In The Know: Governor, Legislature make plans to consider Step Up Oklahoma proposals

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.

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Today In The News

Governor, Legislature make plans to consider Step Up Oklahoma proposals: Gov. Mary Fallin announced Friday that she is amending her call for the Oklahoma Legislature’s second special session to permit lawmakers to consider a series of revenue-raising measures, reforms and teacher pay raise proposals that mirror proposals advocated by a coalition of Oklahoma business and civic leaders. [The Oklahoman] Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy]

Proposed income tax changes offer protections for low wage earners: Fifty-five percent of individuals filing Oklahoma tax returns would experience either a decrease or no change in their state income tax liability under a series of changes to the state’s income tax laws backed by a coalition of Oklahoma business and civic leaders. [The Oklahoman] ‘Step Up’ Coalition adds to the conversation, but plenty of work left to do [OK Policy]

Oklahoma likely to lead the nation in incarceration by 2019 amid ‘limited’ reforms, DOC director says: The number of people sentenced to Oklahoma prisons in 2017 fell slightly, but the state remains second in the nation in overall incarceration and could be ranked first by the end of this year. [Tulsa World] What works to stop crime (hint: it’s not incarceration) [OK Policy]

Oklahoma House gives some staff pay raises amid budget crisis: The Oklahoma House of Representatives is facing criticism after giving several staff members substantial pay raises. The move comes at a time when the legislature is dealing with an estimated $100 million budget shortfall, and several state agencies have gone through funding cuts and layoffs. [Fox25]

Oklahoma teachers continue wait for pay raise a decade after last increase: As another legislative session nears, state lawmakers have again targeted a statewide teacher pay raise as one of the most pressing needs in Oklahoma, where average teacher salaries are near the bottom nationally. [The Oklahoman] Why Oklahoma teachers need a raise, in two charts [OK Policy]

County leadership looks for new collection agency: Cleveland County currently has 8,998 bench warrants active on failure to pay court costs totaling nearly $9.3 million. If those offenders paid even $10 per month, they might be able to avoid jail and the county would be collecting nearly $90,000 more per month for local and state coffers, said Cleveland County Court Clerk Marilyn Williams. [Norman Transcript] Millions of dollars in court debt hang over residents of Oklahoma’s poorest neighborhoods [OK Policy]

Advocates Say Oklahoma Felony Filings Down 26 Percent Since SQ780 Took Effect: According to an analysis from Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, felony filings are down 26 percent since provisions of State Question 780 took effect July 1. ACLU Oklahoma Smart Justice Campaign Manager Nicole McAfee said that change has more impact than you might imagine. [Public Radio Tulsa] Arrests for possession of marijuana spiked in Oklahoma in 2016. What happened? [OK Policy]

Legislature should act on proposed occupational licensing reforms: Lured by the promise of raising state revenue without raising state taxes, the state has allowed a distressing number of occupations to restrict the marketplace through mandated training, testing and licensing requirements. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World] Occupational licensing is a growing barrier to Oklahomans who seek a decent job [OK Policy]

Some teachers to get state bonuses as budget crisis means other education professionals miss out again: Some highly qualified local teachers will get bonuses from the state this month. Some speech pathologists and audiologists won’t. The Tulsa Public Schools board on Tuesday approved accepting the yearly $5,000 stipends for teachers with National Board Certification. The state funding source for those stipends has been untouched by education funding cuts in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Food bank concerned about government shutdown: The last federal shutdown was five years ago, and the community food bank remembers it well. “We were seeing federal workers whose paychecks had gone away suddenly and maybe were on some of the lower paying ends of the federal pay scale, and they needed food,” said Eileen Bradshaw, Executive Director of the Community Food Bank. [KTUL] Furloughs at Tinker possible if federal government shutdown drags on [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma lawmakers need to step up: Those who care about Oklahoma have good reason to be deeply worried about the future of our state. Now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. An informal, bipartisan group of citizen leaders has come up with the “Step Up Oklahoma” plan to close that gap. It would stabilize the state’s income and stop the bleeding. It would allow Oklahoma to start reinvesting in itself to build a better future. [David Boren/The Oklahoman]

Chronic absenteeism one of major problems being studied by state focus group: Oklahoma State Department officials announced on Thursday that in a concerted effort to reduce chronic absenteeism in school, the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has launched a work group to study the problem and recommend potential solutions. The group, which consists of representatives of community nonprofits and education advocacy organizations, held its first meeting this week. [Woodward News]

A former judge’s four steps to improve criminal justice in Oklahoma: Oklahoma leaders are becoming more focused on the need for criminal justice reform. The fear of being labeled “soft on crime” is colliding with the reality of costly and overflowing jails and prisons. [William C. Kellough/Tulsa World] Will interim studies create stronger momentum for justice reform? [OK Policy]

State election officials wait to see if Supreme Court ruling will affect Oklahoma: State election officials are monitoring the U.S. Supreme Court as it weighs whether an Ohio election law — which is stricter but similar to an Oklahoma provision — is constitutional. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“My oldest son loved being around students, went on church mission trips, was a summer sponsor for church camp and volunteer coach; he is the kind of person we need around kids…At 20 years old, teaching became a non-option for him. How many times does that happen?”

– Corey Holland, Assistant Principal of Cache Public Schools, on one of the most difficult to measure effects of low teacher pay in Oklahoma – deterring potential new teachers from pursuing teaching as a career (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of juveniles arrested for possession of marijuana in Oklahoma in 2016, approximately 8.7% of all juvenile arrests in Oklahoma.

Source: Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

You’re Sick. Whose Fault Is That? Many Americans think it’s O.K. to ask people with unhealthy lifestyles to pay higher insurance premiums and deductibles. Efforts to inject more personal responsibility into health care, however, have not consistently been shown to lower costs, improve outcomes or save lives. Effectiveness — or lack of it — is often in the eye of the partisan beholder. [New York Times]

What does it actually mean to take personal responsibility for health?

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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.

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