In The Know: Gov. Fallin says she doesn’t approve of agency’s $250K salary offer

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

Oklahoma governor says she doesn’t approve of agency’s $250K salary offer: An Oklahoma agency violated the spirit of a state hiring freeze when it placed a former state official in a newly created job paying $250,000 per year, Gov. Mary Fallin said Thursday. The salary offer from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust amounts to $100,000 more than Fallin herself earns. “This agency needs to play by the same rules it has been playing under until it decided to create a new top-level position with such a high salary,” said Fallin [NewsOK].

Oklahoma tax triggers well-intended, but lack economic sense: A percentage point here, a percentage point there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money. Since 2004, Oklahoma’s top income tax rate, which essentially affects anyone with a job, has dropped by 1.65 percentage points, translating to big savings for taxpayers and (at least right now) a big pain for state revenues. But the tax cutting isn’t necessarily finished, despite the massive revenue shortfalls of recent years [Editorial Board / NewsOK]. While the tax cut does not bear sole or primary responsibility for the state’s current budgetary woes, it is making the problem worse [OK Policy].

Oklahoma City School Board considers banning comment at meetings: A spate of recent outbursts and contentious exchanges has prompted the leader of the Oklahoma City School Board to consider eliminating public participation at meetings, The Oklahoman has learned. Board Chairwoman Lynne Hardin said Thursday she also is considering whether to eliminate board member comment and plans to meet with the panel next month to discuss both options. “To be squabbling over things that don’t add to the meeting, it’s not an effective use of our time,” she said [NewsOK].

Who understands the finer points of state finance? What is it with Oklahoma Republicans and their state school superintendents? In 2012, the GOP knives already were out for then-second year Superintendent Janet Barresi – the most common complaint that she didn’t play well with others. Her first and only term quickly spiraled downward and she was knocked out in the 2014 primary by Joy Hofmeister. Now, Hofmeister, in only her 18th month in office, also has become the target of her party’s powers that be – evidently because she refuses to parrot the statehouse leadership’s spin about their (allegedly) heroic efforts to spare public education from even deeper budget cuts [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record].

Sand Springs, Muskogee among eight school districts suing Oklahoma Tax Commission: A fight over how to distribute motor-vehicle tax collections to school districts has now landed in district court. Eight school districts, including Sand Springs and Muskogee, filed suit this week to try to force the Oklahoma Tax Commission to change the way it has implemented a new law since July 1, 2015 [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma governing boards take up college tuition increases: The governing board for Oklahoma State University will vote on tuition rates and mandatory fees at a meeting Friday morning at OSU-Oklahoma City. …Tuition increases are expected at all institutions following a 15.9 percent cut in state appropriations to higher education. OSU President Burns Hargis said the severe cut requires colleges and universities to make tough decisions regarding tuition [NewsOK].

Oklahoma school’s appeal of $1M student aid repayment denied: The president of an Oklahoma college ordered to repay more than $1 million in federal student loans says he has exhausted all avenues to get the amount reduced. Eastern Oklahoma State College was ordered to repay the money after the U.S. Department of Education reviewed the school’s student aid program in 2014 and then declared the school’s Antlers campus ineligible for federal aid [KRMG].

TEEM executive director: It’s time to re-evaluate Oklahoma corrections policies: The impact of mass incarceration is far-reaching and continues to devastate families and communities across the nation. Since 1980, the federal prison population has grown from roughly 24,000 to 214,000 inmates. The United States now holds the largest prison population in the world. As the incarcerated population is growing expeditiously, prison costs are skyrocketing and hardworking Americans are left to finance it. Behind these statistics are real people [Kris Steele / NewsOK].

Closing doors: DHS studies shutting some county offices: A work group inside the Department of Human Services has met for the past month to discuss closing some of the agency’s 93 county offices. Spokeswoman Sheree Powell said a final decision hasn’t been made on which could be closed or consolidated. The agency might wait until least July 1, when the latest round of voluntary buyouts is finished and DHS knows how many people will be leaving the state service [Journal Record].

Prosecutors want prison time for former Oklahoma lawmaker: A former leader of the Oklahoma Senate should serve more than three years in prison for bribery to send a message that political power does not trump the law, federal prosecutors argued in court documents filed this week. Former Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, a Democrat from Stillwater, is scheduled to be resentenced next week in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City after a federal appeals court found his initial sentence of probation amounted to “little more than a slap on the wrist.” [KOCO]

Despite improvements, Oklahoma’s health insurance marketplace enrollment lags: New national data shows that 90 percent of Americans had health insurance in 2015, due in large part to the Affordable Care Act. Between subsidized coverage and Medicaid expansion, the US uninsured rate is at its lowest recorded level ever. Unfortunately, Oklahoma is missing out: the decline in uninsured rate between 2014 and 2015 in our state was statistically insignificant. This means Oklahomans aren’t realizing the benefits of broad access to health coverage the way other states’s residents are [OK Policy].

DHS makes Summer Cooling assistance available for low-income households: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) will make a limited amount of summer cooling assistance funds available across the state through the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The funds are designed to help low-income households that are extremely vulnerable to summer-heat stresses [KFOR].

Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission shelves controversial payment proposal: The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission on Thursday quickly shelved a controversial proposal to make quarterly rather than weekly payments to owners of Oklahoma-bred horses that finish in the top three at Oklahoma racing meets. The payment change was proposed as a way to save the commission about $7,500 a year during difficult budget times [NewsOK]. 

Fallin Gave Southeast Oklahoma a Seat on Water Board, But Skips Deadline to Fill It: Southeast Oklahoma has many of the state’s largest lakes and rivers and much of the state’s water, but no one from the area serves on the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the state’s water regulator. A 2013 law requires the area to have representation. But, so far, that hasn’t happened [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Quote of the Day

“The problem with tax cut triggers is that they only pull one way — down. When times are good and revenues are flush, they trigger a tax cut. But when hard times return, they don’t trigger a return to the previous rate.”

– The Oklahoman’s Editorial Board, arguing in favor of doing away with triggered tax cuts. One such cut to the top income tax rate could come into effect as soon as January 1, 2018, if not stopped (Source)

Number of the Day


Total number of captive emus in Oklahoma in 2012

Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Old and on the Street: The Graying of America’s Homeless: They lean unsteadily on canes and walkers, or roll along the sidewalks of Skid Row here in beat-up wheelchairs, past soiled sleeping bags, swaying tents and piles of garbage. They wander the streets in tattered winter coats, even in the warmth of spring. They worry about the illnesses of age and how they will approach death without the help of children who long ago drifted from their lives. “It’s harder when you get older,” said Ken Sylvas, 65, who has struggled with alcoholism and has not worked since he was fired in 2001 from a meatpacking job. “I’m in this wheelchair. I had a seizure and was in a convalescent home for two months. I just ride the bus back and forth all night.” [New York Times]

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


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

Leave a Reply

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