In The Know: More OK school districts discuss moving to 4-day school week

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

More OK school districts discuss moving to 4-day school week: Twenty-two districts were scheduled to meet to discuss changing their schools to four day weeks, but only 14 representatives were able to attend. Blanchard Superintendent Dr. Jim Beckham and other administrators in the Technology Center District will meet in Newcastle. This district includes schools surrounding the tech center in Wayne. Currently, the state has about 35 districts already using the 4-day schedule. Some districts report that schedule has helped them attract more teachers [News9].

Oklahoma likely to seek more revenue from tribal gaming compacts: The Oklahoma Model Tribal Gaming Compact will become eligible for renewal or adjustment in 2020, if not earlier. Politicians, gaming experts, bureaucrats and lobbyists have told NonDoc the state of Oklahoma is likely to seek additional “exclusivity fee” revenue from the industry, which announced Tuesday that it makes more than $4 billion in total tribal revenue each year. “I don’t think the tribes would be surprised if the state asked for more money, particularly under the current economic climate,” said William Norman, an attorney who represents multiple tribes. “But I think what tribes are concerned about is making sure that there is accountability with respect to the funds that they are providing to the state” [NonDoc]

Don’t touch Oklahoma’s Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund: As Oklahoma staggers through an apparently endless string of bad budget years, our investments in education, health care, public safety, and infrastructure that are tied to the annual budget cycle are suffering. Amid all the cuts and all the struggles just to survive from one year to the next, there’s at least one area where forward-thinking by an earlier generation of state leaders has left us in strong and stable condition: using tobacco settlement payments to invest in better health [OK Policy].

Economist: Oil downturn makes 2016 slippery for Oklahoma: The nation’s economy will be almost average next year. Oklahoma’s economy won’t even reach average, economist Russell Evans told the audience at Tuesday’s economic forum at City Church. Evans is executive director of the Steven C. Agee Economic Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University. He specializes in regional economic forecasting and public policy analysis. The combination of increased production and a declining global demand means oil prices likely will continue to tumble next year, he said [Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise].

Should Oklahoma have budget-only legislative sessions?: No one who observes or participates in developing Oklahoma’s budget is happy with how things work. Each year, the Legislature approves billions in appropriations to over 65 state agencies with minimal input or oversight. Budget agreements are hammered out by a small group of leaders in the final days of session. This year, a $7.1 billion general appropriations bill received final legislative approval just one day after it was filed; most legislators and the public had no time to understand what the bill contained. One major budget reform idea that is gaining growing support is for a constitutional amendment under which legislation not dealing with the budget or revenue could be considered only every other year [David Blatt / Journal Record].

OU hosts debate over civil asset forfeiture reform: Guilty until proven innocent doesn’t apply to property under Oklahoma civil asset forfeiture — a noncriminal proceeding brought against the property itself. Often, forfeiture involves cash and vehicles believed to be associated with drug trafficking. The University of Oklahoma College of Law hosted a debate on Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform on Wednesday, featuring Oklahoma Sen. Kyle Loveless, First Assistant District Attorney Scott Rowland of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma City Police Maj. Bill Weaver and Brady Henderson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma [The Norman Transcript]. OK Policy is part of a coalition of unlikely allies all pushing to reform civil asset forfeiture [OK Policy].

Commissioner warns lawmakers REAL ID deadlines looming: Oklahomans will face consequences if the state does not comply with a federal law passed in 2005 to increase the reliability and accuracy of driver’s licenses, a panel was told Wednesday. The Real ID act of 2005 creates minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which the perpetrators used fake documents. In 2007, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a law saying the state would not comply with the measure, largely due to privacy concerns. The state has received extensions to comply, the most recent being October 2016, said Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson. He does not believe additional extensions will be approved. Failure to comply means a passport would be required to fly on commercial airlines [NewsOK].

OG&E case could decide future of home solar in state: Steve Wilke said he fears a proposed utility tariff will prevent his solar photovoltaic business from growing. The business development manager of Delta Energy + Design said the fee would eliminate incentives for potential customers to invest in generating electricity on their rooftops. But without those fees, customers that generate solar power won’t pay the full cost of using the electric grid, said Ashley Brown, a consultant for Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is scheduled to hear OG&E’s proposed tariff case on Dec. 1 [Journal Record].

Aubrey McClendon’s attempt to launch new company falls short: American Energy Partner LP founder Aubrey McClendon’s bid to raise as much as $2 billion from investors to buy oil and gas assets has ended early, after raising about just $11.2 million. American Energy Capital Partners-Energy Recovery LP unitholders voted earlier this month to dissolve the company, which never acquired any oil and gas assets. Unitholders will be repaid the amount of their investment, but are still subject tax liabilities, according to regulatory filings [NewsOK].

Poll shares Oklahomans’ views on measures to preserve USPS: Oklahomans are open to raising postage rates and reducing Saturday deliveries to alleviate financial pressure on the U.S. Postal Service, but most don’t want to see post offices closed, according to a poll released Tuesday. Only 29 percent of the Oklahomans surveyed about the Postal Service’s problems supported the closure of most money-losing post offices. The most popular answer in Oklahoma, and nationally, was to limit the Postal Service to closing no more than 5 percent of unprofitable post offices a year. The Postal Service last week reported a net loss of $5.1 billion in the 2015 fiscal year [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“I don’t think the tribes would be surprised if the state asked for more money, particularly under the current economic climate… Education is where they want the money spent. They’ve committed to it, the state’s committed to it in the compact. So, if anything, there might be room for discussion about defining and having some accountability for where those funds go — maybe returning some of those to a more local level.”

-William Norman, an attorney who represents multiple tribes, speaking about potential renegotiation of Oklahoma’s compacts with Native Nations over gaming revenue (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of medical school graduates in Oklahoma in 2014 (does not include graduates of osteopathic medicine)

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The remarkable thing that happens to poor kids when you give their parents a little money: Twenty years ago, a group of researchers began tracking the personalities of 1,420 low income children in North Carolina. At the time, the goal was simple: to observe the mental conditions of kids living in rural America. But then a serendipitous thing happened. Four years into The Great Smoky Mountains Study of Youth, the families of roughly a quarter of the children saw a dramatic and unexpected increase in annual income. They were members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and a casino had just been built on the reservation. From that point on every tribal citizen earned a share of the profits, meaning about an extra $4,000 a year per capita. The sudden change in fortunes has offered a rare glimpse into the subtle but important ways in which money can alter a child’s life [Washington Post].

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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