Oklahoma Politics

Today marks the beginning of the 2016 legislative session for the State of Oklahoma, and rightly enough, the issue gathering the most attention is the nearly $1 billion gap in the state's budget -- an astounding figure, to be sure. But on today's StudioTulsa, we turn our attention in another important, equally unsettling direction. And it's not a matter of one single troubling issue, actually, but rather a multitude of infractions.

As 2016 gets underway, the most vexing question confronting Oklahoma legislators, policymakers, and various state agency heads is...how will the Sooner State solve the glaring budget hole that Oklahomans will face this year -- and next year. State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger has declared a "revenue failure" for this year, resulting in a 3% cut to all state budgets funded by General Revenue -- and the preliminary projection of revenue for next year sees a shortfall of $900 million out of an approximately $7 billion state budget.

As our state's newly inaugurated legislative session continues, there's been no shortage of bills that've attracted attention from the national media -- for less than favorable reasons -- including bills that would ban "hoodies" or AP History classes, or those that would allow Oklahoma businesses to discriminate against their gay customers or else end civil marriages altogether. What we have not seen -- not yet, anyway -- is a responsible discussion of how to fill a $611 million shortfall in next year's budget.

News flash: Government is broken in Washington. Problems aren't being solved. New solutions aren't being put forward. "Compromise" (as has been so commonly observed) has become a dirty word. Or at least, such is the opinion of many of us. Indeed, poll after poll has found that a large majority of Americans believe government isn't working, and that it's -- on the contrary -- dominated by special interested and partisan gridlock. But...come to think of it...could your average American citizen do any better?

On May 23rd, the Oklahoma State Legislature approved HB 3399, a bill which would, if it became law, withdraw this state from the Common Core State Standards initiative. This bill is now on Gov. Mary Fallin's desk, awaiting her decision; the Governor has until June 7th to sign the bill into law, or veto it, or do nothing (in which case the bill will not take effect).

The Oklahoma Legislature will convene for this year's session on Monday, February 3rd, at noon. Which issues, both greater and lesser, will our state's lawmakers be focused on throughout 2014? We explore that multi-faceted question on this edition of StudioTulsa; our guest is David Blatt, executive director of the OK Policy Institute, which is "a non-partisan independent policy think-tank" you can learn more about here.

(Please note: This interview first aired about a year ago.) We are happy to welcome the acclaimed author (and fifth-generation Oklahoman) Rilla Askew back to our show. Askew received a 2009 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and she is a three-time recipient of the Oklahoma Book Award. Her latest novel, "Kind of Kin," is now being published in paperback; it first appeared in hardback in early 2013. Askew joins us to chat about this work.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we present the second in our two-part series of interviews with the candidates appearing on the ballot for Mayor in the upcoming November 12th general election here in the City of Tulsa. On today's program, we hear from Republican Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., the current Mayor of our city, who was elected to this post on November 10, 2009, and who is seeking re-election.

Mayoral Candidates on StudioTulsa

Oct 8, 2013
KWGS News

The candidates for mayor will debate the issues on today's StudioTulsa program. Recorded before the Tulsa Kiwanis yesterday, former Mayor Kathy Taylor says if elected Tulsa residents will be getting a refund.

 KATHY TAYLOR:  "It is time to get back to basics. In my first 100 days in office, I will work to refund the green waste fees."

File Photo

On this edition of StudioTulsa on Health, guest host Dr. John Schumann speaks with the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Hospital Association, Craig Jones. About one in three Oklahomans lack adequate health insurance across our state; this means that state hospitals end up administering about $500 million in uncompensated care each year. Why is this the case? And can these numbers be changed? Jones also discusses Oklahoma's refusal to expand Medicaid, and how that decision will affect our hospitals --- as well as its impacts on health outcomes and measurements.

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