In The Know: Oklahoma faith leaders declare support of SQ 779

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 faith leaders declare support of SQ 779: A group of faith leaders on Thursday called voter support for a ballot measure to fund education and teacher pay raises in Oklahoma a “moral imperative.” Metropolitan Baptist Church Pastor Ray Owens hosted about half a dozen ministers from churches as far away as Enid for a press conference to advocate for State Question 779. He spoke of the summer departure of longtime Booker T. Washington High School teacher Anthony Marshall for a much higher-paying job at Washington, D.C., Public Schools [Tulsa World]. OK Policy’s statement on the proposal is here

TPS Starts School Year With No Teacher Vacancies For Second Year: For the second year in a row, Tulsa Public School will have a teacher in every classroom for the first day of school. Despite a shortage of teachers, TPS was able to fill about 286 vacancies; last year the district had to fill almost 500 open spots. Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist made the announcement Thursday, saying every student deserves a quality teacher in the classroom [NewsOn6].

In Catoosa Schools, Cash for New Buildings but Cuts for Classrooms: Perhaps nowhere in Oklahoma is the irony of school funding more stark than in Catoosa Public Schools, a district of 2,100 students 15 miles east of Tulsa. School bonds have resulted in an infusion of cash, spent on MacBook computers for all middle and high school students, a monolithic dome cafeteria that doubles as a tornado shelter, new air conditioner units, buses and a plethora of other upgrades. The school board in July approved a contract to build a $1.5 million press box with an elevator at the high school football field [Oklahoma Watch]. Oklahoma continues to lead the nation for the largest cuts to general school funding since the start of the recession [OK Policy]. Some districts, including Catoosa Public Schools, are switching to four-day school weeks to save money, but this leaves some students at risk of hunger [OK Policy].

Why is Oklahoma worst in the nation for feeding hungry kids in summer? Oklahoma is nearly the worst in the nation for food insecurity: approximately 1 in 4 Oklahoma children do not have consistent access to nutritious food in their homes for any number or combination of reasons, from low family incomes to living in food deserts with inadequate transportation. During the school year, the USDA’s school meals program help make sure these kids have access to affordable, nutritious food. In the 2014-2015 school year, nearly 300,000 Oklahoma children enrolled in public schools relied on school-provided lunches during the school year [OK Policy]. Not having enough to eat impacts Oklahomans of all ages, but it especially affects children [OK Policy].

Bakes sales and raffles fill in state’s shirked responsibility to fund schools: Congratulations to the Foundation for Tulsa Schools, which raised more than $1 million for Tulsa Public Schools through its Together for Tulsa campaign in June. The fundraising success was announced Wednesday at the Tulsa Teacher Institute, a training program for TPS teachers that was largely funded by the foundation. The money will be used to pay for more teacher training and to provide classroom supplies and materials for students [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

Metro Police Increase Presence For Back-To-School: Thursday was the first day back to school for students around the Metro, and police want drivers to be safe around school zones. Police in Yukon, Mustang and El Reno told News 9 they increased patrols during school zone hours Thursday, but in Norman officers are all hands on deck throughout the first days of class. “We have almost 50 police officers participating…whether that’s out in the streets in patrol or actually assigned to each individual school,” said Lt. Chad Vincent, Norman Police Department Supervisor of the new Student Resource Officer Program [News9].

Gov. Mary Fallin has 140.8 million solutions, but not nearly enough: Every day that we get closer to Nov. 8, the pressure builds on Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Republican leadership. Right now they have two problems and 140.8 million possible solutions, but that’s not nearly enough. Here are the governor’s Nov. 8 problems [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World].

Walmart’s Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy: Darrell Ross—Officer Walmart to his colleagues in the Tulsa Police Department—operates for up to 10 hours a day out of the security office of a Walmart Supercenter in the city’s northeast corner. It’s a small, windowless space with six flatscreen monitors mounted on a pale blue cinder-block wall, and on this hot summer day, the room is packed. Four Walmart employees watch the monitors, which toggle among the dozens of cameras covering the store and parking lot, while doing paperwork and snacking on Cheez Whiz and Club Crackers [Bloomberg Businessweek].

30 years after Edmond Post Office shooting, gun laws have loosened: Five months after a disgruntled mail carrier walked into Edmond’s post office and gunned down his co-workers, lawmakers convened their 1987 session a dozen miles south at the state Capitol. They could have considered tighter gun laws or convened a task force to study what went wrong. Legislators could have changed how and when someone can carry a firearm. For the most part, they did nothing [Journal Record].

New beer law might not allow brewers to sell pints of full-strength beer: After going back and forth on the issue, it appears the Oklahoma ABLE Commision intends to block Oklahoma breweries from selling full-strength beer by the pint as part of a new state law that goes into effect next week. While Oklahoma wineries have long been able to sell their products on-site, craft brewers have been limited so far to selling 3.2 beer on premises. Breweries have been able to provide customers up to 12-ounce samples of full-strength beer [NewsOK].

FairVote policy analyst: Time to change Oklahoma’s primary system: On Tuesday, Oklahoma will hold 14 runoff elections for primary contests in which no candidate received at least 50 percent of the vote in the primary June 28. These runoffs are designed to uphold majority rule, which is good, but they come at a cost. Taxpayers are on the hook for paying for two elections, and voter turnout almost always declines significantly [Andrew Douglas / NewsOK]. It’s time for Oklahoma to off the runoff [OK Policy].

Oklahoma awarded ACA funding: Oklahoma is receiving 19 awards totaling $1.05 million to invest in health center quality improvement efforts and to provide comprehensive care. Health centers in Oklahoma will use the money to expand current quality improvement systems and infrastructure and to improve primary care service delivery in the communities they serve. “Millions of Americans rely on health centers to provide them with quality health care,” said Dr. Mary Wakefield, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services acting deputy secretary [Journal Record].

Enterprise Products approached Williams over acquisition: sources: Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD.N) approached Williams Companies Inc (WMB.N) earlier this summer about combining their businesses, two of the largest U.S. oil and gas pipeline operations, people familiar with the matter said. Merging Williams’ natural gas liquids business in the northeastern United States with Enterprise’s ATEX pipeline, which runs from that region to Texas, could generate significant revenue and cost synergies for Enterprise. The approach came as oil prices began to recover from a steep slump [Reuters].

Lawsuit shake-up: Plaintiffs withdraw earthquake complaints, will refile: A group of Oklahomans agreed to dismiss two lawsuits that alleged SandRidge Energy Inc. and other drillers triggered earthquakes that damaged homes. But an attorney representing the plaintiffs said he plans to refile complaints in the near future. Poynter Law Group attorney Scott Poynter said court rules allow his clients to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit and file again. He said he expects to file as many as three new cases targeting damage sustained from three earthquake clusters [Journal Record].

Fallin: ‘Let us do our thing’: Dozens of industry representatives and government regulators met Thursday for a national forum addressing oil and gas wastewater. Participants discussed growing demand for water availability, technological advancements in cleaning up oil wastewater and identifying barriers to solutions for wastewater reuse. Oil wastewater, often referred to as produced water, is brought to the earth’s surface when petroleum is pumped from underground [Journal Record].

With Water Settlement Inked, Tribes Now Selling The Details Back Home: After five years of confidential negotiations, the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations have reached an agreement with the State of Oklahoma over water in southeast Oklahoma. The deal has been praised by state leaders as a historic accord that ends the tribes’ lawsuit that blocked Oklahoma City’s plan to pump water out of the region. But the deal still has to be sold to tribe members in that part of the state [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Raccoons caught after evening romp through Oklahoma Capitol: Two masked intruders were captured after entering the Oklahoma Capitol, rummaging through a senator’s office and splashing around in a second-floor bathroom. The intruders? Raccoons. Senate officials say security footage shows the pair sneaking down a Senate hallway on Wednesday night and exploring an office. A cleaning crew trapped the raccoons in a bathroom and called animal control officers [KJRH].

These Stories Point To How Kansas Tax Policy May Be Strangling Economic Growth: Earlier this summer, Jeff Blackwood started the process of moving his business to Kansas City, Missouri — and out of Overland Park, Kansas. But first, he had something to say. “I could have just moved and not said anything,” Blackwood says. “There’s really no benefit to me in having said anything, but it comes down to conscience.” Blackwood posted an open letter to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, lambasting the 2012 huge income tax cuts, the ones promoted and signed by the governor four years ago, the ones that zeroed out income taxes for many small businesses [KCUR].

Quote of the Day

“Bake sales, raffles and corporate contributions aren’t the right way to fund public schools, but, in a time when the state has abandoned its duty to adequately fund education, every dollar counts. We thank every donor and look forward to a time when the state understands that public schools are an essential investment in the future and the responsibility of everyone.”

– The Tulsa World Editorial Board, on the Foundation for Tulsa Schools’ donation to Tulsa Public Schools earlier this week (Source)

Number of the Day


Estimated number of LGBT adults in Oklahoma (2010).

Source: Williams Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Dubious Relationship Between Big Box Stores and Sales Tax: There is a theory – perhaps even a common belief – in America that cities compete with each other. We want them to compete with each other because we believe that competition drives innovation and makes cities stronger. In a Darwinian sense, the competition is supposed to toughen them up, produce better outcomes. This is totally wrong. It’s wrong because, for competition to result in innovation, there needs to be failure. Losers need to die off. Go away. Become, in a Darwinian sense, future fossil fuels. Homo Sapiens don’t sit atop the food chain because Neanderthals became second tier primates. We won. They lost. Their genetic code – the knowledge of their evolution – ceases to be passed on while ours does. This doesn’t happen to cities [Strong Towns].

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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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