Gov. Mary Fallin enters the House chamber to deliver her "State of the State" address on Feb. 1. Political observers say she will need to work intensely behind the scenes to succeed in pushing through the revenue-raising measures she proposed.
Michael Willmus / Oklahoma Watch

One By One, A Closer Look At Fallin’s Proposals To Fix Oklahoma's Budget Hole

Gov. Mary Fallin to Oklahoma lawmakers: We need hundreds of millions of dollars, fast. Here are my ideas. What have you got? That’s not exactly how Fallin put it in her State of the State address to the Legislature on Feb. 1. But it’s the essence of what she said, according to several officials and analysts asked to assess the governor’s response to Oklahoma’s fiscal crisis. “Mary Fallin is doing precisely what good governors have to do in circumstances like this,” said former Gov. Frank Keat...
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Oklahoma Water Resources Board project coordinator Jason Murphy samples water in the frigid Canadian River east of Oklahoma City.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma's economy runs on oil. The energy industry drives 1 in 5 jobs and is tied to almost every type of tax source, so falling oil prices have rippled into a state budget crisis.

Crude oil prices have dropped more than 70 percent, and that's created problems across government agencies in Oklahoma. Jason Murphy is a project coordinator for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. He slides on a pair of waders, unspools a sensor probe and splashes into the frigid Canadian River east of Oklahoma City.

The Hugo water treatment plant in July.
Sarah Terry-Cobo / The Journal Record

The company that provides water services in Hugo says a customer doesn’t have standing to sue over water quality problems. Hugo resident Tara Lowrimore is suing Severn Trent Environmental Services for damages related to federal and state drinking water violations due to cloudiness and lack of chlorination.

backpacks
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Four stories that were trending or generated discussion online or on KGOU’s social media platforms during the past week.

Teachers and education supporters rally at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City in March 2015, asking for better pay.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

State. Sen. David Holt is proposing $10,000 teacher pay raises over the next few years, and says it’s possible without raising taxes.

His plan is three-pronged. School districts would be consolidated and excess money would go to teacher pay. All revenue growth after fiscal year 2017 would go directly to raises, and the state would find another $200 million by reforming tax credits.

Holt said legislators have a moral obligation to raise pay, and help solve the teacher shortage.

A crowd gathers outside the Oklahoma County courtroom to await the sentencing of Daniel Holtzclaw on Thursday afternoon.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Daniel Holtzclaw’s victims and their supporters emerged from the courtroom Thursday, declaring  justice had been served. Moments earlier, officers had led a silent Holtzclaw, shackled and wearing prison orange, to serve the rest of his life in prison.

Customers enter a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Luther. It is one of six stores the company is closing in Oklahoma.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

On Tuesday, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber president Roy Williams said the U.S. Department of Justice will hold off on suing Oklahoma County over issues at the jail just west of downtown.

The jail has had problems for years, and in 2008 Oklahoma County entered a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice to fix overcrowding and repair issues at the facility just west of downtown.

Former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, who was found guilty of raping and sexually assaulting multiple women while on his beat, was sentenced to 263 years in prison.

Holtzclaw's sentencing Thursday was temporarily delayed, after his attorney requested a new trial. Holtzclaw claimed there was evidence that hadn't been presented at trial.

The judge rejected the request, and sentenced Holtzclaw to 263 years in prison, to be served consecutively. That's the maximum sentence, and the one which had been recommended by a jury last month.

A SandRidge Energy well in northwestern Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

SandRidge Energy has agreed to shutter some disposal wells in earthquake-prone northern Oklahoma in a settlement that avoids legal action by state oil and gas regulators.

Daryl Gandy teaches at US Grant High School in Oklahoma City.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

Daryl Gandy walks through the halls of Ulysses S. Grant High School in south Oklahoma City.

“We have 1,800 kids in this school that was built for 1,250,” Gandy said. “We have about 30 teachers, myself included, that don’t have a classroom.”

As Gandy strolls through the school cafeteria, he points outside to a white, nondescript building with a long metal ramp.

“These are our portables,” Gandy said. “We call it the trailer park. We have about 10 classrooms out here. This helps some of our overcrowding situation but it definitely didn’t fix it.”

Children play in a small tributary of the Illinois River near Tahlequah, Okla., in May 2015.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oil and gas are endangering the Oklahoma’s streams, soil and wetlands. Not by polluting them, but because plummeting oil prices have blown a billion-dollar hole in the state’s budget. Funding cuts at agencies that manage Oklahoma’s natural resources could threaten the state’s beauty, as well as people’s lives and property, officials say.

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