In The Know: Tulsa Public Schools restores 42 teaching jobs, 9 staff positions in light of state budget allocations

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

Tulsa Public Schools restores 42 teaching jobs, 9 staff positions in light of state budget allocations: The Tulsa school board on Monday approved a preliminary budget that reduces previously proposed cuts by half and restores 42 of the 142 previously eliminated teacher positions. In the spring, district leaders had identified $13 million in spending cuts in anticipation of a state funding loss of $13.5 million to $20 million [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma lawmakers could call special legislative session to distribute budget surplus: If trends hold and Oklahoma ends the fiscal year with a $100 million budget surplus, two main scenarios have emerged for how the money would be allocated. “If funds are available to return, Oklahoma Management and Enterprise Services can return funds equally to all agencies, or the Legislature and governor can allocate funds at their discretion via a special legislative session,” OMES Director Preston Doerflinger said Monday [NewsOK]. Oklahoma finance officials confirmed on Monday that a revenue surplus is likely [Associated Press].

With Sense of Outrage, Educators Leap onto Campaign Trail: The idea of running for public office, much less being part of the Oklahoma Legislature, was never on Mike Mason’s mind during his 31-year career as a science teacher at Putnam City High School and Mustang High School. That, however, changed after he agreed to meet with Oklahoma Education Association leaders earlier this year about whether he would consider running for office. Already upset at the state’s relatively low education funding, Mason received encouragement and decided to jump into the Senate District 47 contest in south Oklahoma City [Oklahoma Watch].

Unemployment Rate In Oklahoma Rises To 4.7 Percent In May: Oklahoma’s unemployment rate rose by two-tenths of percentage point in May to stand at 4.7 percent — the same as the national unemployment rate. The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported Monday that the labor force declined by 7,312 from April to May while the number of jobless rose by nearly 10,000. The professional and business services sector lost 2,300 jobs during the month, while the manufacturing industry lost 2,000 jobs and the trade, transportation and utilities sector had 1,000 fewer jobs [Associated Press].

Gov. Mary Fallin to meet with rating agencies in New York: Gov. Mary Fallin is traveling to New York this week to visit with some of the nation’s top credit rating agencies, and she’s taking top state lawmakers with her. Fallin spoke to reporters Monday following a meeting of the State Board of Equalization. She said she plans to leave Tuesday for a New York trip with Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller, her Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, House Speaker-designate Charles McCall, and Oklahoma City Sen. Greg Treat, who is vice-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee [Associated Press].

How messed up are state finances? Plenty: State Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger asked the perfect question in response to news that the state’s general revenue fund collections last month were well below the amount needed largely because of excessively generous tax incentives to wind farms. Overall, May’s tax receipts were $25.5 million below the level they were in the same month last year. It was the fourth month of the year when corporate income taxes were less than zero, largely driven by refundable tax incentives for wind farms that the Legislature did nothing about this year [Tulsa World Editorial Board].

Governor Mary Fallin Signs The Mark Costello Act Into Law: Oklahoma took a step forward in mental health reform as Gov. Mary Fallin signed the “Mark Costello Act” into law. It’s named after the late labor commissioner. His son, who has a history of mental illness, is accused of killing him. Similar legislation failed over the past three years in committee. The Costello family believes if the bill had passed sooner, Mark Costello would be alive today [News 9].

A perfect storm (Neglected Oklahoma): “My life sucks.” She says it in such a matter-of-fact way you might think she’s talking about breaking a nail, but Tanya Cochran really means it. A perfect storm of homophobia, poverty, substance abuse, a failing mental health system, a deeply flawed child protective services system and the privatization of public services placed Tanya directly into the path of poverty, with no way out. The problems started when Tanya was 15 and landed in foster care due to her mother’s drug use. Tanya was placed in the Cleveland County children’s shelter, then moved to a foster home three months later [OK Policy].

County Commission renews agreement on ICE 287g program: Tulsa County commissioners renewed a training agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Monday morning over the objections of more than a dozen opponents who say participation stigmatizes a large portion of the population. The agreement provides for training of Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office deputies as part of ICE’s 287g program, which utilizes local law officers to identify illegal immigrants subject to deportation because of criminal activity or civil violations of immigration law [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma City seeks to drop police chief from panhandling ordinance lawsuit: In asking that police Chief Bill Citty be dismissed from a lawsuit over Oklahoma City’s panhandling ordinance, attorneys say there is no need to sue city employees for carrying out their official duties. A challenge can be “brought directly” against the city and the liability of the city itself is the only issue, according to a legal filing signed by city attorney Ken Jordan [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“I just got tired of watching our district the past few years have to cut, cut and cut some more, all while the Legislature just continues to waffle on getting anything done. But I’m not a politician. I’m a teacher who is trying to learn to be a politician.”

-Mike Mason, a longtime science teacher and candidate for Senate District 47 (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of deaths caused by diabetes per 100,000 in Oklahoma in 2013

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The poor are paying more and more for everyday purchases, a new study warns: The poor often spend more on all kinds of things. Households that have less money to spare in any given week, for example, are forced to buy toilet paper and similar goods in small packages, increasing the prices they pay. In addition, poor families must rely on a whole range of alternative financial services, which might charge exorbitant fees and expose customers to serious risks. New research suggests that these disparities might only be getting worse [Washington Post].

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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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