In The Know: Tapped-out state revenue sources cost public schools another $17.4 million in April

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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including Advocacy Alerts, the Legislative Primer, the What’s That? Glossary, and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Tapped-out state revenue sources cost public schools another $17.4 million in April: Public schools learned Wednesday that their monthly payment from the state of Oklahoma would be shorted by an additional $17.4 million, bringing the total reductions since January to nearly $87 million. The Oklahoma State Department of Education sent out a memo Wednesday ahead of Thursday payments to local schools notifying them that state revenue collections continue to fall far short of expectations in both the 1017 Fund and the Common Education Technology Revolving Fund [Tulsa World]. We’ve become accustomed to mid-year cuts. It’s a sad but true fact. They still hurt. Every month is a new stomach punch [okeducationtruths].

Criminal justice reform measures survive House committee gauntlet: Three key pieces of Gov. Mary Fallin’s initiative to reduce the state’s high incarceration rates through criminal justice reform survived two committee hearings and some major alterations in the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Wednesday. Senate Bills 649 and 689, by Sen. Greg Treat, R-Edmond, and SB 786, by Sen. Wayne Shaw, R-Grove, all made it through the House Criminal Judiciary and Public Safety committees, but laden with questions and reservations that must be resolved before any comes close to final passage [Tulsa World]. Recommendations from the Justice Reform Task Force could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy].

Bill that would allow Ten Commandments back at Oklahoma Capitol passes Senate committee: A controversial bill that would pave the way for historical statues on public grounds has passed another hurdle. In 2015, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled the Ten Commandments Monument that was housed at the Oklahoma State Capitol violated the Constitution. That decision led to the monument being removed from the Capitol grounds [KFOR].

‘Pipeline Protection’ Bill Clears Another Hurdle In OK Legislature: A trespassing bill, prompted by pipeline protests in North Dakota, cleared another hurdle in the Oklahoma State Senate. House Bill 1123 dramatically raises the stakes for people who trespass and damage so called “critical infrastructure”, like oil pipelines. “Is the intent of this legislation, is this the prohibition of tribes being able to protest?” asked Sen. Anastasia Pittman [News9].

Extended family leave for new parents would boost economy while addressing some of Oklahoma’s worst health rankings: Too many Oklahoma parents face an impossible choice – continue to work full-time and miss precious opportunities to bond with a new child, or leave work and put their finances and career at risk. Oklahomans shouldn’t face this choice. New parents should be able to take leave to bond with and care for a new child without putting their family’s future at risk [OK Policy].

Griffith offers grim outlook for state health care’s financial future: Local health care providers answered questions and discussed issues facing Oklahoma during State Rep. Claudia Griffith’s town hall on Monday night. …While all of the speakers presented issues different state health agencies are currently facing, the starkest numbers came from Griffith at the beginning of the night when she laid out what Oklahomans can expect in the future [Norman Transcript].

Proposed SoonerCare Cuts Concern Parents Of Kids with Disabilities: People who have SoonerCare could see a decline in their health benefits within a few months, and parents of kids with disabilities are concerned about paying for the therapy their children need. Therapy Town sees up to 500 SoonerCare kids per week who need therapy to function in everyday life; but, if current budget cuts stand, they may not be able to afford it at all [NewsOn6].

Video of ‘Watch-Out’ Forum: Where Health Care Is Headed: Watch an informative discussion on health care in Oklahoma, featuring Julie Cox-Kain, deputy secretary of health and human services and senior deputy commissioner of the Oklahoma State Department of Health; Craig Jones, president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, and Lou Carmichael, chief executive officer of Variety Care [Oklahoma Watch].

Prosperity Policy: Stepping up: Few can deny that Oklahoma’s state budget is in crisis. We are unable to pay our teachers and state employees competitive salaries, or keep services running for those in deepest need. Year after year, we have used one-time revenue and various gimmicks to shore up the budget, while the cost of tax giveaways escalates into the billions of dollars. Now we are facing another massive budget shortfall that could further decimate our schools, health care providers, state parks and other services that are essential to the well-being and prosperity of our communities [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Bill would open path for cities to use property taxes to fund public safety: A Senate panel on Wednesday passed a measure that could lead to the use of property tax revenue to fund police, firefighters and jails. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed House Bill 1374 by a vote of 24-17, as a large contingent from Tulsa watched at the Capitol. The measure moves to the full Senate [Tulsa World].

Prosperity district bill off the table for 2017: If Oklahoma legislators vote to allow prosperity districts, it won’t be this year. State Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona, moved to postpone the measure creating the districts for the year, saying it was too controversial a measure for legislators to tackle during dire budget talks. House Bill 2132 would have created special areas where any resident – individual, commercial or corporate – would face looser regulations. Governing boards would dictate the rules, replacing those of state and local governments [Journal Record]. “Prosperity districts” won’t create prosperity for all [OK Policy].

Experts: Legal pot would raise some, but not enough revenue for shortfall: House Speaker Charles McCall can’t help but laugh when asked if his Republican caucus members are considering legalizing marijuana to help fill the state’s gaping budget hole. …But industry observers say a growing number of cash-strapped states and municipalities across the country are turning to legalization — and the heftier taxes lawmakers can tack onto marijuana sales — to help fill their own budget gaps and to pay for popular programs like education [Edmond Sun]. The experience in other states suggest that legalizing marijuana for medical purposes only would have negligible revenue effects, but the legalization of recreational marijuana could bring significant benefits — though it would not by itself solve Oklahoma’s persistent revenue shortfalls [OK Policy].

Arts and Culture: A public-private partnership that’s good for education, the economy, and Oklahoma’s future: Arts and culture promote civility and transcend all boundaries. Arts and culture bring people together. Arts and culture are rooted in partnerships of all kinds, especially public-private partnerships. Arts and culture organizations offer transformational experiences to everyone across our great state and beyond. In these times of educational crisis and budget shortfalls, the Legislature should look to arts and culture as part of the solution [OK Policy].

Bill gives more authority to shuffle Oklahoma boards, commissions: Oklahoma’s governor and legislative leaders soon could have the authority to sack many of their political appointees at will. House Bill 2316 would give officials broader authority to remove board members without cause, allowing appointments by the governor, House speaker and Senate leader to be under constant review [NewsOK].

Lawmakers want investigation at Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs: Four lawmakers have asked for an investigation and audit of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, but supporters of the agency called the move a political stunt. The representatives, led by McAlester Democrat Brian Renegar, cited a list of grievances about the agency’s policies and purchasing decisions. Renegar criticized a directive that heart monitoring machines be “locked up” and lab machines be taken out of the department’s veteran centers, which provide nursing care [NewsOK].

Tulsa Child Psychiatrist: ‘The Issue Is Much Bigger Than Just Shadow Mountain’: Videos show children being restrained by employees at Shadow Mountain Behavioral Health; they’re part of a BuzzFeed investigation into alleged abuse and misconduct at the Tulsa center. Since the videos have come out, many people have said they, too, either witnessed or endured abuse; but one child psychiatrist said it’s much bigger than just Shadow Mountain [NewsOn6].

Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs to end use of pepper spray: Members of the Board of Juvenile Affairs voted unanimously Wednesday to stop using pepper spray on children in the care of the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs. Also known as OC spray for its active ingredient, oleoresin capsicum, the spray causes a burning sensation on the skin and burning, tearing and swelling of the eyes and can be incapacitating. OC spray has been used 52 times on 62 children in state juvenile affairs facilities over the past five years, according to a department spokeswoman [NewsOK].

Immigration attorneys: Many local immigrants living in fear: Fear and uncertainty is gripping Tulsa’s immigrant community because of rhetoric from Washington. What is being missed, however, is the economic impact that will occur if full-scale deportations occur. Laura Bachman, YWCA immigration program manager and attorney, and Rebekah L. Guthrie-Frisby with the Guthrie Law Office have similar concerns about what is happening at the national, state and local levels [Tulsa Business & Legal News].

Oklahoma residents concerned about healthcare during town hall meeting with Rep. Tom Cole: An Oklahoma Congressman held a town hall meeting with constituents on Tuesday afternoon. In all, about 100 people turned out for a town hall meeting in Chickasha with Rep. Tom Cole. Baby in tow, one mother waited patiently to address him. “I wanted to ask you to please fight for parity for mental healthcare in whatever healthcare bills go forward,” she said [KFOR].

Quote of the Day

“Education, like other core services, are being seriously jeopardized by the funding crisis. It’s one devastating blow after another and is only compounded by our severe teacher shortage. Schools have no stability or certainty with their current and future budgets. We are watching the state revenue collections for April and will vigorously advocate for what every student needs.”

– State Superintendent of Schools Joy Hofmeister on the news that April payments to schools have been cut due to low revenue collections, with reductions since January totaling almost $87 million (Source)

Number of the Day


Infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Oklahoma in 2015. Only 7 states have a higher infant mortality rate

Source: CDC

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Housing First policies could help end Pensacola homelessness: It feels like there is someone on every corner in Pensacola with a sign asking for food, asking for money or asking for help. The sheer volume of solicitors on the streets seems, anecdotally at least, to increase every day. Still, panhandling is just one symptom of a larger, less visible problem. At last count, there were approximately 800 homeless people in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, often eking out existences in makeshift camps, public parks and vacant buildings [Pensacola News Journal].

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.