classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Report: Oklahoma Leads The U.S. In Per-Pupil Education Cuts

Oklahoma leads the nation in education cuts based on per pupil spending, and those cuts are nearly double those of the next-closest state. A report out last week by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows Oklahoma's per-pupil funding fell by nearly 27 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2017. “Cuts made to the Oklahoma Department of Education were greater than necessary to cover the fiscal year 2016 shortfall,” the report says. “To correct for this, the...
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Dr. Larry Burns sits in a courtroom as he waits for a hearing to begin in Oklahoma City, Thursday, July 9, 2015.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a state law that would’ve placed new restrictions on abortion providers.

In a unanimous ruling, the state’s high court said the law Gov. Mary Fallin signed in June 2015 violates the Oklahoma constitutional requirement that laws deal with only one subject.

“A legislator voting on this matter could have been left with an unpalatable all-or-nothing choice,” the decision says.

Paycom employees participate in a group training session at the company’s corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City on Monday.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Employers have about two months until new federal overtime rules go into effect unless Congress or courts put a halt to them, but experts are telling Oklahoma companies to plan for the rules, anyway.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt has joined several other states’ attorneys general in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor, and U.S. Sen. James Lankford has introduced a bill to delay the December 1 deadline.

A Devon Energy disposal well near Stillwater, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson both say energy policy needs to be included in the national political debate, but they disagree on a transmission line project that would move wind energy from the Oklahoma panhandle to western Tennessee.

Fallin currently chairs the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, and Hutchinson takes over that role next year. Both spoke Monday at the group's annual conference in Little Rock.

Fallin says she supports the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project designed to move up to 4,000 megawatts of wind energy.

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby discussed water rights, language efforts, and the tribe’s economic development during his annual State of the Nation address Saturday.

He told the crowd gathered in Tishomingo the August agreement between the state, the city of Oklahoma City, and the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations maintains tribal sovereignty and resolves long-standing issues over water rights and regulatory authority.

Dan Ellis with Comfortworks Inc. explains the installation of a geothermal heat pump at the Gulfport Energy Corp. headquarters in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Several Oklahoma businesses are joining a national energy trade group to lobby Congress to extend tax credits for renewable energy.

Representatives from the geothermal heat pump sector want an extension of tax credits that are set to expire in December. Members of the geothermal industry say extending the tax credit will allow their businesses to keep growing.

Carol Barnes, of Ponca City, says that one of her greatest fears was losing her vehicle, cutting off her only access to mental health treatment.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

There was a time in Carol Barnes’ life when the prospect of losing her car would have worsened her already severe anxiety and depression.

When she was struggling with her disorders during the mid-2000s, Barnes said, losing her only means of transportation would have meant losing access to her mental health providers.

House Majority Leader Carl Albert (D-Okla.) sits in the Oval Office with President Lyndon Johnson.
Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library

Editor's Note: This program originally aired June 29, 2015.

Southeast Oklahoma is an unusual place, politically. Many southerners settled in the area after the Civil War, leading to its nickname “Little Dixie.”

Through the 20th century, it became the center of political power in Oklahoma, and the Democratic Party dominated politics well into the late 1990s. Decades after the formerly “Solid South” had switched to the Republican Party, Democrats enjoyed an 8:1 voter registration advantage in southeast Oklahoma.

Ryan Kiesel is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Even though it won't be this fall, Oklahoma voters will decide whether or not to approve medical marijuana issue in a future election.

When the campaign for medical marijuana turned in its petition, they had more signatures than they needed, but only about 1,800 more.

So if someone challenged the signature count, it wouldn’t take much to invalidate the months of work. But Thursday was the last day to object and no one did.

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016, before the House Financial Services Committee investigating Wells Fargo's opening of unauthorized customer accounts.
Cliff Owen / AP

Congressman Frank Lucas criticized Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf Thursday as the banking executive testified before the House Financial Services Committee.

Thousands of bank employees have been fired for setting up illegal and unauthorized accounts as part of a sales incentive program.

Matt Whittington, of Edmond, enrolled in Epic Charter Schools because the flexibility of online classes fit with his commitment to gymnastics. The family made special efforts to ensure that the arrangement worked.
Michael Willmus / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma’s largest online charter school is on a track of explosive growth, nearly tripling its enrollment over three years, to almost 8,500.

That pursuit of lightning growth by Epic Charter Schools – a goal affirmed by its co-founder – shows no signs of letting up. Epic officials predict enrollment will near 10,000 by mid-school year.