In The Know: Patrice Douglas bows out of $250K state job 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.

In The Know is taking a break on Friday and will return on Monday, June 27th. 

Today In The News

Patrice Douglas bows out of $250K state job offer: Patrice Douglas on Wednesday declined a $250,000-a-year offer to work for a state agency overseeing tobacco settlement funds. The lucrative offer, which is $100,000 more than Gov. Mary Fallin makes, stirred criticism from the public and elected officials. Douglas, a former mayor of Edmond and a former member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, said she was disappointed the job offer didn’t work out [NewsOK].

Oklahoma finance officials confirm revenue surplus likely: After the state agencies suffered millions in cuts over the last fiscal year, finance officials confirmed that the state will finish the fiscal year on June 30 with surplus revenue. State agencies saw cuts of up to 7 percent this last fiscal year, with a 3 percent cut in December and another 4 percent in March. However, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services reported Monday that Oklahoma currently had a $166 million surplus, but that number is expected to decline [KOCO]. After two revenue failures, Oklahoma will end the year with surplus. What? [OK Policy]

Pending windfall provides some good news for Oklahoma state agencies: Oklahoma’s finance secretary says the state has two options for deciding how to allocate what is expected to be roughly $100 million in new revenue to state agencies. In reality, there’s only one option. Preston Doerflinger, director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said that once the size of the windfall is determined, his agency could split the revenues equally among all agencies, “or the Legislature and governor can allocate funds at their discretion via a special legislative session.” [Editorial Board / NewsOK]

Kids Count: Oklahoma shows slight improvement in national ranking on child well-being: Oklahoma moved up two spots in an annual national report that ranks states on child well-being. The state ranks 37th in the 2016 Kids Count Data Book released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. That’s an improvement from 39th the last two years and a change from 36th and 40th the years prior [Tulsa World]. The 2016 Kids Count Data Books is available here.

Tulsa Public Schools restores 42 teaching jobs, 9 staff positions in light of state budget allocations: The Tulsa school board on Monday approved a preliminary budget that reduces previously proposed cuts by half and restores 42 of the 142 previously eliminated teacher positions. In the spring, district leaders had identified $13 million in spending cuts in anticipation of a state funding loss of $13.5 million to $20 million. But officials dialed back the spending cuts to $6.75 million when asking the school board to approve a preliminary budget for fiscal year 2017 [Tulsa World].

Claremore Public Schools cuts 25 teaching jobs amid state aid shortfall: Claremore Public Schools will reduce its teaching staff by 25 in an effort to cut costs ahead of next school year, district officials said. The decision was announced at the school board meeting Monday. Most of the positions are already vacant, Claremore Superintendent Mike McClaren said. The district initiated a hiring freeze about halfway through the school year in anticipation [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma leads the nation for the largest cuts to general school funding since the start of the recession [OK Policy].

Broken Arrow Schools Reduce Transportation Starting August 17th: Broken Arrow Public Schools held a fourth forum Wednesday night to make parents aware of the transportation changes coming in August. The school system says students who live within a mile and a half of the school will not get transportation. Tabatha Mullins’ daughter walks to school. She and other students who live within one mile from the school don’t get bus service [KJRH].

Public participation to continue at OKC school board meetings: Public participation at Oklahoma City school board meetings doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, the district’s top official said Wednesday. Acting Superintendent Aurora Lora told The Oklahoman that “board member comments and public comments are still on for our board meetings. Both will be happening on June 27, July 1, etc.,” she said [NewsOK].

Prosperity Policy: Destitution in Oklahoma: Each year, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof embarks on a reporting trip to cover global poverty in far-flung places like Congo or Myanmar. This year, he decided to add a stop in Tulsa, to look at the impact on struggling families of the nation’s 20-year experiment with revamping welfare. His findings, featured in last Sunday’s Times, were disheartening. “The embarrassing truth,” he writes, “is that welfare reform has resulted in a layer of destitution that echoes poverty in countries like Bangladesh.” [David Blatt / Journal Record]

Oklahoma’s teen birth rate is near the highest in the country. We can do better: Oklahoma ranks 2nd among all U.S. states for the highest teen birth rate. In 2014, Oklahoma’s teen birth rate was 38.5 per 1,000 teenage women, more than 1.5 times the national average of 24.2 per 1,000 teenage women. That works out to 4,802 teen births in Oklahoma in 2014. While the largest number of teen births were to non-Hispanic white Oklahomans, the birth rate was highest for non-Hispanic black teenagers (46.9 per 1,000) and Hispanic teenagers (58 per 1,000) [OK Policy].

Zombie movies could be made on this city-owned property: Watch out for the broken glass, dead fish, random trash and waist-high weeds spread throughout the “Walking Dead”-like campus just east of downtown Tulsa. The former Laura Dester Shelter and, before that, Tulsa Boys Home near Eighth Street and Quincy Avenue had become an overgrown, ignored mess. The signs still read “Department of Human Services,” but the agency doesn’t own it [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World].

Lexington prison without traditional power source since Saturday: Following a lightning strike to an on-site transformer, the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center remained without its traditional power source Wednesday afternoon, running instead on generators. The 1,450 inmate facility has been operating since Saturday on three generators, said Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terri Watkins. “It is warmer than it would be, but they have ice going in, they have fans and generators. So they’re not in the dark,” she said [NewsOK]. The effects of budget cuts on Oklahoma prisons are hidden but dangerous [OK Policy].

Scenic Rivers Commission Meets for Last Time: The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission met for the last time Tuesday after a newly passed state law combines the entity with the Grand River Dam Authority. The commission has been a state agency for nearly 40 years and has focused on protecting, enhancing and preserving the Illinois River and its tributaries. The law passed this legislative session disbands the commission on July 1 [KWGS].

Morrissette withdraws from corporation commissioner race: A Democratic state representative from south Oklahoma City is withdrawing as a candidate for a six-year term on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Term-limited state Rep. Richard Morrissette announced his withdrawal in a statement on Wednesday, citing the death of his father in April as a contributing factor [NewsOK].

Legislator unsure if First Amendment should cover Islam: Sometimes, a yes-or-no question is best answered with a simple yes or no. But in an interview Monday, Oklahoma Rep. Pat Ownbey (R-Ardmore) refrained from casting an up or down vote in response to what I thought would be a simple inquiry: “Do you think Islam is a religion that should have First Amendment protections?” Instead, Ownbey opened his reply with a complex grunt of thoughtful consideration [NonDoc].

Former state Senate leader Mike Morgan resentenced: Former state Senate leader Mike Morgan was resentenced Tuesday to 18 months in federal prison in a bribery case. Morgan, 61, was resentenced because his first punishment was found to be “unreasonably lenient.” He must turn himself in by noon July 21. He is not appealing [NewsOK].

Court orders Seneca-Cayuga tribe to redo election: A northeastern Oklahoma tribe will be re-doing its election following questions over how it was conducted earlier this month. On Tuesday afternoon, a judge with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Court of Indian Offenses ruled that the Seneca-Cayuga Nation must hold a second election for chief, two Business Committee seats and three Grievance Committee seats [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“I’ve done this way too many years, and I have a feeling we’re looking at more (state) revenue failures. We’re not out of the woods yet.”

– Claremore Public Schools Superintendent Mike McClaren, after the district cut 25 teaching positions in an effort to cut costs going into the next school year (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma adults reporting that they have asthma (2014).

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

To Change Poor Students’ Perceptions, Change Their Realities: Income inequality is a vicious cycle. Cities and states with with significant income inequality often have low rates of social mobility. Recently, the Brookings Institution released “Income Inequality, Social Mobility, and the Decision to Drop Out of High School,” a paper by researchers Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine that examines this correlation, and ultimately suggests that it is due in part to the decision by poor students to drop out of high school. According to the study, poor youth — boys in particular — who grow up in geographic areas with a large gap between the bottom- and middle-class are much more likely to drop out of high school than poor youth from areas with less income inequality [Pacific Standard Magazine].

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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.

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