Marshall Stewart

Public Radio 89.5-1 Reporter & All Things Considered anchor

Marshall Stewart comes to KWGS after more than 30 years in radio news. He’s been an anchor, editor, producer, and reporter with a focus on government stories. He’s the recipient of numerous state awards and a 2006 Edward R. Murrow national award.

The Air Force veteran is a Ponca City native and Oklahoma State University alum and the proud father of three children and granddad to three granddaughters.

Ways to Connect

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The Senate Finance Committee passes a measure suspending 20 tax credits for two years. Some credits were removed from the bill, but some remaining like the earned income tax credit and the child care tax credit would most impact the poor and working poor. It’s a cause for concern by advocates who don’t want to see the poor bear the brunt of the cuts. David Blatt is with the Oklahoma Policy Institute, and he believes subsidies for oil and gas production and property tax exemptions for business need to be in the discussion.

The measure must still pass the full Senate.

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113 hospitalizations in Oklahoma and no deaths reported in the state so far this flu season…the latest statistics indicate a slow start to flu cases. The Tulsa Health Department’s Kaitlin Snider says it’s hard to say why there’s been such a mild season to this point. It may be because the vaccine is more effective than the last couple of years or more people may be getting shots and taking precautions.

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An American Lung Association report gives Oklahoma poor grades in dealing with tobacco and tobacco related illness. Some progress has been made, but Oklahoma’s American Lung Association Director Jeremy Hughey says more must be done to just get us to where most other states are already.

The state received a D in smoke-free air and an F in tobacco taxes. Governor Fallin has proposed a hike of a $1.50 a pack, which could improve Oklahoma’s grade in the tobacco taxes area. Hughey says Oklahoma also  needs a comprehensive statewide smoke-free law.

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A resolution is passed to get Tulsa County’s share of Vision Renewal on an April 5th ballot. Commissioners okay a resolution asking for one-half of a tenth of a penny for county capital projects. Commissioner Ron Peters says it’s only a portion of the money expected because of a compromise worked out with the city of Tulsa.

The .05% sales tax would provide 140-million in capital needs. The county would also get 30-million from the city of Tulsa for Expo Square, and between 15 and 20 million from excess 2025 Vision funds.

Air Guard

Tulsa city leaders include nearly $9-and-a-half million dollars in the Vision proposal for upgrades to the Air National Guard base here. It will help in the effort to position Tulsa as a location for the next generation fighter aircraft, the F-35. They would replace the currently flying F-16's beginning in 2022. Colonel Brent Wright, Vice-Wing Commander of the 138th Fighter Wing, says it could mean millions in economic impact, and a home for the 12-hundred airmen in Tulsa for years to come.

KWGS News

Tulsa area leaders agree on priorities they’d like to see lawmakers pass in the upcoming session. The OneVoice agenda is the work of regional business, civic, education, and government leaders. One member of the group is Wes Mitchell of H.P. Enterprises, who says education, especially the teacher shortage, is at the top of the list. He says it must be addressed despite a $900-million shortfall. He says the state will continue to lose teachers as long as pay is the lowest in the region, and funding continues to be sliced at the state level.

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Oklahoma’s unemployment rate dropped from 4.2 to 4.1 from November to December. It sounds like good news, but while a household survey shows more people working, a business survey shows several thousand job losses. Lynn Gray with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says, not unexpectedly, the hardest hit sectors are related to the oil and gas industry.

The state has gone from over 63-thousand oil and gas jobs in 2014, to around 50-thousand in 2015, a drop of nearly 20%.

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The number of Oklahomans who are financially secure drops in the latest national rankings. A report from the Corporation for Enterprise Development says while the national unemployment rate is dropping, in Oklahoma, there’s been little improvement in the number of people stuck in low wage jobs. Kasey Wiedrich is co-author of the report. A key factor is home ownership, and in Oklahoma, Wiedrich says the number of whites owning homes far outstrips the number owned by people of color.

Oklahoma State Capitol

The Republican state senate Finance Chairman says lawmakers should consider delaying the income tax cut that went into effect January 1st. Tulsa Senator Mike Mazzei believes it’s a prudent option given the state’s dire financial predicament. Tulsa area Representative Glen Mulready, also a Republican, agrees. He doesn’t want to eliminate the income tax reduction, but says a delay or postponement until better financial times is reasonable.

KWGS News

A pretty good crowd despite the cold for Tulsa’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. Many waited in their cars until almost the minute the parade passed by, but several thousand still braved the bitter cold for the annual event. Parade Director Carmen Pettie says this year’s theme is ‘One race, the human race.’ She says the theme is especially important this year given recent events that show a racial divide continues in America all these years after the civil rights leader’s death.

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