In The Know: State lawmaker proposes a $10,000 teacher pay raise

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

State lawmaker proposes a $10,000 teacher pay raise: A state lawmaker says he will introduce a measure next session to provide for a $10,000 teacher pay raise. Voters on Tuesday defeated State Question 779, which would have increased the sales tax by 1 percent to pay for a $5,000 teacher pay raise and fund common education, higher education and CareerTech. State Question 779 was brought to a vote through the ballot initiative process and championed by University of Oklahoma President David Boren [Tulsa World].

OK Group Pressuring Legislature To ‘Pass A Plan’ To Improve Education Funding: Last week, voters turned down a proposed hike in the state sales tax that would have provided for teacher pay raises. Now the campaign again is shifting back to pressuring the state legislature. “Pass a Plan” is the education advocacy group Stand For Children’s new campaign. The public is asked to sign a digital open letter to government leaders demanding they pass a plan to get Oklahoma education funding back on track [NewsOn6].

Tulsa Public Schools report reveals racial, economic disparities in student discipline, attendance: As Tulsa Public Schools leaders work to reduce racial, social and cultural disparities in factors that can determine a student’s success, the district released a snapshot of data last week that Superintendent Deborah Gist said shows “why we feel so urgent about this need.” Click here! “We have very significant discrepancies, and those break across a number of different lines, but it includes differences based on race and other social and cultural factors,” Gist said at the Nov. 7 school board meeting [Tulsa World].

Class Sizes Are Growing Faster Than Teaching Positions: As State Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister holds town hall meetings across the state, she is likely to get questions about the state’s continuing teacher shortage and the impact it is having on class sizes. The state department of education doesn’t gather specific data on class size, but the evidence suggests teachers are responsible for a growing number of students each year–more than the law would normally allow [News9].

What I learned from running for office as Oklahoma’s Teacher of the Year (and losing): “We gave it a good run, friends.” That was my concession tweet after I lost my bid for Oklahoma State Senate last week. I earned only 38 percent of the vote in my district, or about 12,000 votes. My Republican opponent received over 21,000. The math teacher in me kept running the difference in my head. I’ve come to terms with the fact that, no matter how many doors I knocked on, I wouldn’t have overcome that 9,000-vote deficit thanks to straight-ticket voting. Even though there wasn’t a Democrat in my race, an Independent candidate in this very red state faces long odds [Chalkbeat].

Six takeaways from Tuesday’s vote: While most of the attention in Oklahoma last week focused on the geological earthquake that shook the state and the political earthquake that shook the nation, the state election results got less detailed coverage. Here are a few of our important takeaways from the vote [OK Policy].

Republicans dominate the Oklahoma Legislature, but can they get along? With historic domination of the Oklahoma Legislature following Tuesday’s election, Republicans should be in a position to get a lot done at the state Capitol next year. But the question will be whether GOP lawmakers can form a consensus around priorities important to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin like a tobacco tax, a teacher raise, school administrative consolidation, school vouchers and broadened state sales and use taxes [NewsOK].

Here’s why Oklahoma’s liquor law changes won’t be in effect for nearly 2 years: Oklahomans passed sweeping alcohol law changes on Nov. 8. They now have nearly two years to wait for those changes to actually be the law of the land. In the meantime, legislators plan on fine-tuning what voters did on Election Day, regulators are seeking more funding to handle the coming changes and businesses will adapt to a new competitive landscape [Tulsa World].

Groups Say Oklahoma Governor Stalling In Release Of Records: A newspaper and an advocacy group that have waited more than two years for public records from the Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s office are asking a court to order the governor to release the documents immediately. Attorneys for The Oklahoma Observer newspaper and nursing home watchdog A Perfect Cause filed a motion for summary judgment on Monday in Oklahoma County District Court [NewsOn6].

Oklahoma’s highest court elects Combs as new chief justice:  The Oklahoma Supreme Court has tapped Justice Douglas Combs as its new chief justice. In keeping with its constitutional requirement to select a chief justice and vice chief justice every two years, the state’s highest court on Monday elected Combs to the two-year term. He will replace outgoing Chief Justice John Reif [Associated Press].

Corrections chief wants out of OMES mandate: Oklahoma’s corrections chief said that despite some progress over the past year, he wants his agency to be released from the state’s unified information technology mandate. Like 87 other agencies, boards and commissions, the Department of Corrections must rely on the Office of Management and Enterprise Services for IT services. Specifically, the department contracts with OMES for inmate management software, security fences, access control, communication, public database access and other responsibilities [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Republican considered for national party leadership: Matt Pinnell, the former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, is under consideration to replace Reince Priebus as head of the Republican National Committee, according to a GOP source. Pinnell, of Tulsa, is on the short list to replace Priebus, who was tapped by President-elect Donald J. Trump to be the White House chief of staff, though it’s not clear how many candidates are on the list. Trump will pick the next RNC chief [NewsOK].

Trump eyes oil billionaire Harold Hamm, lawmaker for energy secretary: An oil billionaire, a North Dakota lawmaker and a former Bush administration official are being considered to run Donald Trump’s Energy Department, according to transition planning documents obtained by The Associated Press. The documents, which are being closely scrutinized by energy lobbyists in Washington, also outline early policy priorities for a Trump administration. Topping the list is repealing the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration effort to limit carbon pollution from power plants. Implementation is currently on hold awaiting a court ruling [Fox 25].

Quote of the Day

“I think that there is going to have to be recognition that there has to be new recurring revenue put on the table.”

-Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger, saying that proposals to provide teacher pay raises in the next legislative session will require increasing revenue collections (Source)

Number of the Day


Percent change in number of breakfasts served through the Summer Food Service Program between August 2014 and August 2015

Source: Food Research Action Center analysis of Gallup data

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The American Social Safety Net Does Not Exist: In 1996, Aid to Families With Dependent Children—that is, welfare as we knew it—ended. The Republican Party, which had dominated the federal government since the Reagan Revolution, had had welfare in its sights ever since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society expanded antipoverty programs. Liberals and progressives labeled welfare reform one of the worst things President Bill Clinton did, and rightly blamed it for the increase in child poverty that followed [The Nation].

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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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