In The Know: Planned education rally angers lawmakers

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

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Today you should know that two state lawmakers chastised Oklahoma school districts that have chosen to give teachers and students a day off so they can rally for more education funding at the Capitol. The okeducationtruths blog compiled responses from educators and parents defending the rally. DREAM Act Oklahoma launched a social media campaign against KOTV over a news segment that portrayed the undocumented and Hispanic community as drug cartels.

Longtime friends Rep. Jeff Hickman and Rep. Mike Jackson will face off today in an election for a new Speaker of the House. Though she has not opposed them, Governor Fallin left out any mention of the American Indian Cultural Center and the Tulsa POP Museum from her State of the State speech and proposed budget. Lawmakers are still divided over how to fix the crumbling Capitol building.

On the OK Policy Blog, JeVonna Caine explained why Oklahoma is losing federal Medicaid funding even though the need is rising. Governor Fallin declared a state of emergency after cracks were discovered in the bridge between Lexington and Purcell. With the bridge closed, these cities are now separated by a 45-minute commute despite being less than a mile apart.

University of Tulsa economist Scott Carter explained why increasing the minimum wage is sound economics. The Oklahoman editorial board took issue with OK Policy for explaining how Governor Fallin’s proposed tax cut would affect Oklahomans at different income levels. Tulsa pastor Anthony Scott wrote that the United States should make a stronger commitment to urban education.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of nursing home bed days in Oklahoma that were funded by Soonercare in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, the Wall Street Journal shares stories of Americans trapped in a coverage gap in states refusing federal funds to expand Medicaid.

In The News

Planned education rally angers lawmakers

Two state lawmakers are chastising Oklahoma school districts that have chosen to give teachers and students a day off so they can lobby for more education funding at the state Capitol. “It’s indefensible for government entities to use government resources to lobby government for more taxpayer money for more government,” Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, said in a news release. “It’s also extremely inappropriate for government entities to pressure their employees to take time away from their important duties to lobby for money for that entity.” State Rep. Mike Turner, R-Oklahoma City, agreed.

Read more from NewsOK.

See also: What does the angry mob say? from okeducationtruths

DREAM Act Oklahoma launches campaign against KOTV

Earlier today, the Facebook page of “KOTV – The News On 6″ out of Oklahoma shared the following post: “Oklahoma has the fastest rise in people living in the US without legal status. Some bring drugs and crime along with them. Why has the Sooner State become so popular?” The response was so negative (just read the comments), that members of Dream Act Oklahoma responded rather quickly with a call to action. They launched a social media campaign against stereotypes portraying the undocumented and Hispanic community in unison with drug cartels.

Read more from Latino Rebel.

Longtime friends face off in Speaker race

The 72 Republicans in the Oklahoma House of Representatives will meet behind closed doors on Monday and cast secret ballots to decide who will become the next speaker of the House, one of the most powerful positions in state government. The two men running for the post — Reps. Jeff Hickman of Fairview and Mike Jackson of Enid — grew up less than 15 miles from one another in tiny Alfalfa County in northwest Oklahoma, and each refers to the other as a friend.

Read more from the Muskogee Phoenix.

Gov. Fallin silent on plans for Oklahoma museums

Gov. Mary Fallin talked about many things this past Monday in her State of the State speech, but she was silent on two topics of intense interest to many Oklahomans. She didn’t say a word about any plans to complete the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. She also didn’t address plans to help fund an Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture in Tulsa. Fallin didn’t mention either project in her 209-page executive budget, either. That doesn’t mean she’s no longer interested in the projects, said Alex Weintz, the governor’s spokesman.

Read more from NewsOK.

Lawmakers divided on how to fix crumbling state Capitol

It’s been more than two years since yellow barricades and scaffolding sprang up outside Oklahoma’s Capitol building to protect visitors from mortar and pieces of limestone that are falling from its facade. Inside the building, debate continues among lawmakers on how best to finance repairs to the nearly 100-year-old Capitol’s exterior as well as antiquated plumbing, electrical wiring and other features. Some favor a bond issue to raise money for the repairs, which officials estimate could cost up to $160 million. Others support a pay-as-you-go approach that would tap annual state revenue and avoid creating new debt for the state.

Read more from the Associated Press.

White House announces regional climate hub in El Reno

On the heels of the Senate’s passage of a long-awaited farm bill, the Obama administration announced the creation of seven regional “climate hubs” on Wednesday to help farmers and rural communities respond to the risks of climate change, including drought, invasive pests, fires and floods. The hubs will be in Ames, Iowa; Durham, N.H.; Raleigh, N.C.; Fort Collins, Colo.; El Reno, Okla.; Corvallis, Ore.; and Las Cruces, N.M. Rural communities in Republican voting districts often have a negative view of the E.P.A., which regulates agricultural activities, like the use of pesticides and water on farms. But farmers are also on the front lines of extreme weather, particularly increased drought, which scientists say is linked to climate change.

Read more from the New York Times.

JeVonna Caine: Why Oklahoma is losing Medicaid funding

With the state already facing a budget shortfall, Oklahoma lawmakers got unwelcome news last November, when they found out Oklahoma’s Medicaid program will need an additional $150 million just to continue current services. The extra costs are due to an expected increase in the number of Oklahomans eligible for Medicaid and a $56 million drop in federal funds coming to the state Medicaid program, Soonercare.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Governor declares emergency over crucial bridge closure

Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency Friday for two Oklahoma communities that are now separated by a 45-minute commute despite being less than a mile apart. Highway officials closed the James C. Nance Bridge over the Canadian River last week after discovering several cracks in its truss beams. While it’s only nine-tenths of a mile between Fifth Street in Lexington and Canadian Avenue in Purcell, the shortest detour is 35 miles long. “This bridge is a safety hazard and is at risk of collapse,” Fallin said.

Read more from the Associated Press.

Scott Carter: Increasing the minimum wage is sound economics

The idea of an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work is something that all Americans can get behind. As the nation debates raising the minimum wage, ask yourself: How would your family live if you were making the minimum? Since 1979, the minimum wage has fallen 30 percent in real terms, meaning that in 1979 minimum wage workers could buy about a third more goods and services than minimum wage workers can today. This drop in the purchasing power of the lowest paid workers has greatly worsened the unequal distribution of income.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

NewsOK: Income tax hits rich and poor alike

Gov. Mary Fallin has called for cutting Oklahoma’s top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent. Predictably, opponents immediately resorted to class warfare arguments. David Blatt, with the Oklahoma Policy Institute, said 41 percent of Oklahomans would see no benefit from Fallin’s tax cut and individuals in the middle class would receive about $30. However, the top 1 percent of taxpayers would save more than $2,000.

Read more from NewsOK.

Anthony Scott: Make a commitment to viable urban ed

One of the most important services provided by local, state, and the federal government, is a quality and equitable public education. However poor student achievement, increased drop-out rates, and high teacher turnover demonstrate that public education, as it exists, is failing those it is designed to serve and prepare for success in life. This inability to produce positive results has led those who have economic mobility to leave urban school districts for better staffed and funded alternatives in the suburbs.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

Increasing the minimum wage is win-win. On a human level, it is simply the right thing to do and demonstrates that we as a country respect the dignity of work. And the economics are unequivocal. Raising the minimum wage increases the take-home pay of low-wage workers, initiates an upward spiral for all wages, does not cause unemployment, and can actually create jobs by stimulating the economy.

-University of Tulsa economist Scott Carter (Source:

Number of the Day


Percentage of nursing home bed days in Oklahoma that were funded by Soonercare (FY 2013).

Source: Oklahoma Health Care Authority

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Millions trapped in health law coverage gap

Ernest Maiden was dumbfounded to learn that he falls through the cracks of the health-care law because in a typical week he earns about $200 from the Happiness and Hair Beauty and Barber Salon. Like millions of other Americans caught in a mismatch of state and federal rules, the 57-year-old hair stylist doesn’t make enough money to qualify for federal subsidies to buy health insurance. If he earned another $1,300 a year, the government would pay the full cost. Instead, coverage would cost about what he earns. “It’s a Catch-22,” said Mr. Maiden, an uninsured diabetic. Without help, he said, he must “choose between paying the bills and buying medicine.”

Read more from the Wall Street Journal.

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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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