A state representative who sued the state will soon receive the spending records on a COVID-19 relief program created by the governor in 2020.

The Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet program used $8 million in federal funds to provide low-income families grants to buy school supplies in the pandemic. Our reporting with The Frontier and a federal audit found significant unauthorized spending on furniture, electronics and other household items.

Rep. Logan Phillips, R-Mounds, said he was blocked from receiving records on how the state managed the program and spent the funds. In August, he filed a lawsuit against the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, alleging they violated the Open Records Act.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office says they did reply to Phillips’ records request and referred him to OMES. OMES says its staff tried to set up a meeting with Phillips but he didn’t show up.

Phillips said Tuesday he dismissed the lawsuit after the state agreed to provide the records.

“Movement in the right direction,” he said. “Once that’s in hand, we’ll start the research in diving through everything.” Phillips was first elected in 2018 and lost his Republican primary in June.

You can catch up on our previous reporting on Digital Wallet and, as always, I’d love to hear from you via email or on Twitter.

— Jennifer Palmer

Recommended Reading

  • A new poll shows a tight race for state superintendent of public instruction. Jena Nelson, a Democrat, leads by 5 points. [KOCO]
  • More than half of public school principals surveyed said they started the school year short-staffed. There were too few candidates for each job and many candidates weren’t qualified. [The Washington Post]
  • The state Board of Education approved a FY ’24 budget request that includes $5,000 teacher pay raises. The request now moves to the Legislature. [Tulsa World]
  • Book banning shuts down important conversations, an instrumental part of learning, writes a teacher in New York City. “Banning books that openly discuss racism, violence and human pain does not protect students from these realities, and only lessens their capacities to contend with them in nonfictional spaces.” [The Hechinger Report]

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