In 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, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.
Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:
Today you should know that the Community Intervention Center in Duncan, which handles juveniles arrested for crimes, is facing a state budget cut that may force layoffs of more than half the staff. Officials fear the cuts will take police off of the streets to take care of minors picked up for crimes. Oklahoma Watch took an in-depth look at administrative and classroom costs in Oklahoma schools. Flat-rate tuition — which charges the same rate for all students enrolling anywhere from 12 to 18 hours — will spread to three more state universities this fall. The plan is meant to provide an incentive to take more classes and graduate sooner.
Members of The Oklahoma Academy talked about the organization’s recommendations to improve transportation infrastructure in the state, including changing the state’s gas tax from a flat number of cents to a percentage of the wholesale price. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed why this reform should be high on the agenda. Oklahoma was ranked 47th in the nation for how well the state protects teen drivers and others on the road with them. A federal regulation that limits the time a trucker is on the road, implemented after a crash that killed 10 people on the Will Rogers Turnpike, is believed to have prevented around 1,400 crashes nationwide.
Gov. Mary Fallin and Rep. Tom Cole have criticized President Obama for the handling of thousands of young unaccompanied immigrants coming from South American countries, even though the procedure for handling them was created in a bill under President George W. Bush that was supported both by Fallin and Cole in Congress. Steve Russell, the retired U.S. Army Ranger who led Republican candidates in the race to replace Rep. James Lankford, does not live in the congressional district he wants to represent. The U.S. Constitution only requires that a U.S. House candidate be an inhabitant of the state in which he or she is running.
Oklahoma House members have requested more than 90 interim studies on topics ranging from the death penalty to the cost of propane. See the full list of interim study proposals here. The ACLU has asked an Oklahoma County judge to reconsider her ruling that Gov. Mary Fallin can withhold documents requested by news organizations under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has received a “Golden Padlock” award from a national journalism organization for her support of the state’s execution secrecy law. The Number of the Day is the number of arrest-related deaths in Oklahoma in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times examines why Kansas tax cuts are costing much more than that state originally estimated.
In The News
Cops may return to babysitting duty if state budget cuts aren’t restored
The Community Intervention Center in Duncan, which handles juveniles arrested for crimes, is facing a $126,476 budget cut that may force layoffs. If the budget cut isn’t restored, officials fear police will have to return to the days when they had to “babysit” minors after they were picked up for crimes. John Herdt, executive director of Youth Services for Stephens, warned that if the state budget cuts aren’t restored, the center will have to lay off four full-time employees and three part-time workers at the center, which has nine employees.
Is Oklahoma spending too much on school administration?
Oklahoma Watch took an in-depth look at federal and state data on administrative and classroom costs in district schools. The data shows that compared with other states, Oklahoma spends a high percentage of its budget on district administration and a low percentage on instruction. In 2011-2012, Oklahoma ranked sixth among states in percentage of funds spent on district administration, at 3.2 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The measures don’t necessarily mean that most districts and schools are rolling in administrative fat. Oklahoma is one of the leanest spenders on common education in the nation, ranking 48th in per-pupil spending.
Flat-rate tuition coming to three more Oklahoma campuses
Flat-rate tuition — initiated last year at the University of Oklahoma — will spread to three more state campuses this fall. The tuition plans for all 25 public colleges and universities were approved last week by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Photo – Under the flat-rate plan, undergraduate students who enroll in 12 to 18 hours will pay a flat rate per semester, based on 15 credit hours. OSU President Burns Hargis said the flat-rate plan provides an incentive to graduate sooner.
Oklahoma Academy lays out policy recommendations from last town hall
Members of The Oklahoma Academy on Thursday talked about the organization’s recommendations to increase revenue to improve transportation infrastructure in the state. The academy is a statewide nonprofit advocacy organization that hosts yearly town hall events to bring attention to a variety of policy issues. Among the recommendations that came out of this year’s town hall on transportation infrastructure is the need to rethink fuel taxes. “In order to have high-quality transportation infrastructure, we have to have a sustainable funding stream,” Hepner said.
See also: Oklahoma’s gas tax needs a tune-up from the OK Policy Blog
Oklahoma ranks No. 47 for teen drivers
Oklahoma is nestled near the bottom of a list that ranks states based upon how good they are for teenage drivers. The 2014 Wallet Hub rankings for best and worst states for teen drivers placed Oklahoma at 47th, only above Nebraska, Mississippi and South Dakota. Motor vehicle crashes are the top cause of death in the country for teenagers, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Per mile driven, teen drivers are three times more likely to be in a fatal wreck than drivers 20 years of age and older. Oklahoma ranked among the 10 worst states in four categories: vehicle miles traveled per capita, teen drivers as a percent of total drivers, percent of teen population with driver’s licenses and maximum first-offense fines for not wearing a seat belt.
Five years later after I-44 crash that killed 10, increased regulation keeping highways safe
A trucking regulation implemented last year that limits the time a trucker is on the road is believed to have prevented around 1,400 crashes, said Duane DeBruyne, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spokesman on Friday. Several trucking proposals concerning truck safety and fatigue issues have been implemented or are in the regulatory development process in the five years since a tractor-trailer crash on the Will Rogers Turnpike killed 10 people in an accident the Oklahoma Highway Patrol lists as one of the state’s deadliest crashes. Although the implementation of the fatigue-related regulations cannot be directly linked to the I-44 crash, the circumstances surrounding the crash cannot be dismissed, DeBruyne said.
Obama gets blame, but 2008 bill set procedures for dealing with young illegal immigrants
Procedures for helping young unaccompanied illegal immigrants are based in part on legislation approved by Congress in 2008, yet some lawmakers who did not object to the measure then are against the procedures now. Gov. Mary Fallin and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, were members of the U.S. House when the bill passed without objection. The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 also passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent and was signed into law by President George W. Bush.
Republican runoff candidate seeks to relocate to congressional district he’s running to represent
Steve Russell, the retired U.S. Army Ranger who led all Republican candidates on Tuesday in the race to replace Rep. James Lankford, does not live in the congressional district he wants to represent but said Friday he has been trying for months to relocate within its boundaries. Russell said his southwest Oklahoma City home, which lies in Cleveland County, outside the 5th Congressional District, has been on the market for several months. Russell is not barred legally from running for the 5th District seat. The U.S. Constitution only requires that a U.S. House candidate be 25 years old, an inhabitant of the state in which he or she is running and a U.S. citizen for seven years.
House interim studies requested
Oklahoma House members have requested more than 90 interim studies on topics ranging from the death penalty to the cost of propane. Rep. Mike Christian, R-Oklahoma City, is seeking an interim study on the death penalty following the April 29 botched execution of Clayton Lockett, which generated national attention. Department of Corrections officials halted Lockett’s execution 33 minutes after it began after he spent three minutes writhing, mumbling and rising up from the gurney. He died about 10 minutes later. Investigations are ongoing. Christian requested an interim study of execution procedures and possible execution alternatives.
ACLU asks Oklahoma judge to reconsider ruling that Gov. Mary Fallin can withhold documents
The American Civil Liberties of Oklahoma has asked an Oklahoma County judge to reconsider her ruling that Gov. Mary Fallin has the legal right to withhold documents requested by news organizations under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act. The ACLU filed the motion on Friday, 10 days after District Judge Barbara Swinton ruled that the “deliberative process privilege” cited by Fallin in withholding the documents is recognized by Oklahoma law. The ACLU’s motion says the decision “is plainly contrary to law.”
Journalists give ‘Golden Padlock’ award to Gov. Fallin
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has received a “Golden Padlock” award from a national journalism organization for her support of the state’s execution secrecy law. Fallin will share the award from Investigative Reporters and Editors with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who has also supported secrecy involving executions in that state. Both governors also share the award with the U.S. Navy FOIA office, which won for blocking access to records about a deadly shooting rampage in Washington, D.C. that killed 12 people last year.
Quote of the Day
“If we lose that funding, it’ll be a huge overtime issue, and remove officers from the streets. You’ll see a lot less man hours on the streets.”
-Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford, speaking about state budget cuts that threaten to force layoffs of more than half of the staff at the city’s Community Intervention Center, which handles juveniles arrested for crimes (Source: http://bit.ly/1r5hxpu)
Number of the Day
Number of arrest-related deaths in Oklahoma in 2013, including those shot by police officers, committing suicide, or killed in an auto accident.
Yes, if you cut taxes, you get less tax revenue
Kansas has a problem. In April and May, the state planned to collect $651 million from personal income tax. But instead, it received only $369 million. In 2012, Kansas lawmakers passed a large and rather unusual income tax cut. It was expected to reduce state tax revenue by more than 10 percent, and Gov. Sam Brownback said it would create “tens of thousands of jobs.” In part, the tax cut worked in the typical way, by cutting tax rates and increasing the standard deduction. But Kansas also eliminated tax on various kinds of income, including income described commonly — and sometimes misleadingly — as “small-business income.”
You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.