In The Know: Wage gaps for women; Tulsa unveils new plan to welcome, support immigrants…

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

New data: Wage, executive gaps still exist for women: Tamara Harvell of Tulsa was working a full-time writing center position and a part-time lab adjunct position at a Tulsa college when she was asked to be part of a proposed reading lab at the institution. With a passion for helping students read and write well, she jumped at the chance but was told the new position would be an extension of her writing center position. “I was told I would be paid the same amount as my part-time hourly salary,” she said. “I was doing additional paperwork and extra work with students. I found out through the grapevine that a gentleman who also worked at the reading lab part-time was getting an adjunct salary while I was only getting hourly pay.” [Journal Record]

‘It’s a matter of getting them connected’: Tulsa to unveil plan to welcome, support immigrants: The city of Tulsa on Thursday will unveil a comprehensive plan to welcome and support new immigrants to the community. The New Tulsans Welcoming Plan provides an outline for how the city intends to help improve immigrants’ lives in five key areas: civic engagement, economic development, education, health and public safety. [Tulsa World]

TPS research into high school experience shows inequities, opportunities for improvement: Tulsa high school students feel unsafe at school and burdened by systemic education inequalities and are worried about the public’s perception of their schools, according to Tulsa Public Schools documents. TPS teenagers also want more rigorous and relevant real-life lessons in their classrooms. While students spoke of how good teachers had positively changed their lives, teachers aren’t always focused on building relationships with them, according to the documents. [Tulsa World]

Prosperity Policy: Oklahomans left behind: The news for Oklahoma was mixed – but mostly discouraging – from the annual reports on poverty and health insurance released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau. The good news is that the state’s poverty rate fell to 15.8 percent in 2017 from 16.3 percent the year before. A family of four making less than $24,600 is defined as living in poverty. Yet Oklahoma lags behind the nation in our efforts to help families get ahead, and the gap grew again last year. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

Pauls Valley hospital to keep going, for now, on donations: The Pauls Valley Regional Medical Center will stay open, at least for now, but the hospital still faces high financial hurdles. Frank Avignone, the hospital’s CEO, said it raised enough through donations to make payroll this week. Most of the money came through pledges on the hospital’s Facebook page, though donors also gave small amounts through GoFundMe. [NewsOK]

After election defeat, district attorney gave significant pay raises to numerous employees: A northeastern Oklahoma district attorney gave tens of thousands of dollars in raises to at least a dozen members of his staff following his defeat in the Republican primary election this summer, according to payroll records reviewed by The Frontier. Payroll records from the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Council show that Judicial District 10 (Osage and Pawnee counties) District Attorney Rex Duncan approved significant increases to the salaries of at least 12 staff members — some of whom received raises of around 60 percent between June and July. [The Frontier]

‘In One Minute’ video: State Question 794, on crime victims’ rights: Oklahomans will vote on five state questions on Nov. 6, including State Question 794, a proposed constitutional amendment that would reinforce and extend crime victims’ rights. In this short video, find out the basic elements and a few pros and cons about the measure. [Oklahoma Watch] Find background information, arguments against and in favor of, and ballot language on our SQ 794 fact sheet. [OK Policy]

State chamber airs concerns about lawsuits involving medical marijuana: Lawmakers were told Wednesday that recent voter approval of medical marijuana has created uncertainty in the workplace. Voters on June 26 approved State Question 788. The legislative medical marijuana working group held is ninth meeting on Wednesday in the Capitol. It heard from Fred Morgan, president and CEO of the State Chamber. [Tulsa World]

Pro-medical marijuana attorney calls some proposed Tulsa zoning regulations ‘brilliant’ and others ‘reefer madness’ overreach: An Indian Nations Council of Governments official who presented a draft of medical marijuana zoning code amendments calls the restrictions “pretty reasonable,” noting the local effects of such a new industry in Tulsa are unknown. A Tulsa attorney representing a pro-medicinal cannabis group applauded aspects of the proposal but cited regulatory overreach in other areas that he attributed to “reefer madness.” [Tulsa World]

Lawmakers take stock of Oklahoma work-based learning efforts: Oklahoma is trying to get more people into work-based learning like apprenticeships, and an interim study reviewed aspects of that work. The “Earn and Learn Oklahoma” program targets low-income residents and out-of-school youth for training and connection to apprenticeships and internships. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Gov. Fallin to reveal new health care plan for veterans: On Thursday, Governor Mary Fallin will reveal the results of a two-year study that could change the way veterans throughout the nation receive medical and mental health care. The study recommends shifting much of veteran’s care from the federal level to the state level. And if the recommendations in it are adopted, it could change the way veterans receive care. [News9]

Bringing back the assembly line: Oklahoma’s work ethic, incentives could restart auto manufacturing, observers say: Some economic development observers said Oklahoma has the ingredients to bring back vehicle assembly lines. They say the state’s people have the work ethic and the necessary incentives to support that industry. This year’s Senate Bill 1585 bill provides tax credits for auto manufacturing companies that want to set up shop in the state. [Journal Record]

Search for licensed commercial drivers in overdrive: As commercial driver’s license test waitlists lengthen and demand for those drivers continues to grow, Oklahoma officials are ramping up their search for solutions. Two lawmakers said their constituents have been raising concerns about those waits, which can span several weeks and force applicants to drive hundreds of miles to take them more quickly. [Journal Record ????]

Feds accused of stacking deck for Chickasaw gaming empire: Along the Old Chisholm Trail, it’s not cattle crossing the Red River these days but two-legged Texans driving north on U.S. 81 to try their luck at Oklahoma’s tribal casinos. Move over Zane Grey, a new Western’s in town: a tangled tale of money and politics that reaches well beyond Oklahoma into Texas and Congress itself. What triggered this fight is a new Red River Chickasaw casino, which Interior approved last year with no notice to the Comanche, whose ancestral lands are just miles away. [Politico]

Quote of the Day

“With the exception of the Native Americans, everybody that lives here in the Tulsa community, either themselves or their ancestors, came to the United States and were immigrants. What I am asking them (Tulsans) to think about is, how would you have wanted your ancestors to be treated in whatever city they landed in?”

-Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, speaking about his administration’s New Tulsans Welcoming Plan to help improve immigrants’ lives in civic engagement, economic development, education, health and public safety [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Days of lost instruction due to out-of-school suspension of Latino students in Oklahoma, per 100 students (2015-16). The national average for Latino students was 17 days.


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Americans want to believe jobs are the solution to poverty. They’re not: In recent decades, the nation’s tremendous economic growth has not led to broad social uplift. Economists call it the “productivity-pay gap” — the fact that over the last 40 years, the economy has expanded and corporate profits have risen, but real wages have remained flat for workers without a college education. Since 1973, American productivity has increased by 77 percent, while hourly pay has grown by only 12 percent. If the federal minimum wage tracked productivity, it would be more than $20 an hour, not today’s poverty wage of $7.25. [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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