In The Know: TPS accepts Gist’s resignation ahead of accreditation vote | Oklahoma’s affordable housing crisis | Gov’s comments on income tax are short-sighted

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

Policy Matters: Oklahoma must address affordable housing crisis: Last session, the Legislature allocated $215 million to the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency to help expand affordable housing across the state. I applaud this investment by lawmakers, as well as their decision to ensure eviction summons will be written in more accessible language so renters can better understand their responsibilities in the legal process. To further address affordable housing, lawmakers next session should add anti-retaliation protections to the state’s landlord tenant act, increase the eviction filing fees to discourage unscrupulous landlords from using legal filings to pad their profits, make eviction timelines more realistic, and increase access to legal representation for folks served an eviction notice. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Statement: Gov. Stitt’s comments on individual income tax are short-sighted for Oklahoma’s long-term success: Gov. Stitt this week appeared on the national news to suggest that Oklahoma should eliminate its state income tax. Such short-sighted comments ignore the realities of governing. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma News 

‘We will bomb every school in the Union district’: Tulsa school threatened for ‘woke ideology’: Tulsa-area Union Public Schools faced its second consecutive day of bomb threats Wednesday in response to an elementary librarian’s back-to-school TikTok video. [KOSU]

  • Ryan Walters under fire after retweeting video cited as cause for school bomb threat [The Oklahoman]
  • Bomb threats at Tulsa schools as state leader demonizes diversity [The Black Wall Street Times]
  • Tulsa elementary school sees 2nd day of threats linked to posts from state leadership [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • School gets bomb threats after ‘woke ideology’ tweet with librarian’s name [Tulsa World]

How Oklahoma’s schools superintendent became the state’s top culture warrior: Ryan Walters, who called a teachers union a “terrorist organization” and pushed for prayer in public schools, offers a preview of what could be coming in other Republican-led states. [NBC News]

Watch Live: Board of Education to decide accreditation status of Tulsa Public Schools: Tulsa Public Schools is hoping to prevent losing its accreditation with the State Board of Education on Thursday as the board prepares to make a decision. The two concerns for the accreditation review are misuse of finances and inadequate financial disclosures. [News 9]

State Government News

Rumors swirl of special session on tax cuts, Gov. Stitt’s push to eliminate grocery tax: Rumors of a special session on tax cuts are circling around the Capitol. Many lawmakers believe Governor Kevin Stitt will renew his push to eliminate the grocery tax and lower the personal income tax. [News 9]

Oklahoma Supreme Court: No conflict; Justice Winchester can continue to hear OTA cases: The Oklahoma Supreme Court quickly rejected a request to disqualify a justice from hearing cases involving the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs gets a new director: Months after the last executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs was fired, a new one has been appointed. [KOSU]

Health News

Two western Oklahoma cities work to preserve their hospitals: It’s taking longer than expected, but residents in Clinton should once again have a hospital operating in their community soon, while those living in Woodward hope to experience a seamless continuation of hospital services during an operational transition later this year. [NonDoc]

Criminal Justice News

Criminal justice advocate appointed to fill vacant county jail trust seat: Oklahoma County added a local criminal justice expert to be the newest member of the county jail trust. [The Oklahoman]

77-acre plot of land offered for free to Oklahoma County for new jail site: Oklahoma County has seven more locations — including one offered for free — to consider as spots where it could build a new county jail. [The Oklahoman]

Authorities probe potential BTK killer crimes in Oklahoma, Missouri: Authorities in Oklahoma and Missouri are investigating whether the BTK serial killer was responsible for other homicides, with their search leading them to dig this week near his former Kansas property in Park City. [Journal Record]

  • Oklahoma authorities digging up BTK property in search for cold case clues [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma authorities name the BTK killer as the ‘prime suspect’ in at least two unsolved cases [AP via Public Radio Tulsa]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

New report addresses Oklahoma’s housing crisis: A new legislative report from the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency points to an affordable housing crisis for Oklahoma due to a number of factors, including general market conditions, affordability and demand that outpaces available stock. [KFOR]

Process for development approval ‘more contentious’: Every other week when the Oklahoma City Council meets, it’s a good bet the agenda will include requests for rezoning and site plan approvals for new residential, commercial or mixed-use developments.If nearby property owners are upset about the proposed development, they also will be there to lodge their complaints. [Journal Record]

Young professionals priced out of the inadequate Edmond housing market: During a recent Edmond City Council meeting that revealed a study showing unattainable home prices in our community, some residents shared concerns that their property values and life accomplishments might be lessened if the council were to pursue efforts to create more affordable and sustainable housing solutions. [NonDoc]

Economy & Business News

OKC construction is booming despite interest rates, labor costs: Rising labor and interest costs are stalling developments both locally and nationwide, but the construction cranes hovering over downtown Oklahoma City tell a very different story. [The Oklahoman]

Education News

Tulsa school board accepts Gist’s resignation, names Johnson interim superintendent: The Tulsa Public Schools’ Board of Education formally accepted the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist during a special meeting Wednesday, a day before the State Board of Education will decide the fate of TPS’s accreditation status. [KOSU]

  • Tulsa awaits fate of school system; Gist heads for exit [Journal Record]
  • Resignation of Tulsa’s school superintendent draws mixed reactions of outrage, optimism [The Oklahoman]

Schools could be getting millions more from Medicaid. Why aren’t they?: In May, the public health insurance program announced new guidance that has the potential to massively expand payments for healthcare in schools — but only if schools and states step up. [KOSU]

Virtual Charter Academy earns accreditation: The Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy has earned a second system accreditation by Cognia, a nonprofit organization that provides quality assurance for schools, school districts, and education service providers. [Journal Record]

Education Watch: OSSM Hires Former Mount St. Mary’s Principal: A newly hired executive assistant at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics comes from another school accused of ignoring sexual harassment complaints. [Oklahoma Watch]

Bans on diverse picture books? Young kids need to see their families represented, experts say: Efforts to ban books have been surging at school and public libraries. Of the bans targeting picture books, about three-quarters are books that address LGBTQ+ themes and roughly half are stories that mention race, said Kasey Meehan, Freedom to Read program director at PEN America. [AP via Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • What the removal of a highway could mean for Black Wall Street in Tulsa [KOSU]
  • OKC asks for opinions, input on bikewalkokc plan [Journal Record]
  • ‘Norman is going to be a boomtown’ awash in SEC opportunity [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“Before we start looking at cutting our revenue, we need to say — what’s our expenses for next year, what’s going to happen going forward. We are still in uncertain times as far as our economy.”

– Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, on Gov. Stitt’s renewed push for another special session to eliminate the grocery tax and lower the personal income tax. [News 9]

Number of the Day


National rate of rent growth from 2017 to 2023. Analysis showed that four communities that introduced more flexible zoning saw substantially lower rent increases during that period, as well as an increase in the overall number of homes being built. [Pew Research]

Policy Note

First American City to Tame Inflation Owes Its Success to Affordable Housing: In May, the Twin Cities became the first major metropolitan area to see annual inflation fall below the Federal Reserve’s target of 2%. That’s largely due to a region-wide push to address one of the most intractable issues for both the Fed and American consumers: rising housing costs. Well before pandemic-related supply-chain snarls and labor shortages roiled the economy, the city of Minneapolis eliminated zoning that allowed only single-family homes and since 2018 has invested $320 million for rental assistance and subsidies. [MSNBC]

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Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.

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