In The Know: Tax increases have ground to a halt since SQ 640, Hofmeister says teachers don’t feel supported, and more

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

Oklahoma Tax Increases Have Ground To A Halt Since Voters Passed This One Petition: Twenty-five years ago, a majority of Oklahoma’s voters thought it was a good idea. Today, not so much. Back in 1992, following the passage of a controversial education funding and reform measure, House Bill 1017, Oklahoma voters pushed back against the tax increase with a state question that pretty much stopped all future tax increases. Led by stockbroker Dan Brown, voters passed State Question 640, an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution that added new restrictions on how revenue raising measures could become law. [KOSU] What supporters of SQ 640 didn’t foresee [OK Policy]

Joy Hofmeister on teachers: ‘They don’t feel supported’: While the Oklahoma State Board of Education was approving emergency certification for 224 teachers Thursday morning, the chairwoman of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board was launching an initiative petition to hike teacher pay in OKC. At the same time, students, parents, teachers and community members associated with North Highlands Elementary School in north Oklahoma City spent Thursday adjusting to news that the school had been recommended for emergency closure for being “in crisis,” according to OKCPS Superintendent Aurora Lora. [NonDoc]

As state education money dries up, local funding a safety net for CareerTech schools: Amid all the deep cuts in education in recent years, one Oklahoma public education system has fared better than others. Spurred by steadily growing property values, ad valorem taxes have proved to be a support net for many state CareerTech system school districts amid otherwise difficult economic times. [Tulsa World]

Pilot program uses Wi-Fi to connect rural Oklahomans to the internet: Many rural Oklahomans still do not have internet in their homes. The 2015 U.S. Census data puts rural broadband adoption at less than 65 percent in the state — lower than many of Oklahoma’s neighbors including Kansas and Texas. [The Oklahoman]

Graduating Class of 2035 … well, we’re sorry: With the forthcoming start of the state’s fiscal 2018 budget, perhaps we will stop repeating the phrase “…well, it could have been worse” to describe the outcome of the legislative session. Yes, the budget could have been worse, but it needed to have been better — a lot better. Why wasn’t it? Well, it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of effort. [Dr. Steve Turner/Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Uses Emergency Certified Teachers During Shortage: Oklahoma schools have grown increasingly reliant on filling teacher vacancies with emergency certified teachers amid a statewide shortage of educators. The state School Board of Education approved more than 220 emergency certificates Thursday for July, the Tulsa World reported. This time last year, the board considered nearly 80 emergency certificates. [Associated Press]

A local West Wing watch party and discussion hopes to spark political interest: When Andy Moore met with Wheeler District director Ashley Terry about possibly screening an episode of The West Wing in her district as a way to promote civil engagement, he said the director was very receptive. Some events just sound like they were meant to be. “I had joked with her before about how I would love to do a watch party at the district,” Moore said, “because the alliteration in the name is great: West Wing watch party at the Wheeler Wheel.” [OK Gazette]

Empty seats plague the Legislature: Only halfway completed, the 56th Oklahoma Legislature has already lost an unusual number of members. Through scandal and unforeseeable events, four state House members and three senators have left office or announced intentions to leave office before their terms are up. Unfortunately, when the Legislature opens for its closing year in February, that flux will continue. Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Tulsa, announced recently that he’s almost certainly will miss the entire 2018 legislative session because of a military deployment. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

Mullin to host telephone town hall Monday night: Congressman Markwayne Mullin will host a telephone town hall for his constituents in the 2nd District of Oklahoma on Monday, June 26, at 7 p.m. ‘The call will last approximately one hour. The call-in number is 877-229-8493 and the passcode is 111439. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

Long stays are among multiple problems persisting at the Oklahoma County jail: Clothed in an orange jail uniform. Under the watchful eye of detention officers. In a dreary courtroom at the bottom of the 13-story Oklahoma County jail. Brandi Davis, her dark brown hair threaded with streaks of purple and her arms etched by addiction, sits here 38 days after her arrest. She stole a $24 hoodie from an Oklahoma City department store, to exchange for heroin. [NewsOK] Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy]

A story Oklahoma lawmakers should take to heart: As they further discuss the need for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma, an issue that for the most part got sidelined during the 2017 legislative session, perhaps lawmakers will remember stories such as that of Aleia Holt. Holt was the product of a troubled home life, which contributed to her own delinquent behavior, which led to not one stay in prison but two. [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman

Four things I learned in the 2017 Legislature: The Oklahoma Legislature is making itself irrelevant, here are four reasons why: leadership, or the lack thereof, matters a great deal; your bills matter, if you are in the majority; those who come to solve problems often become part of the problem; and no one believes in anything anymore [Rep. Monroe Nichols/Tulsa World]

Nursing home advocates praise decision to delay managed care implementation: The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) acted recently to cancel the Request for Proposal (RFP) for SoonerHealth+, the fully capitated, statewide model of care coordination (often called “managed care”) that has been in development for Oklahoma Medicaid’s aged, blind and disabled (ABD) population. The plan represented a partial privatization of the Medicaid system, and the cancellation is considered a way to slow down or delaying its implementation. A diverse coalition of health care providers, including nursing homes, hospitals, mental health professionals, and both the Oklahoma State University and University of Oklahoma medical centers had expressed concerns about the plan. [Edmond Sun] Oklahoma’s efforts to privatize expensive care for the most fragile SoonerCare patients was contentious from the beginning. [OK Policy]

A Convicted Child Molester Just Moved in Next Door to His Victim: Danyelle Dyer’s abuser moved in next door to her family when he got out of prison. When her parents approached authorities they learned there’s no law in Oklahoma preventing sex offenders from living near their victims—now, she’s fighting to change that. [Broadly]

Officials Say Oklahoma Elections Not Hit By Russian Hackers: Oklahoma election officials say the state’s voting systems weren’t targeted by the Russian government last year despite evidence showing more than 20 other states were targeted. Oklahoma State Election Board spokesman Bryan Dean told The Oklahoman that there weren’t any attempts to access Oklahoma’s election systems. “We do believe our voting system is as secure as any you’ll find,” Dean said. [Associated Press]

Quote of the Day

“Teachers say the reason they leave the profession is that they don’t feel supported. We wouldn’t expect to go to a physician who has no training and no experience and say, ‘You know, here’s somebody who just loves people.’ We’d know that wasn’t best practice, and we wouldn’t stand for that.”

– Oklahoma Superintendent for Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister speaking to the state board of education before they vote on a record number of emergency teacher certifications (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of jail admissions per 100,000 Oklahoma residents in 2014, more than twice the national average (5,340.6)

Source: Vera Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

These are the people who suffered when Kansas’s conservative experiment failed: Suzan Emmons has done the most she can for the girls. Her small green house has bunnies in the back yard, class pictures proudly displayed on the living room wall, food in the refrigerator. She has scrimped from her annual salary of $14,000 to pay for one dance class each: tap for Elizabeth, jazz for Jaiden. But far-off political decisions have made the haven that Emmons built for them more precarious. [Washington Post]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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