In The Know: Unthinkable scenarios come into play if the state fails to adequately fund public schools

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

Unthinkable scenarios come into play if the state fails to adequately fund public schools: If the state fails to adequately fund public schools, unthinkable scenarios become thinkable. Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist sent district employees an email Wednesday night that discussed a series of very bad alternatives that are in the air as the state faces a $1.3 billion budget hole. As things stand now, the district is girding for budget cuts from $7 million to $20 million for next school year, a hit that would make it impossible to protect students and teachers from feeling the effects directly, Gist said [Tulsa World Editorial Board].

Black history is Oklahoma history: In 2003, when I was doing my externship at the U.S. State Department in Washington D.C., I had to work hard just to convince my friends that there were actually Black people in Oklahoma. However, not only does Oklahoma have a rich history involving Black People, but Oklahoma’s Black history is among the most interesting in the nation. I can prove it [OK Policy].

Oklahoma voter registrations shift ahead of March 1 primary elections: Oklahoma voter registration surged by nearly 30,000 between Jan. 15 and Feb. 5, the last date to sign up or switch parties before the March 1 presidential primary. That figure does not include another 8,301 people already registered to vote who changed party affiliation during the same time period. The new registrations increase the statewide total by only 1.5 percent, but observers say the surge is significant because of trends it might signal [Tulsa World].

Potentially harmful bills to Oklahoma children: Oklahoma’s pediatricians are dedicated to caring for the health and well-being of all children, which is why we’re concerned about the record number of bills being considered by the Legislature that can cause real harm to some of our most vulnerable children and their families. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth deserve what all kids need — support, encouragement, understanding, and respect from their peers and the adults in their lives. Proposals supporting harmful “change” therapies and denying school and other public access and accommodation aren’t based on accurate medical and scientific understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity [Dr. Eve Switzer / NewsOK].

Emergency Health Access is Critical for Oklahoma’s Rural Communities: Last month, the community of Sayre lost their local access to emergency health care when the hospital closed their doors. The loss of local health care is a trend across the US. Since 2010, 55 rural hospitals have closed their doors. Burdensome Medicare requirements have forced hospitals to operate under impractical classification regulations to see patients, like the minimum number of inpatient beds that are required. If hospitals choose not to accept Medicare patients, they cut out a huge portion of the surrounding population and they must offset their cost with privately insured patients [Sen. James Lankford / Muskogee Phoenix]. Rejecting federal funds, not over-regulation, is devastating Oklahoma’s rural hospitals [OK Policy].

Legislative committee kills bill to tighten rules on mandatory vaccinations: The Senate Education Committee has narrowly killed a bill that would have removed the personal exemption for mandatory vaccination for public school students. Sen. Ervin Yen, a cardiac anesthesiologist, said too many parents are refusing to protect their children from preventable, deadly diseases for no good reason. His proposal would have allowed parents to opt out of vaccinations for religious or medical reasons but not unspecified personal objections [Tulsa World Editorial Board].

Can bonds for roads bridge Oklahoma’s budget hole?: Lawmakers are considering a huge bond measure to help close a $1.3 billion budget hole. The bond funding would pay for road and bridge projects in the budget year starting July 1. This would free up revenue that legislators then could apply to reducing the biggest shortfall in state history. If lawmakers can’t close a good portion of the hole, severe cuts would be needed, and the public likely would notice major reductions in state services, including public safety, health and common education [NewsOK].

Credit card purchases, gifts questioned by Oklahoma’s state audit: Gifts that ranged from honey-baked hams to Oklahoma City Thunder basketball tickets were given to employees of an Oklahoma county commissioners association by a law firm hired to defend counties against property and liability insurance claims, according to a state audit released Monday. The gifts came from the law firm of Collins, Zorn & Wagner, which was paid more than $13.8 million from 2010 through 2014 to represent counties through the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma Self-Insurance Group, auditors said [NewsOK].

Anheuser-Busch warms up to Oklahoma liquor reforms proposal: Anheuser-Busch has reached a deal with Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, that would allow the company to keep its distribution business in the state if the lawmaker’s proposed state question on alcohol reforms passes. Anheuser-Busch had been a vocal opponent of Senate Joint Resolution 68, which Jolley hopes to get on the statewide ballot on November. Anheuser-Busch took out full-page newspaper advertisements and also purchased local television spots to oppose SJR 68, using the slogan #StopClark [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“We had 12,000 registrations come in the week before the deadline and another 10,000 the week after that had been taken before the deadline. That’s 10 times our normal volume.”

-Bryan Dean of the Oklahoma State Election Board, on the surge before Oklahoma’s presidential primary (Source)

Number of the Day

697 million

Pounds of cow milk produced on Oklahoma farms in 2014 

Source: USDA

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why Poverty May Be More Relevant Than Race For Childhood Obesity: As researchers have searched for ways to explain the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S., many have posited that a child’s race or ethnicity alone can put them at greater risk of becoming overweight or obese. Kim Eagle, a professor of internal medicine and health management and policy at the University of Michigan, was skeptical of this thinking. His hunch was that poverty was a much more important part of the equation [NPR].

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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.

One thought on “In The Know: Unthinkable scenarios come into play if the state fails to adequately fund public schools

  1. Thank God for the citizens who are getting into the fight. Thank God for the organizers who are tireless and effective. Thank God for the hope this brings!

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