In The Know: Women hold top 2 spots in Oklahoma Republican Party for first time in state history

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

Women hold top 2 spots in Oklahoma Republican Party for first time in state history: Longtime GOP activist Pam Pollard was elected chairwoman Sunday during a state committee meeting to fill the remainder of the term of former state Sen. Randy Brogdon, who resigned last month. Pollard defeated Estela Hernandez, who will remain vice chair, and Robert Hubbard of Yukon. It is the first time a woman has been elected to lead the state GOP in more than two decades, and the first time women held the chair and vice chair positions at the same time, Pollard said [Claremore Daily Progress].

Why the wealth of college-educated minorities is especially vulnerable: The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis recently issued a report that highlighted the effect of higher education on wealth protection during times of economic difficulty. The report found that white and Asian families headed by a four-year college graduate maintained their wealth better than their counterparts without a college degree, but black and Hispanic families headed by someone with a college degree did significantly worse than those without degrees, losing more of their wealth during the Great Recession [OK Policy].

Falling revenues continue to plague Oklahoma’s budget: September collections of $544.1 million were $4.8 million, or 0.9 percent, below estimates, and $16.9 million, or 3 percent, below prior year collections. Total collections for the first quarter of the 2016 fiscal year were $1.4 billion, which is $4.4 million, or 0.3 percent, below the official estimate and $12.3 million, or 0.9 percent, below prior year collections [NewsOK]. Oklahoma could be headed for a “revenue failure” that would mean means automatic budget reductions across state agencies [OK Policy].

[VIDEO] Oklahoma struggles with education funding issues: Oklahoma’s economic forecast has state educators concerned about what impact declining revenue will have on common education. OU President David Boren says it is imperative that Oklahoma voters take action to insure education is properly funded by approving a one-cent tax hike. If Oklahoma voters agree to his proposal it won’t come soon enough to protect education during next year’s budget negotiations [OETA].

David Boren: Oklahoma is facing one of its largest crises: Stories this week in The Oklahoman warned that Oklahoma faces a shortage of skilled workers, which threatens our economic future. Jobs and higher incomes for Oklahomans are at stake. Oklahoma cannot succeed in economic development as long as we rank at the bottom in education. Our failure to invest in education will inevitably lead to economic decline [David Boren / NewsOK].

Tulsa Public Schools shifts hiring focus to support positions: After successfully working to ensure the school year began with a teacher in every classroom, Tulsa Public Schools has shifted its hiring focus to filling vacant support positions. District officials say they are now working to fill about 100 vacant positions in the child nutrition, transportation and operations departments [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma’s education lottery hits the decade mark: It was on Oct. 12, 2005, that the state began selling scratch-off tickets, slightly less than a year since voters approved the creation of a lottery to help raise additional funds for education. Those who campaigned in favor of the lottery suggested it might generate as much as $300 million annually for education. That turned out to be far in excess of the lottery’s true earning potential [NewsOn6]. The education funding boost from the lottery is far less than what has been cut from other revenue sources in recent years [OK Policy].

How Oklahoma City declared war on obesity—and what’s happened since: When Velveth Monterroso arrived in the USA from her hometown in Guatemala, she weighed exactly 140 pounds. But after a decade of living in Oklahoma, she was more than 70 pounds heavier and fighting diabetes at the age of 34. This friendly woman, a mother of two children, is a living embodiment of the obesity culture cursing the world’s wealthiest country. “In Guatemala it is rare to see people who are very overweight, but it could not be more different here,” she said. “I saw this when I came here” [Gizmodo].

Oklahoma City Council selects convention center location: The Oklahoma City Council voted Tuesday to build the $287 million MAPS 3 convention center south of Chesapeake Energy Arena. The vote ends a three-month analysis of competing downtown sites and authorizes the city manager to begin buying property. Acquiring property will exceed the $13 million originally set aside for convention center land but council members were determined to stay within the project’s overall budget, said Cathy O’Connor, executive director of the Urban Renewal Authority [NewsOK].

Oklahoma City Council rejects call to observe Indigenous Peoples Day: The Oklahoma City Council voted 5-4 Tuesday against establishing an annual observance of Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October. Before voting, the council listened for 90 minutes to about 25 speakers, all of whom supported the measure. The council rejected the same proposal on a 4-4 tie two weeks ago. Many speakers said the observance should be timed to coincide with the annual federal Columbus Day holiday, marked each October [NewsOK].

Corrections board member resigns, wife’s prosecutorial role questioned: An Oklahoma Board of Corrections member submitted his resignation letter to Gov. Mary Fallin’s office Tuesday because his wife heads up the Oklahoma multicounty grand jury that is expected to hear testimony about Oklahoma’s recent string of controversial executions. James Matthew Tilly is married to Megan Tilly, an assistant attorney general who was named chief of Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s multicounty grand jury unit in January 2013. Mr. Tilly’s resignation, however, may not alter the nature of Mrs. Tilly’s potential conflict because her investigation centers around actions that occurred while her husband was serving on the board [NonDoc].

Oklahoma attorney general asks federal court for further secrecy in lethal injection lawsuit: Oklahoma’s attorney general is asking for permission to disclose information in a lethal injection lawsuit to the judge but not to attorneys for death row inmates. Why the state is asking for the secrecy is a mystery. Oklahoma law protects the identities of state and private employees who participate in executions. The names of everyone from the physician and officers in the execution chamber to the provider of the lethal drugs is a state secret [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“In short, our state faces one of its greatest crises. Our failure to invest in education will inevitably lead to economic decline. Businesses demand a skilled and educated workforce. Business leaders insist on good public schools for their own children to attend. Entrepreneurs need an expanding research base at comprehensive universities as a springboard for growth. We now rank 49th in the nation in funding per student.”

-University of Oklahoma President David Boren, writing about why he is pushing a ballot initiative for a 1 percent statewide sales tax increase to fund education (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of farms in Oklahoma with a Native American operator, the most of any state except Arizona.

Source: 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Houston just dramatically improved its mass transit system without spending a dime: While it’s fun to write about bad transit projects, it’s also nice to see that sometimes great transit projects get put into place. The recent “reimagining” of Houston’s bus network — officially implemented on August 17 — is a great example of doing things the right way, drastically increasing the utility of the city’s bus fleet for most people without incurring any increase in operating costs [Vox].

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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