Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Watch is a non-profit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. Oklahoma Watch is non-partisan and strives to be balanced, fair, accurate and comprehensive. The reporting project collaborates on occasion with other news outlets. Topics of particular interest include poverty, education, health care, the young and the old, and the disadvantaged.

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Oklahoma Watch
6:39 am
Wed March 25, 2015

How New Subsidies Started

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. More Oklahoma Watch content can be found at www.oklahomawatch.org

It all began with a Kerr-McGee spinoff.

A “change-in-control” provision was added to the Quality Jobs program by the Legislature in 2006 and signed into law by then-Gov. Brad Henry.

Commerce Department spokeswoman Leslie Blair said it was done at the request of McAfee & Taft, an Oklahoma City law firm acting on behalf of a new company called Tronox Inc.

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Education
6:46 am
Sat March 21, 2015

Report Shows Little Change In Average Oklahoma Teacher Pay

More budget cuts will increase Oklahoma teacher-shortage crisis, state superintendent Joy Hofmeister says.
Credit Tulsa World / Creative Commons

Oklahoma gained one spot to claim the fourth lowest average teacher salary in the nation, not because teachers are earning significantly more, but because the average salary in Idaho went down.

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Politics
9:35 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Todd Lamb: On the Road

Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb.
Credit ok.gov

Todd Lamb, Oklahoma’s lieutenant governor, isn’t at the Capitol much.

Now in his second term, Lamb, a Republican, has spent a good portion of his tenure as second-in-command traveling across Oklahoma or out of state. He just finished his fifth tour as lieutenant governor in which he visited 77 counties in 77 days.

On Friday, in McAlester – his last stop on the tour – Lamb was asked by a McAlester News-Capital reporter about any plans to run for governor in four years. “I’ve been asked if it’s in the back of my mind,” Lamb said. “It’s in the front of my mind.”

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Oklahoma Watch
9:32 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Marriage Bill Would Not Eliminate State Involvement

Cavan Images Flickr Creative Commons

While supporters say House Bill 1125 would eliminate state-issued marriage licenses, public oversight of those marriages would continue, even if the licenses are no longer issued.

Currently, state law requires religious officials and others who officiate at marriage ceremonies to register with county officials before a marriage certificate can be considered valid.

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Open Records
6:00 pm
Sun March 15, 2015

Fallin’s Office Didn’t Release Records Sought in Past 11 Months

Gov. Mary Fallin and other state leaders observe a PowerPoint presentation of revenue projections.
Joe Wertz StateImpact Oklahoma

Until Friday, Gov. Mary Fallin’s office had not released records requested in the previous 11 months by members of the news media and other groups, according to her office’s catalog of Open Records Act requests.

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Politics and Government
9:32 pm
Fri March 13, 2015

Lawsuit: State Pension Board Law Violates Constitution

A lawsuit filed Thursday asks the state Supreme Court to find that the State Pension Commission violated the Oklahoma Constitution because two of its seven members are legislators.

Oklahoma City Attorney Jerry Fent's lawsuit said the pension commission is an executive branch entity. He said state Senator Rick Brinkley's membership on the commission violated the separation of power because Brinkley is a member of the legislative branch. Kent's lawsuit named commission chairman Ken Miller, the state treasurer, and Brinkley as defendants.

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Oklahoma Watch
10:15 am
Wed March 11, 2015

Beyond The Racist Chant: The Facts About Black Inequality In Oklahoma

Predominantly black northeast Oklahoma City is plagued by abandoned and vacant homes.
Shawntel Brown Oklahoma Watch

Recent controversy over a racist chant at a University of Oklahoma fraternity focused attention on the state’s race relations. But the numbers beneath the headlines perhaps cast a longer shadow.

By almost every metric, blacks struggle in most of the quality-of-life factors in the state. Oklahoma is first in the nation, per capita, for blacks to die at the hands of police officers among states reporting. Blacks are about half as likely to own a home, are more likely to go to prison, less likely to go to college and less likely to graduate.

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Veterans
7:00 am
Sun March 8, 2015

State VA Secretary: Department Will Improve Care for Veterans

Maj. Gen. Myles Deering
Credit wikipedia.org

The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs plans to expand mental health services, improve its seven long-term care facilities and increase educational and employment opportunities for veterans, the state’s new Secretary for Veterans Affairs said this week.

Ret. General Myles Deering said Thursday he would identify “as many veterans as possible” in Oklahoma and develop new programs to provide better health care, support and employment opportunities.

“I want to leave this agency in better shape than I found it,” Deering said.

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Education
2:00 pm
Sat March 7, 2015

Senator Ties Education Savings Accounts To AP History Ban

State Sen. John Sparks (D-Norman)
Credit Oklahoma Senate

A Democratic state senator who opposes a bill creating education savings accounts is proposing three amendments that appear to take a shot at other recent Republican legislation.

The amendments involve drug testing parents and bans on Advanced Placement U.S. history courses and Common Core standards materials.

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Education
11:26 am
Sat March 7, 2015

Superintendent: State Could Pioneer New School Measure

Joy Hofmeister, superintendent of public instruction, listens to a question from the audience during the \"Oklahoma Watch-Out\" forum on March 3, 2015.
Ilea Shutler Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma Schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she knows of no school grading system in the nation that she likes and believes Oklahoma can develop its own pioneering system to measure school performance.

However, she said revising the controversial A through F grading system is not an immediate priority. She is focused now on a “crisis” with keeping and hiring teachers and trying to add more days to the school year.

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