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Today In The News

DHS announces they will not have to cut programs for seniors and those with disabilities: The Department of Human Services says they will not have to cut programs next month after funding was approved for the agency. DHS had previously stated they would begin eliminating service programs for seniors and people with disabilities beginning Dec. 1 if they did not receive more funding. Lawmakers sent a budget package last week to Governor Mary Fallin, who vetoed a large portion but kept in take funding for several agencies. DHS Director Ed Lake says the agency will receive $26.9 million in short-term funding from the bill [Fox 25].

Fallin’s three executive orders seek efficiency in #oklaed, higher ed, ‘swag’: Gov. Mary Fallin issued three executive orders this afternoon aimed at promoting the efficient use of state funds and said she will provide a date next week for a second special session. The executive orders (embedded below) follow Fallin’s veto of a majority of HB 1019 on Friday night, hours after the House and Senate had each adjourned sine die. The bill was the Legislature’s revised general appropriations bill, and the portions she left in place provided funding for the beleaguered health care agencies that had been the focus of the year’s first special session [NonDoc].

Fallin’s exec orders could woo revenue stragglers: Gov. Mary Fallin signed executive orders Tuesday that could force consolidation of some K-12 public school and university administrations. She also signed an order that limits agencies from spending a total of $10 million per year on promotional items that aren’t part of their core missions. Her cost-cutting move, just days after vetoing most of the Legislature’s special session budget bill, could end up swaying some of the more conservative lawmakers who opposed raising revenue [NewsOK].

Lawmakers not sure budget fix can be found: Some lawmakers are skeptical that a second special session will be enough incentive to prompt the Legislature to solve any of the big budget conundrums that have already eluded them for weeks. “After eight weeks of special session … I don’t think anything’s going to change,” said state Rep. David Perryman, D-Chickasha. “It’s not going to change during the next regular session (in February). We’re too close to the 2018 elections at that point. “ The Republican-controlled Legislature already has met in special session for nearly two months, trying to draft a new budget agreement to fill a $215 million hole [CNHI].Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session, updated regularly [OK Policy].

Small business group spends six figures in Oklahoma to pressure Lankford on tax reform: A small business group has targeted U.S. Sen. James Lankford with television ads in Oklahoma City and Tulsa in hopes of steering him away from a tax reform bill. Businesses for Responsible Tax Reform says it has spent more than $100,000 to pressure Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, into voting against Republican attempts at tax cuts [NewsOK]. How Oklahomans would fare under the Congressional GOP tax plan [OK Policy].

Faced with losing teachers, Oklahoma school converts to a charter: Like many public schools across the state the Millwood public school district has relied on a growing number of emergency certified teachers due to a growing shortage of traditionally trained educators. But as the school system faced the prospect of losing dozens of its emergency certified teachers who had failed to pass a teaching test within the state-required two year window, the elementary and middle schools were changed to charter conversion schools, giving the district an exemption from some teacher hiring policies [NewsOK].

Have opioid overdoses in Tulsa peaked? First-responder treatment in metro on pace to be down after skyrocketing: For the first time since state law expanded use of a rescue drug for opioid overdoses four years ago, the number of treatments by first responders is on pace to be down this year. Last year, EMSA medics administered naloxone, which goes by the brand name Narcan, 970 times to patients who had overdosed on opioids such as OxyContin, hydrocodone, Vicodin and heroin in the Tulsa metro. The number had dropped to 694 treatments through September this year, according to figures provided by EMSA spokeswoman Kelli Bruer [Tulsa World].

Cathy Costello to focus on mental health in workplace if elected to Labor Commission: It has been more than two years since Labor Commissioner Mark Costello died, having been stabbed to death by his mentally ill son Christian at a local ice cream parlor. And despite the horror and grief that befell the Costello family since that time – Commissioner Costello having died in his wife Cathy’s arms – this widow, who is optimistic and forward-thinking by nature, believes she is the best person to steer the Department of Labor in a positive direction, while making mental health advocacy a key part of her role, if she is elected in November 2018 [Red Dirt Report].

It’s not a sin to be a Dreamer: As an academic in the North American academy, I run into those impacted by the Dream Act every semester. This semester, I have a couple of Latin American Dreamers in my courses, which had led to my growing interest in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy aka the Dream Act. Is America the “land of opportunity”? Are “rags to riches” stories possible only in America? [Nyla Ali Khan / Red Dirt Report]. Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy].

Transgender professor awarded $1.1M after school denied her tenure and fired her: A jury has awarded a transgender professor $1.1 million after she accused her employer of discrimination. Dr. Rachel Tudor, a professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University from 2004 to 2011, accused the school in 2010 of subjecting her to sex discrimination “when it denied her application for promotion and tenure during the 2009-10 academic year,” according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2015. Tudor later joined the lawsuit [ABC News].

Quote of the Day

“I didn’t ask to get old. … I was really hurt and disappointed because they seemed to fool around so much on the budget and they left us to the last.”

– Bob Hooker, a resident at Village at Oakwood Assisted Living Center in Oklahoma City, which receives most of its funding from the Department of Human Services. The facility’s funding was threatened by the budget shortfall (Source)

Number of the Day

11,134

Jail admissions per 100,000 residents age 15-64 in Oklahoma in 2015, up from a low of 6,163 in 1998

Source: Vera Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

To Stop The Cycle Of Poverty, We Need To Invest In Mothers: Traveling back to New Orleans, my birthplace and where I spent all of my years growing up, always brings me to a realization that, while change is happening in this great city, time seems to stand still for those who need change the most. It’s an area where ― although measures are being put in place for some to thrive ― families living in poverty continue to yearn for the basic necessities of life: a quality education, safe communities, affordable housing and the means by which one can attain all three. Standing at the root of these families is typically a woman [Huffington Post].

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