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Lunchtime Links | February 7

February 7, 2018 - 12:00pm CST

Here's what our policy experts are reading today (Links do not constitute endorsements).

Tulsa World: Nothing should be off the table as Oklahoma moves forward

By Frank Keating

I am a frustrated Oklahoman. We have suffered two revenue failures. We have done little to reduce the size of government and have done less to reform the bloat that we have. We want to give teachers a raise but we’ve given away the revenue base to the able-bodied on Medicaid, the wind industry and a cash-sucking public school and higher education bureaucracy that argues with straight faces that 500 school districts, scores of colleges and universities and off-campus campuses are spending our money prudently and educating our students well, despite the fact that our math, science and reading scores and graduation rates show us to be high on failure and low on achievement.

What to do?

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Oklahoma Growth and Opportunity Summit: Register today!

Grassroots Oklahomans don’t want to miss this exciting opportunity to hear from experts across the state on how our budget process works. What are the pitfalls and obstacles in creating a budget for the many agencies and departments within Oklahoma. Do tax credits benefit Oklahoma citizens? What influence does the Oklahoma state constitution have on our budget process?

The Oklahoma Growth and Opportunity Summit 2018, focuses on the facts behind Oklahoma’s state budget, and the sharing of knowledge to arm citizens with a better understanding of the budget process.

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The Oklahoman: Leftover criminal justice reform bill passes Oklahoma House

A criminal justice reform measure left dormant since last session was quickly advanced by the Oklahoma House on Tuesday, just a day after the Legislature returned to the Capitol.

House Bill 2281 would reduce penalties for 21 low-level property offenses, including bogus checks, forgery, embezzlement and other so-called “paper crimes.” The proposed changes include a tiered system of fines and jail time.

If a person's crime involves less than $1,000, they would only be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony and serve a year in jail, pay up to a $1,000 fine or both. Crimes valued at more than $1,000 would remain a felony.

The bill now heads to the Senate for final approval.

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The Oklahoman: Oklahoma state agency says it didn't overlook health department budget woes

An agency accused of ignoring financial problems at the Oklahoma State Department of Health said the former official who pointed the finger misconstrued a conversation between friends.

Mike Romero, who resigned as the Health Department's chief financial officer last week, said in a memo written Jan. 31 that some employees of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services knew the Health Department faced a financial shortfall but did nothing in response. Preston Doerflinger, interim commissioner of the Health Department, was head of OMES.

Extensive financial problems at the state Health Department came to light in October, when then-Commissioner Terry Cline revealed the department might not be able to cover payroll. Cline and several other officials resigned in the face of accusations they had presided over years of overspending, which had been covered by shifting around money.

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