campaign funds to cover babysitting, day care or other childcare costs. Sen. Jessica Garvin, who asked the commission to permit dependent care expenditures, said allowing candidates to use campaign funds to cover childcare costs incurred as a result of running for office would make it easier for young parents — particularly mothers — to seek elected office. [Oklahoma Voice]

Health News

Sen. John Haste: Check on your neighbors and friends during this National Suicide Prevention Week: Last year, 872 Oklahomans died by suicide. So far this year, Oklahoma suicide deaths are outpacing last year’s total. During National Suicide Prevention Week, that begins Sunday, Oklahomans should take this opportunity to check in on each other. [Sen. John Haste Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Criminal Justice News

Oklahoma County settles federal case over jail inmate’s death for $400,000: A lawsuit over a 2018 inmate death at the Oklahoma County jail is being settled for $400,000. The lawsuit alleged the woman was never seen by a physician at the jail even though she repeatedly complained of severe abdominal pain. She had disclosed she had a heroin addiction, a known cause of ulcers, when she had been booked in. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City woman wins $200,000 in settlement; says police broke her arm during search: A federal judge this week authorized a settlement between the city and a woman who accused police of entering her home without a proper warrant and breaking her arm during a search for her mentally ill son. [The Oklahoman]

Guest Column: Why cash seizures backfire on Oklahoma law enforcement: Oklahoma agencies normally keep quiet about civil forfeiture, which is why the state ranks among the worst in the nation for forfeiture transparency. Oklahoma publishes no statewide reports, conducts no regular audits and tracks only limited metrics. The silence is strategic. [Dan Alban and Daryl James Guest Column / The Oklahoman]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Oklahoma Human Services announces grant to combat food insecurity: Oklahoma Human Services announced a $12.5 million grant this week to support the availability of affordable and nutritious foods after the COVID-19 pandemic impacted access. [KGOU]

Economy & Business News

Recession this year ‘still on the table,’ Midwest economist says: After climbing for five straight months, a leading economic indicator of manufacturing growth for a nine-state region — including Oklahoma — fell below that mark for a second straight month. [Tulsa World]

OMPA invests in solar project in Kiowa County: The Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority has invested in a solar power project planned by a Canadian company in Kiowa County. When the North Fork Solar project is completed and begins to produce power in 2024, it will be enough to energize 35,000 homes. [Journal Record]

Businesses feeling more stress to fill jobs: A monthly survey from the National Federation of Independent Businesses found that 40% of small business owners reported job openings they could not fill. Likely due to that difficulty, a net 26% of business owners intend to raise their pay rates in the next three months. [Journal Record]

Sen. Carri Hicks: Oklahoma child care deserts still need our help: As Oklahoma continues to grow and evolve with new industries and skills needed for workforce success, a persistent challenge remains for those who are parents or caregivers – finding quality child care for their families. In fact, a stark 55% of Oklahomans still live in a child care desert, according to the Center for American Progress, an area that lacks providers or availability so that the needs of families cannot be met. [Sen. Carri Hicks Guest Column / Journal Record]

Education News

Amanda Morrall becomes first Obama Scholar from Tulsa: On Wednesday, the Obama Foundation announced Tulsa philanthropic thought leader Amanda Morrall will be part of its sixth cohort of Obama Scholars. The Obama Scholars Program gives leaders who are already making a difference in their own communities the opportunity to expand their impact through a curriculum that brings together academic, skills-based and hands-on learning. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Tulsa World Opinion podcast: ‘Culture of intimidation’ won’t improve education, Rep. Regina Goodwin says (Audio): State Rep. Regina Goodwin of Tulsa’s District 73 joins Ginnie Graham to discuss the most recent state board of education meeting, where she was allowed to speak during the public comment portion. How can the relationship between state legislators and State Superintendent Ryan Walters improve? [Tulsa World]

Editorial: TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist moved district forward, left with grace and honor: Tulsa Public Schools was improved by the more than eight years under Superintendent Deborah Gist, who will be leaving Sept. 15. She requested the mutual separation in an effort to spare students and families the wrath of a hostile political state takeover. [Editorial / Tulsa World]

General News

How an Oklahoma pastor helped his church officially support transgender rights: The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada recently expressed its views on these hot button issues at the denomination’s recent General Assembly, approving a statement opposing legislation “harmful” to transgender and “gender-diverse” individuals, while also supporting a statement voicing objections to Christian nationalism. [The Oklahoman]

How big is too big for Edmond? City leaders, some residents disagree: Some city leaders and residents want to the see the community grow with additional businesses and more housing options for people who work in Edmond. Others are concerned about depreciating property values that might come with additional multi-family housing developments. For Edmond leaders, it has become its quintessential question. How big is too big? [The Oklahoman]

Column: Ten times America has failed Black women: In an America that has demonized and degraded Black women since the birth of this nation, high rates of violence against and death of Black women have become the inevitable result. Does it have to be this way for another generation? [Deon Osborne Column / The Black Wall Street Times]

Column: Living the American dream means a willingness to respect, accept your neighbors: Residing in a community where their neighbors are a true blend of every race, religion and sexual orientation, these students and their families identify and accept the daily challenge that living the American dream requires a willingness to respect and accept your neighbors. Showing respect and embracing differences are essential to accepting others. [Drew Diamond Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Column: Leadership Tulsa redefining ‘leadership’ to broaden voices at decision-making tables: Leadership Tulsa celebrates 50 years of existence this month and as one of the oldest leadership organizations in the country, we hope all of Tulsa is proud of this model that intersects generations, cultures and public and private sectors. [Marcia Bruno-Todd Guest Column / Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“I firmly believe that there’s no reason that someone should have childcare as a barrier to enter the workforce or enter into public service. You shouldn’t have to pick between being a parent and having a successful career.”

-Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, speaking about her introduced legislation that would allow candidates to use campaign funds for childcare expenses [Oklahoma Voice]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s poverty rate for 2021, which was the nation’s 10th highest. The Census Bureau will be releasing data for 2022 next week. [OK Policy]

Policy Note

What to Watch for in Next Week’s Census Data on Poverty, Income, and Health Insurance in 2022: On September 12, the Census Bureau will release nationwide figures for poverty, income, and health insurance coverage in 2022 from its Current Population Survey (CPS). Additional health insurance data from the American Community Survey (ACS) will follow September 14. Here are two things to look for. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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


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.

Leave a Reply

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