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Capital City: Republicans strike deal on state boards

Good Wednesday morning. 

First up -- Oklahoma City Public Schools on Tuesday announced new assignments for more than two dozen principals, a day after the school board passed a plan to close 15 schools and reconfigure or relocate 17 others. You can read more here

REPUBLICANS REACH AGREEMENT ... Following weeks of closed-door negotiations, Republican leaders have reached agreement over a plan to restructure five state boards, while also giving the governor hiring power over agency directors.

House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said at a Tuesday news conference that they expected a package of five bills to move quickly through each chamber.

Gov. Kevin Stitt, who was also at the news conference, endorsed the proposal.

“We should have these (bills) on my desk next week,” Stitt said.

The proposed legislation would give the governor five appointments to agency boards, while the Senate and House would each have two. The impacted agencies would be the state Department of Transportation, the Health Care Authority, the Office of Juvenile Affairs, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

Democrat response: “By taking away the decision-making power of our boards, we are moving decisions from a venue that falls under the Open Meetings Act and is in view of the public to a venue that is literally behind closed doors and lacking transparency," said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman. This plan isn’t about providing transparency. It is about acquiring power.”

EDUCATION FUNDING ... Oklahoma lawmakers may have improved state funding for public schools more than any other state in the country in 2018, but according to a new national comparison, only Texas is worse when it comes to stacking up current state aid levels against those provided before recession struck a decade ago, reports the Tulsa World

After adjusting for inflation, analysts found that Oklahoma’s state aid to schools is still 15 percent less for the current fiscal year than it was in 2008, despite the fact that lawmakers increased state aid funding per student by 19 percent, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, or CBPP.

MEDICAL POT UPDATE ... A bill that would provide Oklahoma with a medical marijuana regulatory framework unanimously cleared a state Senate committee on Tuesday following its easy passage by the House of Representatives last month. The Tulsa World has more

Thanks for reading. Got questions, suggestions or complaints? Email me at bfelder@oklahoman.com. 

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›