In The Know: Tulsa educators consider marching 110 miles to Oklahoma City during teacher walkout

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.

Today In The News

Tulsa educators consider marching to Oklahoma City during teacher walkout: The Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association and Tulsa Public Schools are considering leading a 110-mile march from Tulsa to Oklahoma City in what would be the second week of a potential teacher walkout. A TPS teacher posted a poll on the education activism Facebook group “Oklahoma Teacher Walkout — The Time Is Now!” trying to gauge interest. TPS and TCTA officials confirmed that the post was accurate and said a march is being considered [Tulsa World]. Community leaders in Tulsa are hoping to fill the school services gap during the walkout with a coordinated effort [Tulsa World].

Lawmakers Discuss Teacher Pay Raise Plan Featuring Mix of Old, New Ideas: With little time to act, lawmakers are discussing a new plan to keep teachers in the classroom. The new plan takes many of the ideas lawmakers have voted on in the past, but there’s one big difference — increasing the gross production tax to 5 percent [KOCO]. The Majority Floor Leader in the House says it’s still possible to avoid a teacher walkout next month [Tulsa Public Radio]. Oklahoma has many good options to resolve the teacher walkout [OKPolicy]. 

Oklahoma Teachers’ Real Take Home Pay Has Shrunk for 10 out of the past 11 Years: Most of the discussion on teacher pay in Oklahoma compared to other states has focused on the total compensation of teachers, since that’s what is typically used when making comparisons across states. However, in some ways that number actually overstates how Oklahoma’s teachers are faring by combining the take-home salary of teachers with the fringe benefits that pay for teachers’ health insurance [OKPolicy]. As Oklahoma teachers plan to follow West Virginia in walkout, they confront a funding crisis that’s much worse [OKPolicy]. 

Letter: Conflicting Editorials Muddy #OklaEd Insights: Essentially, Sunday’s front page was a signal (or so I thought), a recognition of sorts, that business as usual isn’t going to cut it anymore. Our state is in dire need of repair, and The Oklahoman intends to hold up a mirror to show us how we all have contributed to this and why we must reverse course. I was elated as I read that front page, but my excitement quickly shifted to anger when I flipped through the A-section and landed on the traditional editorial page [Letter to the Editors/NonDoc]. 

Wayne Greene: With the Chances of a Voter-Driven 7 Percent Gross Production Tax Getting Closer, Everything Changes at the Capitol: A Monday ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court could be a game-changer in the negotiations to avoid a statewide teacher strike. The high court gave the go-head for an initiative petition to raise the state’s gross production tax rate to 7 percent for all wells and dedicate the revenue to a $4,000 teacher pay raise. Currently, the tax is 2 percent for the first three years of production and then 7 percent. The tax hike would generate an estimated $340 million a year [Wayne Greene/Tulsa World] Oklahoma should put an end to an unnecessary subsidy to a profitable industry by taxing all production at 7 percent, thereby boosting state revenue collections by over $300 million [OKPolicy].

Prosperity Policy: Punishing the Poor: For the low-income Oklahomans who depend on Medicaid for their health care, this is shaping up to be a very rough legislative session. Oklahoma is one of the unhealthiest states in the nation and has the third-highest rate of residents without health coverage. Among working-age adults, one in five lack insurance. Not coincidentally, we also have one of the most restrictive Medicaid programs. Among working-age adults, only parents with dependent children making less than half of the poverty level are eligible for Medicaid [David Blatt/Journal Record]. Lawmakers’ attacks on health coverage of low-income parents could devastate Oklahoma families [OKPolicy]. 

Guthrie Senator, Known for Work on Children’s Issues, Won’t Seek Re-Election: One of the strongest voices at the state Capitol for Oklahoma’s disadvantaged youths said she won’t seek re-election this year. State Sen. A.J. Griffin announced Wednesday she will take a private-sector job, but will continue to work on similar issues that have been her defining role as chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Human Services [NewsOK].

Bill Proposes Pardons for Older Inmates: Although a bill to create a path out of prison for the state’s most elderly offenders saw little controversy last year, it stalled in the committee process and has been resurrected this year. Senate Bill 919 would create a new parole process for inmates over the age of 60. It would apply to nonviolent criminals who have served either 10 years or one-third of their sentences, whichever comes first. The measure’s authors are bipartisan: Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City [Journal Record].

Bill Would End Capital Gains Exemption: Although it has been off-limits in the past, high-ranking members in the House of Representatives are considering a measure that would eradicate the capital gains exemption. The policy has become controversial over the past few years. The break exempts income that individuals or corporations earn when selling business-related items such as stocks and real estate. The Incentive Review Commission found that it had generated about $9 million in revenue for the state but cost it nearly $475 million. Some progressive organizations had called to end the break, but that gained little traction [Journal Record]. Capital gains deduction is an expensive loophole benefiting a small number of Oklahomans [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma Bill Would Mandate Seat Belt Use by Children: A bill to improve child safety is working its way through the Oklahoma Legislature. House Bill 3026 would require all children under 14 years old to wear a seat belt while riding in the back seat of a vehicle. Currently, there’s no law requiring children between the ages of 8 and 13 to buckle up in the back seat. This bill would close that gap [KTEN]. 

OK Senate Advances Bill Changing Vehicle Tag Law: The Oklahoma Senate has passed a bill to fix a problem that costs the state millions of dollars a year, much of which should be going to help fund education. Oklahoma is one of only eight states where a license plate stays with the vehicle, rather than the original owner, when it’s sold. Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicle and Parts Commissioner Terry Shreve tells KRMG his conservative estimate is that the practice costs the state between $35 and $40 million a year in sales tax, excise tax, and registration fees [KRMG].

Will Oklahoma Voters Amend Victims’ Rights in the State Constitution? a National Campaign Hopes So: A nationwide campaign that has spent millions of dollars promoting initiatives for victims’ rights is aiming to put down roots in Oklahoma as it pours thousands of dollars into the state to promote the proposal before November’s ballot. State Question 794, known as Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma, is a proposed state constitutional amendment that would guarantee victims a broad range of rights, including the right to participate in parole hearings and be informed of hearing dates [The Frontier].

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Owes Money to Unknown Entity: The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry owes about $55,000 to another state agency, but Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese says administrators have not been able to determine which agency is supposed to receive the money. In November, NonDoc reported that the U.S. Treasury siphoned about $835,000 of federal funding from Oklahoma to resolve what Reese called a “billing dispute” with his agency [NonDoc].

Confederate Monument Removed from Oklahoma Elementary School: A public school district in Oklahoma has removed a monument at an elementary school that was dedicated to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Tulsa Public Schools said the nearly century-old monument was removed and replaced with bricks on Tuesday. A district spokeswoman said “a community partner” covered the cost, and that the Tulsa Historical Society will preserve the monument [AP News].

New Report Shows Sharp Increases in Alzheimer’s Prevalence, Deaths, and Costs of Care in Oklahoma: A new report shows sharp increases in Alzheimer’s prevalence, deaths and costs of care in Oklahoma. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, for the second consecutive year, total payments to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias will surpass a quarter of a trillion dollars – $277 billion – which includes an increase of nearly $20 billion from last year. By 2050, the total cost of care for Alzheimer’s is projected to increase to more than $1.1 trillion [KFOR].

  Quote of the Day

“People mellow as they age. Somebody who committed an armed robbery when he was 22 is much less likely to commit an armed robbery when he’s 62. The purpose of the prison system is to restrain people who pose a threat. If the threat is no longer there, there’s very little reason to keep these inmates behind bars.”

-Andrew Speno, Oklahoma director for Right on Crime, speaking about a bill that would create a new parole process for inmates over the age of 60 [Source].

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma children who had a parent who was ever incarcerated, 12% of all children (2015-16)


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Sons of Rich Black Families Fare No Better Than Sons of Working-Class Whites: Black boys raised in America, even in the wealthiest families and living in some of the most well-to-do neighborhoods, still earn less in adulthood than white boys with similar backgrounds, according to a sweeping new study that traced the lives of millions of children. White boys who grow up rich are likely to remain that way. Black boys raised at the top, however, are more likely to become poor than to stay wealthy in their own adult households [New York Times].

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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.

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