In The Know: Students will pay more to attend most Oklahoma colleges

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

Students will pay more to attend most Oklahoma colleges: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education approved 2017-18 tuition rates and institutional budgets for the state’s 25 public colleges and universities Thursday. Full-time students who are Oklahoma residents will pay an average $284 more for tuition and mandatory fees for the school year. Increases range from 2.1 percent to 10.4 percent with the average being 5.3 percent. The rate won’t go up at two universities [NewsOK]. The link between education levels and state prosperity is clear [OK Policy].

State board expands SoonerCare home program to teens: A state board on Thursday expanded to teenagers a program that allows disabled adults to transition from an institution to their homes through Oklahoma’s Medicaid program. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority board approved a rule that opens the Money Follows the Person program to youth ages 16-18.Previously, only adults were allowed to take part in the program, specifically those who are physically disabled, intellectually disabled or over the age of 64 [NewsOK].

Medicaid disruption could hurt state program: As Oklahoma’s health care officials attempt to plan an annual budget, the federal government has thrown in another wrench. That disruption will mean that medical providers will get almost a month of claims payouts late next summer. That will only get worse if there are any other revenue disappearances in the budget, which are possible. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is charged with taking in federal dollars and allotting state money to administer Medicaid [Journal Record].

Oklahoma’s rural roads, bridges rank among nation’s poorest: Oklahoma’s rural roads and bridges rank among the 10 worst in the nation, according to a new report released by TRIP, a national transportation research group. TRIP researchers said 16 percent of Oklahoma’s rural bridges are structurally deficient, the seventh-highest rate in the nation. And 22 percent of Oklahoma’s rural roads are in poor condition, the 10th worst rate in the nation, the report said [NewsOK].

The number of homeless families in Oklahoma has gone up: The lack of affordable housing in Oklahoma City is a leading contributor to homelessness, which takes a devastating toll on adults and children who must live on the edge of society, officials said following last week’s release of the 2017 Point-in-Time study. Almost 1,370 people were counted as homeless in OKC by Point-in-Time outreach workers on Jan. 26. While OKC’s homeless population has fallen nearly 10 percent in the last year, one segment is on the rise [Oklahoma Gazette].

New laws take effect Saturday: More than 60 new laws will take effect Saturday. Some are passed by the legislature, others voters approved. Starting July 1, State Questions 780 and 781 are officially on the books. The laws, which the people okayed in November, seek to reform Oklahoma’s criminal justice system and save the state money. The law will reclassify low-level drug and theft charges as misdemeanors, which often mean no jail time for offenders [KFOR].

Teachers on front lines of education crisis pitch solutions to problems at their schools: A new fellowship at 36 Degrees North this summer brought together a group of Tulsa-area teachers to identify problems affecting education and develop creative solutions through work with their schools and the community. The two-week fellowship culminated Thursday evening when the teachers pitched their ideas to a panel of judges who would decide how $20,000 from a United Way Innovation Grant would be divided to help the teachers implement their ideas [Tulsa World].

Tulsa chamber seeks competitive advantage with new workforce study: The Tulsa Regional Chamber’s recently completed workforce study grew out of the need for more detailed information. Tulsa was in the running for a 1,500 employee manufacturer that could eventually ramp up to 5,000 employees — a major coup for any metro area — when the site selection consultant asked for data beyond what the chamber had, said Brien Thorstenberg, senior vice president of economic development for the Tulsa Regional Chamber [Tulsa World].

Opportunities exist in Oklahoma for retail careers, despite a jobs decline: While retail jobs growth in Oklahoma had been keeping pace with jobs across other sectors of the state’s economy during most of the past decade, that number has been falling the past year. According to a monthly survey the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission conducts with employers, there were 184,400 retail jobs in the state in May 2016. The preliminary number for retail jobs in May 2017, however, was just 177,200 [NewsOK].

Wind, data centers drive growth in Oklahoma property-tax exemption program: Oklahoma taxpayers subsidized wind farms, manufacturers and data centers to the tune of $106 million last year, according to the Tax Commission’s latest five-year property tax exemption report. The amount was the largest in the incentive’s history since it began in 1986 and represented a 37 percent increase from the $80 million in property tax exemptions in 2015. The program exempts some types of businesses from property taxes for five years [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“These numbers should be alarming to all Oklahomans and serve as a reminder to the Oklahoma Legislature to adequately fund the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.”

-Chuck Mai, vice president of Oklahoma AAA, on a report that showed that the state’s rural roads and bridges are among the worst in the nation. According to the report, 16 percent of Oklahoma’s rural bridges are structurally deficient (Source)

Number of the Day


Percent of Oklahoma’s nonelderly population who live in rural areas (2015), 13th highest among all 50 states.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Kansas’s conservative experiment may have gone worse than people thought: When Kansas Republican lawmakers voted to raise state taxes last week, they were not only rebuking their own governor, they were tacitly admitting that his tax cuts hadn’t produced the economic boom their proponents promised. It is not just that tax cuts didn’t achieve their purpose, though. New research suggests that the cuts were, in fact, counterproductive. A working paper by economists at Oklahoma State University suggests that cutting taxes actually may have damaged Kansas’s economy, resulting in fewer jobs, reduced incomes and a slower pace of growth [Washington Post]. The Kansas tax cut experiment has a close cousin in Oklahoma [OK Policy].

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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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