In The Know: OU Regents OK 5% tuition increase for next academic year

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

OU Regents OK 5% tuition increase for next academic year: The University of Oklahoma will raise tuition and mandatory fees 5 percent for resident students next academic year. The increase for nonresidents will be 6.5 percent for undergraduates and 4.3 percent for graduate students. The tuition hikes are included in the university’s $2.06 billion budget for fiscal year 2018 approved by the OU Board of Regents during a meeting Tuesday in Oklahoma City. OU President David Boren said he regretted having to propose the board raise tuition, “but we simply have not found any alternative, even with reducing faculty and staff and making other cost cuts.” [NewsOK] Budget cuts to higher education are devastating to the state’s long-term prospects [OK Policy].

Oklahoma’s budget: The bipartisan deal that wasn’t: At the close of Oklahoma’s 2017 legislative session, lawmakers fully expected at least one key piece of their budget to be challenged before the state Supreme Court. Sure enough, such a lawsuit was filed against the Smoking Cessation and Prevention Act of 2017, with tobacco companies challenging it as a “revenue” measure that constitutionally should have originated in the House of Representatives and passed with 75 percent support [NonDoc]. The budget that passed left services massively underfunded [OK Policy].

Care for seniors, people with disabilities at risk as DHS grapples with budget shortfall: Most Americans (nearly 90 percent of people over at 65) want to stay in their homes as long as possible as they get older. For people with disabilities, staying in one’s home represents decades of hard-fought court battles against forced institutionalization. For both seniors and people with disabilities, in-home care is vastly less expensive than a residential nursing facility, and in-home care usually means better health outcomes. In-home care is a win for all, from individuals needing the care to their families, friends, and communities [OK Policy].

Legislative leaders ignore OK voters on prison reform: Last fall, Oklahoma voters made it clear they wanted prison reform. They not only passed a measure to ease stiff penalties for non-violent offenders, they opted to funnel the money saved from incarceration costs into rehabilitative programs. The leadership at the statehouse, though, has ignored the will of the people in this and other cases. That doesn’t mean Gov. Mary Fallin, or the entire body of Republicans that now controls the Legislature. Two men are almost singularly to blame for the failure of important bills to advance, and now, even members of their own party are crying foul [Editorial Board / Tahlequah Daily Press]. Next year, legislators can reconsider the strong proposals put forth by the Justice Reform Task Force [OK Policy].

DA mulls charges in juvenile detention death: Prosecutors are considering whether the findings of investigations into the Dec. 15 death of a teenager at Muskogee County Regional Juvenile Detention Center warrant criminal charges. Muskogee County District Attorney Orvil Loge confirmed on Monday two agencies had completed investigations of Billy Duain Woods’ death. The investigative reports, he said, were compiled by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ Office of Inspector General [Muskogee Phoenix].

Uptick in oil activity could mean big money for Oklahoma education: In an area dotted with cows and wind turbines, Oklahomans are about to see a lot of oil activity, and it could mean big money for education. Paloma Partners has paid more than $1 million for mineral rights to drill on state-owned land in Kingfisher County. That money will go straight to Oklahoma’s classrooms. “That’s part of our state constitution,” said Harry Birdwell, secretary for Commissioners of the Land Office [KOCO].

Airbnb to Collect Oklahoma Taxes Starting July 1: Booking an Airbnb listing in Oklahoma will get more expensive in a couple weeks. On July first, Airbnb will start collecting the 4.5 percent state sales tax, local sales and use taxes, and local lodging taxes on bookings in Oklahoma. Airbnb is the latest major internet company to work with the commission on the issue of online sales tax [Public Radio Tulsa].

Oklahoma City voters to decide on sales tax increase in September election: The Oklahoma City Council agreed Tuesday to a revised sales tax plan, asking voters to approve a quarter-cent increase, with a promise their money will go to hire more police officers and firefighters. The plan is to pump $240 million into streets over 27 months and raise $26 million per year for public safety. Worked out in a series of workshops, meetings and public hearings over the past several months, the council’s initial proposal was to raise less for streets without raising taxes [NewsOK].

Oklahoma’s Oil and Gas and Wind Operations Helped Build President Trump’s Wealth: Oil companies and wind energy firms with operations in Oklahoma are among those that helped make up President Trump’s fortune and they are listed in a 98-page financial disclosure report released by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. The report shows at least $1.4 billion in assets and a long list of firms he either owns or has made investments. Among his investments are dividends and capital gains from Halliburton, Phillips 66, Exxon Mobil Corp., Caterpillar Inc., GE Capital, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, and NextEra Energy Inc [OK Energy Today].

OSU-OKC president to step down at year’s end: Natalie Shirley announced Tuesday she will step down as president of Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City effective Dec. 31 to pursue a new challenge. Shirley, 59, was named OSU-OKC president in 2011. “I haven’t finalized my plans going forward. I want to consider things that present a challenge,” she said [NewsOK].

Guatemala opens consulate in northwest Oklahoma City: The Central American country of Guatemala has opened a consulate in northwest Oklahoma City. Guatemala President Jimmy Morales and Ambassador Jose Arturo Rodriguez Diaz joined U.S. Sen. James Lankford for an opening ceremony Sunday. The consulate is the first in Oklahoma and will provide Guatemalan citizens in Oklahoma and Kansas access to official documents and services such as passport renewals [Fox 25].

Two-week Capitol building centennial celebration begins: Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday announced events to commemorate the centennial of the Oklahoma Capitol building. The building will turn 100 years old on June 30. Starting Monday, the original state flag in use when the building was built will be flown at the Capitol for two weeks. The flag has a red field with a white star in the middle that includes the number 46 in blue. It was adopted in 1911 by then-Gov. Lee Cruce [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“There are costs and there are trade-offs when we face such a budgetary situation. My concern is that we are risking the future of our state when we underinvest in the education of the next generation, underinvest to the point that we are the very bottom state in both common education and higher education.”

– OU President David Boren, announcing a 5 percent tuition increase as the university deals with further budget cuts (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahomans per 100,000 residents who were in jail while awaiting a trial in 2014. The national average is 222.2.

Source: Vera Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Steady Jobs, With Pay and Hours That Are Anything But: Mirella Casares has what used to be considered the keystone of economic security: a job. But even a reliable paycheck no longer delivers a reliable income. Like Ms. Casares, who works at a Victoria’s Secret store in Ocala, Fla., more and more employees across a growing range of industries find the number of hours they work is swinging giddily from week to week — bringing chaos not only to family scheduling, but also to family finances. And a new wave of research shows that the main culprit is not the so-called gig economy, but shifting pay within the same job [NY Times].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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