In The Know: Teacher’s union ends walkout, switching focus to elections

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

Teacher’s union ends walkout, switching focus to elections: Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said educators were able to secure $479 million in funding for the upcoming school year, and will now shift their focus to the upcoming election season and sending smaller delegations of teachers to continue to advocate at the Capitol. [CNHI] ‘We have unfinished business’: Despite calls from union to end walkout, teachers return Friday to the Capitol [Tulsa World] Walkout resulted in major victories for education, but the work is not done [OK Policy]

Skyler Moore and more than 7,000 Oklahomans have been waiting for years for state help, but will the Legislature come through?: In Oklahoma, 7,634 people with IQs below 70 are on a waiting list for Medicaid-funded Department of Human Services assistance. Like Skyler, nearly 1,700 of those people have been waiting more than 10 years. It’s a statewide problem. In Tulsa County, 1,379 people are on the waiting list and 325 of them have been pending for 10 years or more. [Wayne Greene/Tulsa World] Take a number: Oklahomans with disabilities face devastating delays [OK Policy]

Oklahoma colleges enroll record numbers of Hispanic students: As Oklahoma’s Hispanic population grows, so does the number of Latino students at the state’s public colleges and universities. Many report they are the first in their family to attend college. [The Oklahoman]

Who filed for the #okleg? 21 eligible incumbents pursue other options: As 794 sets of paperwork settle and the state deposits candidate checks, the Oklahoma Election Board’s candidate list shows 18 eligible incumbent House members and four eligible incumbent Senate members have chosen to forgo further service in the Legislature. Combined with 12 House members, six Senate members who are term-limited a vacant House seat and a vacant Senate seat, that means 42 (or 28.1 percent) of the state’s 149 legislative seats are guaranteed to be filled by new faces when the 2019 session commences. [NonDoc]

Bill Watch: Next week in #okleg | April 13, 2018: In our weekly Bill Watch post, we discuss what happened and what to look for in the bills we’re following most closely in the Oklahoma Legislature. Next Thursday (April 19th) is the deadline for Senate bills assigned to make it through the House Appropriations and Budget committee. As of yesterday, all other bills are dead unless they have passed one chamber and their assigned committee in the opposite chamber. [OK Policy]

Educators running for Legislature are going to ‘change the bedrock’ in Oklahoma, supporters say: A significant number of the 794 people who declared their intent to run for state House and Senate seats last week are career educators. It’s not yet clear how many in the education field are vying for legislative seats, but initial filings show that elementary school teachers to reading specialists to high school principals are running for the Legislature. [Tulsa World]

Capital gains tax deduction energizes partisan divide: What started life as a vague sentence buried in a complex ballot question has grown into a huge tax break for some Oklahomans and a target for teachers seeking more money for education. Worth $465 million in a recent five-year period, with most of the money going to people who made more than $200,000, the capital gains tax deduction has staunch defenders in some industries, including agriculture. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma’s capital gains tax break is a windfall for the wealthiest with no proven benefit for the economy [OK Policy]

Teacher walkout was nonpartisan, but politics came into play: The teacher walkout, which began April 2 and ended two weeks later, included a variety of storylines. For some, it was a push back on conservative politics, including a pronouncement from The Atlantic magazine that “The Red-State revolt” had spread to Oklahoma, according to one of its headlines. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma justice reform bills need approval: The Legislature has numerous important issues to deal with. One of these is corrections, where the need to approve reform legislation is as great as ever. The prisons run by the Department of Corrections are filled beyond capacity, and have been for years. [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman] Passing revised justice reform measures is necessary but not nearly enough [OK Policy]

Losing their adopted homeland: Maria Lopez, from her earliest memories, has considered herself American, and has called Enid her home. The 23-year-old has lived in Enid since she was a baby, graduated from, serves on two boards and is an employee at Autry Technology Center, and is a student at Northern Oklahoma College Enid, soon to transfer to Oklahoma State University. But, in spite of her contributions to the community, Lopez’s future in Enid, and in the United States, is uncertain. [Enid News & Eagle] Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy]

The Oklahoma teachers strike produced some remarkable results, but we won’t know who won until after November’s election: When the final history of the 2018 teachers’ strike is written it should be judged on its ability to refocus the political thinking of Oklahomans.If the strike can change the way Oklahomans think and vote, there is no greater victory. The upsurge in candidate filings last week is the first indicator that the teachers’ voices are being heard in meaningful ways. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

New committee to study Oklahoma public health system: A new joint council will work on improving Oklahoma’s public health system. The Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma City-County Health Department and Tulsa Health Department will participate in the new Joint Council on Public Health. It will review health data, prioritize services and develop partnerships, among other duties. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma health care groups hoping for better in 2019: When federal matching funds were reduced for Oklahoma’s Medicaid system in recent years, state officials handled that change by reducing payments to health care providers. This year, federal matching funds are expected to increase. Providers argue reasonably that a portion of that money should be used to now increase payments to doctors, hospitals and other professionals. [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman]

Workers are climbing wind turbines to the middle class: Politicians may hotly debate climate change and what to do about it, but the economy has come down clearly on one side. Jobs in clean energy are growing faster than any other sector in the United States. [NBC News]

Rep. Strohm resigns as chaplain coordinator for Oklahoma House of Representatives: A representative who created controversial new guidelines for a popular program in the Oklahoma House of Representatives is now stepping down as the head of that program. [KFOR]

Quote of the Day

“We know that when our state invests in education, they are investing in the economic development of our state. We must continue on. We will be doing other things to make sure that our teachers are staying engaged and involved. They’ll be walking. They’ll be knocking on doors, they’ll be doing postcards for education candidates. They’ll be doing whatever our education candidates need them to do so we can be successful, today tomorrow and well into the future.”

Alicia Priest, President of the Oklahoma Education Association, on OEA’s plans to elect pro-education candidates in November (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of current Oklahoma state representatives who have run unopposed at least once in their political career.

Source: The Oklahoman

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Rural health care is expensive, and Washington isn’t helping: Some of the Affordable Care Act’s biggest problems — rising premiums and lackluster competition among insurers — are most severe in rural areas. And those areas tend to be conservative, but there’s little serious effort among Republicans to address these problems. [Axios]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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