Oklahoma Watch
8:16 am
Tue February 24, 2015

What The State Spends On Travel, Memberships And ‘Swag’

Preston Doerflinger, Office of State Finance.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Facing a budget hole of more than $611 million, state lawmakers said they're looking everywhere for revenue to fill that hole.

On Friday, Governor Fallin's finance secretary, Preston Doerflinger, said he may have found a source of savings: agency travel costs, agencies' memberships to other organizations and agency promotional and events expenses, or what his office calls "swag."

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Oklahoma Watch
6:03 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Released Offenders Face High Fees For Driver’s Licenses

John Atkinson, who was released from OKlahoma County Jail after serving time on drug and weapons charges, must pay $3,000 to get his driver's license restored. Until then, he is relying on family and friends for transportation.
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

Editor's Note: This is the sixth installment in a series reported jointly by Oklahoma Watch and KGOU Radio.

When offenders leave prison to re-enter society, one of the steepest barriers they face is finding a job.

Then they encounter a second barrier: paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees to reinstate a driver’s license so they can look for and keep a job.

Oklahomans who lose a license because of failing to pay a traffic fine or appear in court on the matter may have to pay several hundred dollars to restore the license.

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Business
5:16 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Analysts Fear A Prolonged Drop In Oil Prices Will Hurt Oklahoma's Banks

Drilling rigs dot the landscape near Calumet, Okla., in April 2013. Oklahoma's economy blossomed during the domestic fracking boom, but as the price of crude oil drops, that could change.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 1:39 pm

In Oklahoma, a state that largely rode out the recession on a gusher of new-found oil, things may be about to change.

Now it costs more to produce most of Oklahoma's oil than it's worth on the world market. That's triggering a sharp economic reversal, one that some say has the makings of a prolonged downturn.

"Over the last five years, the stars really aligned," says Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. "The community's investment in itself just blossomed, the energy industry blossomed."

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Arts and Entertainment
5:47 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

State Arts, Libraries Agencies Prepare for Further Cuts

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 12:45 pm

A state House budget subcommittee asked cultural agencies Monday how they’re preparing for another year of cuts.

Oklahoma Arts Council Director Amber Sharples said their first cuts would be to community arts programs.

"These go very heavily to our rural communities — the festivals that take place everywhere from Claremore, Idabel, across the state," Sharples said. "So, obviously, that would have ramifications."

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Weather and Climate
5:36 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Snow, Sleet Lead To School Closings Due To 'Deteriorating Conditions' In Central Oklahoma

It will start off cold Tuesday, but then we will see more sun and warmer temperatures. There may still be hazardous travel this morning where snow and sleet accumulated on Sunday and Monday.
National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office

Updated 6:30 a.m.

Most central Oklahoma schools have canceled classes Tuesday due to continuing icy conditions, including Oklahoma City, Norman, Edmond, El Reno and Deer Creek Public Schools.

Several area universities have also delayed their openings.

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Oklahoma News
4:40 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Manhattan Construction Chosen For $91 Million Repair Of Capitol Building Interior

Oklahoma Capitol Building
Credit ana branca / Flickr Creative Commons

A Tulsa-based construction company has been selected to complete the repair and restoration of the interior of the state Capitol.

State officials announced Monday the selection of Manhattan Construction as the contractor on the project. A total of three vendors had submitted proposals.

State Capitol Project Manager Trait Thompson says the interior work should begin next year and will be capped at $91 million.

Renovations to the building's exterior are expected to begin this spring. That contract was awarded to JE Dunn Construction and capped at $25 million.

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Oklahoma News
3:42 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Tom Coburn Meets With State Republican Lawmakers

Credit Medill DC / Flickr Creative Commons

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn is visiting with Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature and urging them to join the list of states calling for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Coburn met separately Monday in Republican caucus meetings in the House and Senate to talk about the idea of a convention of the states to address the growing power of the federal government.

Separate measures in the House and Senate would call for a constitutional convention, which is authorized under Article Five of the U.S. Constitution.

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Politics and Government
1:23 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Oklahoma County DA Says DHS Failed To Protect Abused Child

David Prater, Oklahoma County District Attorney
Credit Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office

An Oklahoma prosecutor says the Department of Human Services didn't do enough to help an Oklahoma City girl whose grandmother is accused of dressing as a witch to abuse her.

The Oklahoman reports that Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater says the department should have done more after the girl's mother called the department's hotline in June to say there was a phone video of 49-year-old Geneva Robinson grabbing her daughter.

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Oklahoma Voices
1:02 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Economist Katz Urges Oklahomans To Adapt To Changing Economy

Bruce Katz, vice president and founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, regularly advises national, state, regional and municipal leaders on policy reforms that advance the competitiveness of metropolitan areas.

Organized citizens of large cities can be a greater force of innovation in leadership than state or federal governments, according to the vice president of the Brookings Institution.

Bruce Katz discussed the premise of his book The Metropolitan Revolution during a January 28 event at the University of Central Oklahoma. He emphasized the country’s economic growth model needs to “get back to the fundamentals” without relying on state and federal governments to lead the way.

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Politics and Government
12:28 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Lawmakers, Agencies Work To Plug Larger Budget Shortfall

Officials from state agencies across Oklahoma are returning to the Capitol for more budget briefings since the Legislature must deal with a $611 million shortfall in the next fiscal year — double the initial projection.

Appropriations and budget subcommittees in the House and Senate are meeting with agency leaders this week to find out how they would handle budget cuts ranging as high as 10 percent.

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