In The Know: Federal takeover feared for underfunded corrections system

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

Federal takeover feared for underfunded corrections system: Cash-strapped lawmakers now face a mounting tab to fund necessary repairs and improvements they’ve been delaying for years. If lawmakers can’t find an extra $1 billion in funding, officials say the safety of inmates and guards remains at risk. And the state’s correction infrastructure will continue to crumble, jeopardizing public safety. [CNHI] Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy]

Cutting into roads and bridges: In 2006, the County Improve­ments for Roads and Bridges program was established to help address needs, but recent action by Gov. Mary Fallin involves diverting $130 million from the fund — a move officials say will impact roads and bridges in Garfield County and across the state. [Enid News

State Department of Health to lay off employees: Dozens of employees at the Oklahoma State Department of Health were handed their walking papers Friday. According to a statement released by the department Friday afternoon, “The 37 positions eliminated today include unclassified employees at both the OSDH central office as well as county health departments across the state.” [Fox25]

Hourglass draining quickly for revenue collections: If lawmakers approve and Fallin signs a revenue measure – such as tax increases on cigarettes, motor fuels or gas production, which they pitched during both legislative sessions that have taken place this year – the government will have to wait 90 days before collecting it. If that happens in late December, the soonest it can, collections won’t begin until April. That leaves the state three months to collect nearly $111 million in new revenue. [Journal Record] Revenue options for a better budget [OK Policy]

Lawmakers have mixed reactions to second special session: Oklahomans will pay for lawmakers to go back to work, amounting thousands of dollars a day so they can fix a budget crisis. Gov. Mary Falllin set a date Thursday for the second special session, which will start one week before Christmas. Will lawmakers and the governor will be able to agree on a budget? [KOCO] Sequel Session [Enid News] Vetoed budget wa a squandered opportunity of massive proportions [OK Policy]

Commission considers soliciting bids from private auditing firms: A new committee intended to help make state government more efficient and cost-effective could cost taxpayers more money and duplicate existing resources, the state’s auditor warned this week. In an effort to eliminate waste and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, the Legislature tasked the Agency Performance and Accountability Commission with selecting an auditing company to conduct a series of performance reviews of the Top 20 appropriated state agencies. [CNHI]

Understanding unemployment: Tulsa County’s unemployment rate has dropped dramatically in the last seven years. Most would view that drop as an absolutely positive indicator of the economy. But for some local work force development professionals, the rate is a red flag. And the more the rate dips, the more their concern grows. [Tulsa World]

The 2018 legislative process has begun: Today is the deadline to make a request for drafting of a bill to be introduced in the next legislative session. For those actively involved, including members of the Legislature, the governor, state agencies, schools, interest groups, businesses and others, this means the 2018 legislative process has begun. [Steve Lewis/OK Policy]

Tax plan would impact students, those paying student loans: The tax plans passed by the House and Senate have been criticized by Democrats as disproportionately damaging to the poor and middle classes while providing tax cuts to the rich. The plans could hurt students and those paying student loans, as well. [Editorial Board/Norman Transcript] Congressional tax plan would take Oklahoma’s budget mess national  [OK Policy]

Oklahoma recovery program comes under scrutiny after death, fires: Set on a private goat farm in the woods near the Neosho River, Faith Based Therapeutic Community Corporation is one of numerous unlicensed recovery programs in Oklahoma that operate completely outside the boundaries of state regulation. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City police officer who shot and killed deaf man will not be charged: Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said in a news conference Friday that Sgt. Chris Barnes acted in self-defense when he shot Magdiel Sanchez five times in front of his home in southeast Oklahoma City. On Sept. 19, police officers were investigating a hit-and-run crash at SE 57th and Shields. Sanchez’s father was driving a truck involved in the wreck, and he fled the scene. [Fox25] Strategies for Building Trust Between Law Enforcement and Communities in Oklahoma [OK Policy]

Long-time Margaret Hudson nurse starts a nonprofit to give teen moms a home: The Margaret Hudson Program was an education nonprofit for pregnant and teen mothers operating in Tulsa and Broken Arrow for nearly 50 years. It closed earlier this year amid financial hardships. [Ginnie Graham/Tulsa World] Increasing Access to Long-acting Reversible Contraception Brings Lasting Gains for Oklahoma Women and Girls [OK Policy]

Americans and charities: When hearts and wallets don’t match: This is a story about two recent surveys. In one, conducted by the World Giving Index and published by the Charities Aid Foundation, Americans were found to be among the most charitable people in the world. So how does that square with another survey, conducted by RBC Wealth Management in 2016, that found most Americans say donating to charity is important to them but only one in four contribute consistently throughout the year? [Journal Record]

Restore state support for higher education: While the State Regents’ Task Force on the Future of Higher Education works to strengthen higher education tomorrow, our public institutions strive to serve students today with state appropriations reduced below 2001 levels. Appropriations to public higher education were cut more than $157 million in 2016 and another $36.4 million in 2017. [Chancellor Glen D. Johnson/The Oklahoman] Oklahoma already led the nation in cuts to K-12 education. Now we lead in cuts to higher ed too. [OK Policy]

Quote of the Day

“Our position is every area of the state should have an infrastructure that’s safe and secure, both for its citizens and any sort of economic activity that would be generated within a specific area. That’s why it’s so discouraging to see (them) take the opportunity to take a fund that was doing so much good, and designed to really jumpstart some of these rural areas that are losing population, and losing tax base. That is going to have long-lasting effect. You can’t divert $230 million and not have some sort of effect in the areas it was designed to go to.”

– Gene Wallace, Executive Director of the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, speaking about the diversion of money from the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges program to fill holes in the state budget. $130 million was diverted from the fund just this year (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of households in Oklahoma with limited English-speaking ability.

Source: American Community Survey

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Groundbreaking empirical research shows where innovation really comes from: Gaps in opportunity for talented kids with low socioeconomic status don’t just hold back poor, female, black, or Latino children as individuals — they also impose potentially enormous losses to society as a whole. That’s the conclusion of groundbreaking empirical research…They discovered that both an actual ability to invent things and early life exposure to a culture of innovation and opportunity are crucial to driving inventions. Ability itself is, of course, unevenly distributed. But in the United States, so is opportunity — with huge numbers of highly skilled children from unfavorable backgrounds seemingly locked out of pathways to careers as inventors [Vox].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.