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Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin used her final state of the state address to tell lawmakers to act immediately to shore up the state’s finances.

The state faces an estimated $425 million budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, while the government still does not have enough money to fund services for the current year.

“No more delaying. No more putting things off. No more kicking cans down the road. No more addressing long-term budget problems with short-term fixes,” Fallin said.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma experienced a dramatic drop in earthquakes in 2017 — a decline likely due, in part, to regulations limiting activity at oil-field disposal wells, scientists and experts say. New research suggests those regulations might be reducing some quakes more than others.

It’s been two years since state oil and gas regulators adopted a broad regional plan that limits the amount of wastewater pumped into disposal wells in quake-prone areas. The good news: It appears to be working. After peaking in 2015, earthquakes became a lot less frequent.

Don Gonyea / NPR

A memo alleging that the FBI abused its surveillance authority became public on Friday after a push by House Republicans.

Storme Jones / KGOU

When Gov. Mary Fallin addressed lawmakers in her first State of the State speech in 2011, she implored them to fix a $600 million hole in the state budget. Seven years later, in her final State of the State address, the legislature is faced with a similar task: filling an estimated $425 million gap in the budget.

 

Storme Jones / KGOU

When Gov. Mary Fallin addressed lawmakers in her first State of the State speech in 2011, she implored them to fix a $600 million hole in the state budget. Seven years later, in her final State of the State address, the legislature is faced with a similar task: filling an estimated $425 million gap in the budget.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

At least 60 private schools receiving tax-credit scholarships have been given three months to comply with a state law that prohibits discriminating against applicants based on disability.

The Opportunity Scholarship Fund, a nonprofit that last year collected $5.1 million in donations to help pay students’ tuition at private schools across the state, says schools that don’t comply will be removed from the program.

Oklahoma Watch

Update from Health Department spokesman Tony Sellars: “The Oklahoma State Department of Health confirms the resignation of CFO Mike Romero. The agency will not have any additional comment at this time.”

Superintendent of Blanchard Public Schools, Jim Beckham, says if schools used property taxes for teacher pay, there’d be big inequities from district to district.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma lawmakers have butted heads for years over how to increase funding for education, but one recurring idea has been to give schools more flexibility in spending the money they already have.

 

A new bill filed by Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, is the most recent attempt to do this.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP

A prosecutor who negotiated a plea deal for a man convicted of raping a 13-year-old girl has resigned.  

 

Murray County Assistant District Attorney David Pyle stepped down Wednesday afternoon, according to a release from the Carter County District Attorney’s office.

 

Rep. Greg Walden via AP

Four members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation were on an Amtrak train that crashed into a garbage truck in Crozet, Va. on Wednesday morning.  None were injured.

 

Developer Marva Ellard on the campus of the former Villa Teresa School, 1216 Classen Dr. in Oklahoma City.
Emmy Verdin / Journal Record

The demand for owner-occupied residential housing in downtown Oklahoma City continues to grow, so developers are adding more housing to the area.

The Journal Record’s Molly Fleming told KGOU that those development include the Wheeler District south of the river, the former Villa Teresa school, 701 Hudson, The Bower and The Broadway Condominiums, among other projects.


Oklahoma City Public Schools

Aurora Lora, superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools, resigned Tuesday, compounding the instability at the helm of the state’s largest school district.

Oklahoma City Public Schools has had 11 superintendents since 2000. Lora took the top job in 2016 after a stint as assistant superintendent under Rob Neu.

US Capitol building
Flickr

Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III, seen as a rising political star with a famous last name, will deliver the Democratic response to President Trump's State of the Union. In announcing their decision, Democratic leaders in Congress called Kennedy a "relentless fighter for working Americans." Kennedy is the grandson of the late Robert Kennedy, the former U.S. attorney general and New York senator who was assassinated in 1968. He is also the great nephew of both the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and the late president John F. Kennedy.

view of the US Capitol dome through trees
Liam James Doyle / NPR

President Trump is delivering his State of the Union address to Congress tonight, scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. CT, which will be followed by a response from the Democratic Party.

elementary school library
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

With the start of the 2018 legislative session eight days away, lawmakers have submitted a flurry of proposals related to education.

They range from the expected — proposed salary boosts and other financial compensation for teachers — to the unexpected, like bills to allow schools to sell and place ads on school buses and to permit students to apply their own sunscreen.

The intent of many other proposals is still unknown, as many education-related bills were submitted as “shell bills,” written with no substantive text and to be amended later.

M. Kathi Rawls, an Oklahoma City area attorney, represents consumers in civil cases that involve auto loans, debt collection, repossession and identity theft.
Oklahoma Watch

When customers with poor credit buy a vehicle at some used-car lots in Oklahoma, they must agree to an unusual condition: Let the dealer’s finance company attach a Global Positioning System device to the vehicle that tracks their every location.

If the buyer defaults on the loan, then the lender can find the vehicle easily and repossess it. In some cases, the tracking system also allows the company to disable the ignition if the buyer is late on payments.

Reveal: Too Many Pills

Jan 29, 2018
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY MICHAEL I SCHILLER FOR REVEAL. PHOTO OF PILL BOTTLE AND HANDS BY FRANKIE LEON VIA FLICKR

Drug overdoses now are the leading cause of death among Americans under 50, largely thanks to a surge in opioid use. Although heroin and fentanyl have dominated the headlines in recent years, the problem started with a flood of prescription painkillers, distributed by some of the country’s biggest corporations.

A billboard for TSET’s Shape Your Future wellness campaign sits along an Oklahoma City highway. Shape Your Future is one of the agency’s advertising efforts to decrease smoking and obesity, and make Oklahomans healthier.
Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

With another sizable budget shortfall looming, and state agencies pleading for help, some Oklahoma lawmakers are turning hungrily to one of the state’s biggest heaps of public cash.

The September 27, 2015 "super blood moon."
Casey Davis / NASA

Early-rising Oklahomans will have the chance to view a total lunar eclipse Wednesday morning.

 

Storme Jones / KGOU

As Oklahoma lawmakers prepare for the start of the 2018 legislative session on Feb. 5, they’ll be met with the familiar issues of filling an estimated $425-million budget hole, giving teachers a pay raise, reducing prison overcrowding and maintaining the state’s infrastructure.

Former Republican Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives Kris Steele says it’s time for lawmakers to put statesmanship over partisanship.

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