In The Know: Higher education regents seek $128 million budget increase

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

Higher education regents seek $128 million budget increase: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education will ask the Legislature for a $128 million increase in funding to the state’s colleges and universities. The regents voted Thursday to request $901.9 million for fiscal year 2019, an increase of 16.6 percent over the current fiscal year’s appropriation of $773.6 million. [AP] Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education request funding increase to restore lost faculty, scholarships [The Oklahoman]Higher education funding cuts continue to drive up tuition and threaten college access [OK Policy]

Fallin sets second special session date: Gov. Mary Fallin has called for a second special session of the 2017 Oklahoma Legislature, announcing today that lawmakers will return Monday, Dec. 18. Her press release noted she has not yet filed an executive order for the second special session. [NonDoc] Blue Christmas: Legislature summoned to Capitol for another try [Journal Record] Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy]

Prison population continues to test limits: The state’s prison system as a whole is packed past capacity, but the women’s institutions are even more so. There are about seven times as many men incarcerated in Oklahoma as there are women. But when the Department of Corrections made its budget request for the next fiscal year, officials asked to increase beds by the same amount for each population. Officials recommended building two medium-security facilities with 2,000 beds, one for women and one for men. [Journal Record] Despite warnings, little has been done to ease prison and jail overcrowding [OK Policy]

Oklahoma health care leaders give prognosis: Four Oklahoma health leaders spoke Wednesday night about the state’s health care system at Norman Regional Hospital Education Center. The diagnosis wasn’t good, but they had a prescribed treatment plan for the state. [Norman Transcript] Health care is increasingly central to Oklahoma’s economy [OK Policy]

Funding solution needed to protect state’s future: Gov. Mary Fallin’s next-to-last Yuletide in the mansion is likely to be anything but a holiday. Now that she scheduled the second special session to begin Dec. 18, she’s got to find ways to make it work. Think of it like this: Purchasing the nearly 5-foot-tall castle for your child is easy. Assembling it dang near requires an engineering degree. And more patience than a Middle East peace negotiator. [Arnold Hamilton/Journal Record] Revenue options for a better budget [OK Policy]

Despite opposition, GOP tax plan seems a go: Given the speed at which its 479 pages have careened through Congress, it might be understandable that a lot of Americans don’t comprehend a lot of the Republican tax reform plan. But what they do grasp, they don’t like. [Tahlequah Daily Press] Congressional tax plan would take Oklahoma’s budget mess national [OK Policy]

Oklahoma sees uptick in homelessness, particularly among families: For a second consecutive year, homelessness crept up across Oklahoma, driven in large part by a sharp increase in homeless families with children, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. [The Oklahoma]

The Environmental Scandal in Scott Pruitt’s Backyard: It’s one of the dirtiest places in America. Former residents of Tar Creek, Oklahoma, want to know why Trump’s EPA chief didn’t prosecute allegations of wrongdoing during a federal buyout program. [Politico]

Business, education leaders talk DACA: ‘The fear is unbelievable’: With two dozen Oklahoma stakeholders gathered Wednesday around a table at the Broadway 10 chophouse, congressional field staff and media heard about “the fear” facing families who await congressional action on the United States’ DACA immigration policy, which predominantly affects young immigrants who are students. [NonDoc] Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy]

Norman’s homeless population could face dire consequences if mental health services are cut: 28-year-old Matthew Cole Allen was homeless for around 4.5 years before finding solace in mental health care. Allen, who has borderline personality disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, said his path to recovery began when he was taken in by Transition House, a Norman organization that provides temporary housing and community outreach programs for homeless clients with mental health needs. [OU Daily]

Oklahoma’s urban justice systems are set for big changes. But who will fix rural jails?: Are the issues with our two urban justice systems, as identified by researchers, also present in suburban and rural counties? If so, who will champion local justice reform there? As our urban counties embark on their justice reform efforts, Oklahomans must demand that these issues are also addressed for the majority of citizens who live outside Oklahoma and Tulsa counties. [OK Policy]

Flu numbers continue to rise across Oklahoma: The number of Oklahomans hospitalized from influenza continues to rise across the state. The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports that 24 people have been sent to the hospital for the flu in the past week, bringing the overall total to 135 for the season. The season began September 1. [Fox25]

What Scientists Say A Warming Climate Might Mean For Oklahoma: A new report from hundreds of experts and more than a dozen federal agencies is stark: Humans are likely responsible for the warmest period in modern civilization. The consequences of this warming vary regionally, but scientists and researchers forecast significant effects in Oklahoma and other southern plains states. [StateImpact]

Congress averts shutdown, sends Trump stopgap spending bill: Congress on Thursday passed a stopgap spending bill to prevent a government shutdown this weekend and buy time for challenging talks on a wide range of unfinished business on Capitol Hill. The shutdown reprieve came as all sides issued optimistic takes on an afternoon White House meeting between top congressional leaders and President Donald Trump. [AP] The Government Stays Open—But for How Long? [The Atlantic]

Quote of the Day

“She graduated from Northeastern State University, and she’s very good friends with some of my former students at Oklahoma State. She did not get to medical school — I mean, she got accepted — but she didn’t enroll, and she’s working as a scribe at one of the major hospitals in Tulsa. But she’s on hold because of the current situation, and it’s not like Oklahoma doesn’t need multi-lingual physicians. This young woman is so capable.”

– Dr. Chalmer Labig, OSU business management professor, speaking about an an Oklahoma student whose plans for medical school have been placed on hold due the current uncertainly about the future of the DACA program (Source)

Number of the Day


Median household income of Canadian County, Oklahoma in 2016, the highest in the state. The lowest was Choctaw County with a median income of $32,458.

Source: U.S. Census Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Never-Ending Foreclosure: In the big picture, the U.S. economy has recovered from the Great Recession, which officially began a decade ago, in December of 2007. The current unemployment rate of 4.4 percent is lower than it was before the recession started, and there are more jobs in the economy than there were then (though the population is also bigger). But for some, the recession and its consequences are neverending…Understanding what these families have experienced, and why recovery has been so evasive, is key to assessing the economic risks the nation faces [The Atlantic].

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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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