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PM NewsBrief: Dec. 8, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Friday, December 8, 2023.

Update On New Private School Tax Credit Program

Oklahoma’s new Parental Choice Tax Credit program is boasting big numbers, despite a rocky rollout.

The Parental Choice Tax Credit program was passed by the legislature this spring and gives families up to $7,500 per student for private school expenses and $1,000 for homeschool expenses.

Last week, the tax commission delayed the program’s launch due to slowdowns in getting necessary forms out to parents.

But once the initiative began in full Wednesday, interest in it soared.

According to the governor’s office, within the first hour and a half of the launch, the OTC received over 30,000 applications.

Approximately 140 schools are registered to participate.

Priority consideration is given to applicants with household incomes under $150,000.

Taxpayers must apply by Feb. 5 to receive priority consideration, which they can do at parentalchoice.ok.gov.

In a statement, Governor Kevin Stitt said “School choice should be for everyone, not just the rich… It is amazing to see the demand for this program, and I hope the legislature will consider ways to allow more families to apply for this tax credit in the future.”

Change In Senior Centers In Oklahoma City

The YMCA Lincoln Park Senior Center has closed its doors after 37 years.

The closure comes as Northeast Oklahoma City pivots towards the recently completed MAPS 3 Senior Health & Wellness Center.

The center celebrated its opening Friday. It is located at NE 36th and Lincoln.

To commemorate the old center’s legacy, a silent auction will be held Monday through Wednesday next week.

Members will be able to bid on items and memorabilia. All proceeds will go towards the future development of senior scholarships.

Six Arrested Following Allegations Of Abuse Greer Center

Six people have been arrested following allegations of abuse at a facility for people with developmental disabilities in Enid.

In a press conference, DHS shared new information about alleged abuse at the Greer Center in Enid.

Allegations stemming back from April of last year of patients being beaten and “waterboarded” by staff have led to the arrests of six former Greer Center employees as well as the termination of eight staff members, the suspension of four more staff members, and the resignation of the facility administrator.

Fifty of the Greer Center’s 52 beds remain filled, but five patients have asked to be moved to a different facility.

Additionally, The Frontier reports a former employee of the Greer Center claims some of her former coworkers retaliated against her after reporting the abuse allegations by hanging flyers with her photo and phone number claiming she was available for sexual encounters around Enid.

Study: Tribal Communities At Risk For Flooding

A new study led by researchers at the University of Oklahoma estimates the state’s Native American communities are five times more likely to experience flooding by the end of the century.

The study, published by the American Meteorological Society, says tribal nations like the Otoe Missouria are 70% more susceptible to flooding than the general population in Oklahoma.

Farina King is a co-author of the study and the horizon chair of Native American Ecology and Culture at OU.

She said this research is the first step in connecting top climate scientists with tribal communities.

“It is essential that we take this time to build those relationships, trust, learn the specific protocols of those Indigenous communities. They are hit hard by in recent years of terrible flooding,” King said.

King said it is important to understand Native American perspectives and ways of knowing to come up with climate solutions.

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