In The Know: Walkout continues, setting up ‘very important day’ in the senate

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

Walkout Continues, Setting up ‘Very Important Day’ in the Senate: The fourth day of a statewide teacher walkout and rally produced more calls for increased public school funding and inaction from state lawmakers. However, the day ended with the state Senate announcing it would hear three revenue-raising bills on Friday morning, potentially moving the walkout closer to an end and reopening hundreds of schools across the state [NewsOK]. Oklahoma Senate Leader to striking teachers: Don’t expect more education funding [Governing]. State Funding Crisis and the Teacher Walkout: Resources & Information [OKPolicy].  

Other State Workers Feel Ignored as Teacher Walkout Continues: The Oklahoma teacher walkout and educators’ demands for more school funding dominates the news. It’s unclear if lawmakers are willing to meet those demands and quell daily protests. One lingering question: If schools get more money, what happens to other state agencies and workers who need funding, too? [StateImpact]. Turnover of state workers climbing as their salaries fall further behind [OKPolicy]. 

The real cost of the capital gains deduction could be much more than $100 million, but we have good options for reform: The statute on Oklahoma’s capital gains deduction does allow it to be taken on corporate income. But a footnote in the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s report on tax expenditures explains that, “While some of these deductions and exemptions are available for both corporate and individual income tax filers, aggregate data for corporate filers is not available. The tax expenditure estimates in this report, for deductions and exemptions that are available for both corporate and individual filers, reflect only individual income tax due to the data limitation.” In other words, corporations can claim the capital gains deduction, but we have no idea how much that part of the tax break is costing the state [OKPolicy].

Question looms at the capitol: What will it take to end the teacher walkout?: The possibility of a stalemate loomed large over much of the fourth day of the statewide teacher walkout, as the question on everyone’s lips in the Capitol was what could be done to end the walkout once and for all [Tulsa World]. Updated: What’s the status of OEA’s three demands of the Oklahoma legislature? [Tulsa World]. Chanting ‘One day stronger,’ Oklahoma teachers push for revenue bills [Reuters]. 

Top Republicans Say Education Money Is Available: Lawmakers said the budget will be sound without a replacement for a repealed hotel and motel tax and that education is already funded, but they continue to consider and pass revenue measures. Several House Democrats have raised concerns that repealing tax measures out of the revenue package adopted last week will leave a gap in the state’s budget. Top Republicans in each chamber insisted there is not a hole but a surplus because of several new revenue streams and economic growth, which together have increased the amount of money the Legislature can appropriate by $800 million [Journal Record]. The education funding package is a major step forward. There’s more work to do [OKPolicy]. 

Hamilton: Getting Education Funding Right: The Legislature did nothing about the state’s bottom-of-the-barrel teacher salaries or the nation’s deepest education budget cuts until teachers set a strike date. Once the job action was imminent, lawmakers rushed through a $6,100 pay raise clearly aimed at averting the public relations nightmare of closed schools and a Capitol jammed with protesters. With no end to the walkout in sight, defensive legislators are left to argue they approved the state’s largest teacher pay raise ever – hoping to persuade voters that educators are unrealistic at best, ingrates at worst [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record].

Amid Education Funding Talks, Oklahoma Lottery Says Its Contributions Are Up: With the minds of many Oklahoma citizens focused on education funding, the Oklahoma Lottery Commission took time Wednesday to say it’s not to blame for sagging school budgets. Lottery sales have increased 40 percent since last July, the commission said in a news release. Sales of instant games, its best-selling product, are drastically outpacing sales from a year ago [NewsOK]. Why didn’t the lottery solve Oklahoma’s education funding problems? [OKPolicy].

Teachers Say Pay Is Important, but Issues Facing the Profession Go Deeper: Boosting teacher pay by an average of $6,000 – which the Legislature approved last week –wasn’t enough to put the brakes on a massive shutdown of schools to rally at the state Capitol. But could the pay package, which passed by a narrow margin in the generally tax-averse Legislature, turn the tide on the state’s teacher shortage? The problems facing teachers and the teaching profession are myriad, but, like so many things in state government, they boil down to money – how much there is for teachers, support staff and for schools in general [Journal Record]. Cuts are hitting all aspects of public education [OKPolicy].

News 4 Sits down with Governor Fallin to Discuss the Teacher Walkout: A teacher walkout with no end in sight. Educators and supporters are demanding more money for the classroom. Last week, Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill increasing teacher pay by an average of around $6,000 – something she believes is a step in the right direction [KFOR]. Verdigris teacher responds to Fallin’s ‘teenager that wants a better car’ comment [FOX23].

Oklahoma Teachers Continue Their 110-Mile March to Capitol: Invigorated by cheers from passersby, donations of pizza and water, and the determination to increase education funding in their state, about 100 Oklahoma teachers on Thursday continued their 110-mile march from Tulsa to the state Capitol. The trek is expected to take a week, including rest stops, and comes during an extraordinary statewide teacher walkout [NBC News].

Senate Treats Protesters like Guests; House Sees Pitchforks and Torches: Although many lawmakers and Oklahoma politicians are meeting with teachers during the walkout this week, several have garnered criticism for closing their offices and canceling committee hearings. For four days, thousands of education supporters have flocked to the Capitol to push for increased funding. Law enforcement officials haven’t finalized crowd size estimates, but access to the building has been closed for most of the week because it was at capacity. Troopers rode the elevators to prevent residents from going to each higher floor, which had met their own capacities. Outside, crowds covered the south plaza [Journal Record].

These Oklahoma Teens Are Channeling the Parkland Student Movement to Demand Better School Funding: On stage Wednesday before the steps of the Oklahoma state Capitol building, in front of thousands of teachers, parents, and kids like them, 14 students from schools surrounding Oklahoma City took the stage to demand a better life for them and their teachers. It was these kids’ momentum that came to forefront Wednesday in what’s previously been a largely teacher-driven movement in Oklahoma to protest for better education funding [Mother Jones].

Oklahoma Superintendent Shares Personal Battle Regarding Educational Funding: After spending three days with lawmakers, some educators spoke at the podium to send a clear message about education funding. On Wednesday, an Oklahoma school superintendent’s speech pulled at the heartstrings of many in the crowd. Sallisaw Schools Superintendent Scott Farmer said he was forced to make a difficult choice: buy new text books for the district or get Braille lessons for a 7-year-old student [KFOR]. Coaches play key role in oklahoma teacher walkout [Forbes].

OU’s New President Jim Gallogly: Facts You Didn’t Know: The naming of a retired energy executive as the University of Oklahoma’s 14th president caught many observers by surprise. The assortment of names that had been bandied about publicly for months did not include James L. Gallogly, the 65-year-old former chairman and chief executive officer of LyondellBasell, a multinational plastics, chemical and refining company [NonDoc].

Study Finds Many Oklahoma Public High School Students Graduated Unprepared for College: Around 40 percent of Oklahoma public high school students graduated unprepared for college-level classes in 2016, a new report shows. Of the fall 2016 first-time freshmen in Oklahoma public schools, 40.5 percent enrolled in one or more developmental courses in college, according to an Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education survey [OUDaily].

Marsy’s Law Is Well-Intentioned, but Be Wary of Unintended Consequences: SQ 794, the Crime Victim Rights Amendment, will be on Oklahoma’s general election ballot on Nov. 6th, 2018. Proponents of the ballot measure, which is commonly known as Marsy’s Law, aim to give crime victims more say in the justice process. Marsy’s Law has already been adopted in several other states, and while the idea is broadly popular, it can bring significant challenges that Oklahomans should consider. While there may be value in creating further protections for crime victims, SQ 794 fails to address two major issues plaguing Marsy’s Law in other states: inadequate funding and questionable constitutionality [OKPolicy].

Oklahoma Governor Names Judge Richard Darby to Supreme Court: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has appointed state District Judge Richard Darby to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court. Darby, who’s been a judge in Oklahoma for more than 30 years, was named Thursday to succeed former Justice Joseph Watt, who retired last year. Darby, of Altus, has served as a district judge in Jackson, Kiowa, Tillman, Greer and Harmon counties since 1994. Before that, he served as a special judge and an associate district judge in Jackson County [AP News].

Research by Oklahoma Scientists Could Lead to New Obesity Drug: At 32.8 percent, Oklahoma has one of the highest obesity rates in the nation, But, scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation say their work could lead to new treatment options for the disease. “My aim will be to have something to treat obesity,” said biochemist Deepa Sathyaseelan, the lead researcher on a study in the peer-reviewed journal EMBO Reports. She hopes that developing a drug for obesity will prevent chronic diseases like Type II diabetes [KOSU]. 

Quote of the Day

“Well, actually, Mary, we do want a better car. The one you have us currently driving was given to us in 1980. It’s never had the oil changed, tires rotated, filters changed, or engine checked. We’ve patiently waited for a tune-up, car wash, or even just a little air freshener to dangle from our mirror. Since we got the ‘new car’ 38 years ago, it’s been driven without regular maintenance. We’ve essentially been given the message to drive it ‘til the wheels fall off.”

– Pam Cook, a 5th grade teacher at Verdigris Elementary School, responding to recent comments by Governor Mary Fallin likening teachers to a “teenage kid that want a better car” [Source]

Number of the Day


How much violent crime rates have decreased in Oklahoma City since 1980.

Source: The Marshall Project

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

As Trump Targets Immigrants, Elderly Brace To Lose CaregiversThe country faces a severe shortage in home health aides. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, an even more serious shortfall lies ahead, according to Paul Osterman, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. He predicts a national shortfall of 151,000 direct care workers by 2030, a gap that will grow to 355,000 by 2040. That shortage will escalate if immigrant workers lose work permits, or if other industries raise wages and lure away direct care workers, he said. Nursing homes in Massachusetts are already losing immigrant workers who have left the country in fear, in response to the White House’s public remarks and immigration proposals, Gregorio said [Kaiser Health News].

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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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