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.

Oklahoma Watch

When U.S. Department of Justice investigators inspected the Oklahoma County Detention Center in April 2007, they discovered that severe overcrowding was causing significant harm to detainees. 

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

About two-thirds of Oklahoma prison workers and just under half of the inmates have opted not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine from the state Department of Corrections, a sign that vaccine hesitancy remains high and some facilities may not reach the immunity threshold necessary to prevent future outbreaks. 

— by Paul Monies, Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma officials are expected to sharply curtail release of information related to the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, taking down the numbers of infections, deaths and recoveries in nursing homes, ZIP codes, cities and small counties, said a health department source familiar with the decision.

The decision to stop publishing detailed data at the local level coincides with the expiration of the state’s Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act, which ended at midnight Sunday.

Oklahoma Watch

The state’s largest education association called on teachers Thursday to return to their classrooms after concluding that further attempts to convince lawmakers to find more money for public education would be futile.

Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said the nearly two-week-long teacher walkout should be seen as a “victory” since it or the threat that preceded it helped secure teacher pay raises and millions in new funding for schools.

Winners and Losers in the Failed Vote on Tax Package

Nov 9, 2017
Oklahoma Watch

In the end, the backing of more than 45 health-care, education and public-policy advocacy groups – along with the support of a bipartisan group of current and former state leaders – wasn’t enough Wednesday.

FULL DETAILS: Winners and Losers in the New State Budget

May 27, 2017
Jeff Raymond-Oklahoma Watch

After months of worries that lawmakers wouldn’t be able to close an $878 million budget hole, the Legislature narrowly passed a series of revenue-raising bills that provide enough money to avoid drastic cuts to state agencies.

Few lawmakers – even among Republicans – said it was a perfect budget. It didn’t include any money for teacher raises. It slashed higher education funding by $30 million. It will require many state agencies to make cuts of around 4 percent. And Democrats have raised constitutional concerns about the approval process.

Oklahoma Watch

A big investment tax break with a tangled legal history is under scrutiny as state officials search for ways to address Oklahoma’s budget crisis.

The Oklahoma capital gains deduction allows individual investors and businesses to avoid paying state income taxes on all profits from sales of ownership interests in Oklahoma-based firms or real estate.

It encompasses a wide range of transactions, from selling a few shares of common stock to selling an entire business or property.

Voter turnout for Tuesday's presidential primary in Oklahoma is expected to be above normal, according to the State Election Board. That’s good news in a state that has seen a steady decline over the years in voter participation.

But changes are being made and proposed to improve the way Oklahomans can register to vote and cast a ballot, albeit slowly for some.

The Legacy of the OKC Bombing

Apr 19, 2015
Oklahoma Watch

Jon Hansen, former Oklahoma City Assistant Fire Chief Rescue at the Murrah SiteCredit Oklahoma WatchEdit | Remove

What does the Oklahoma City bombing mean now, two decades later? Will the memory and meaning of April 19, 1995, gradually recede into a distant echo?

Prisoners of Debt: Justice System Imposes Steep Fines, Fees

Feb 1, 2015
Oklahoma Watch

Darlene Lorenz was released from prison seven years ago.

The Tulsa woman had spent a decade in the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud on various drug and firearms charges. Her conviction capped several years of run-ins with the law. Lorenz said she was arrested more than 80 times.

“It was crazy,” Lorenz said. “I was the world’s worst drug dealer.”

Oklahoma is one of only seven states in the nation where revenues available for appropriation are falling below expectations despite growth in the broader economy, according to a newly released survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The conference, in its Spring 2014 State Budget Update, attributed Oklahoma's revenue shortfall primarily to an unanticipated decline in corporate tax collections. It said the same problem is creating budget difficulties in Delaware and Tennessee.

Oklahoma Watch

Teacher pay and school accountability were among the biggest topics discussed during a community forum Wednesday evening tackling issues facing Oklahoma public-school teachers.

A panel of educators, joined by other teachers and representatives from education and public-policy groups in the audience, talked about the challenges they see in schools and classrooms on a daily basis.

Federal investigators are looking into allegations against a Tulsa halfway house that resulted in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections pulling its inmates from the facility, Oklahoma Watch has learned.

Edward Evans, acting director of the Corrections Department, told legislators at a House public-safety subcommittee meeting Tuesday that the federal government was investigating issues at the Avalon Correctional Services facility in Tulsa.

Apprehension and optimism abound in Oklahoma as the Affordable Care Act shifts into higher gear with the opening of the federally-run health-care marketplace on Oct. 1.