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All articles by Carly Putnam

Oklahoma DHS is about to run out of money to pay for care of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities

by | March 22nd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (2)

There are honest arguments and discussions to be had about the place and role of government. However, we generally agree that the government has an important role in protecting the lives and health of Americans who aren’t able to protect themselves, including those who are elderly or have significant disabilities.

However, in Oklahoma, years of budget cuts have now compromised our Department of Human Services’ ability to fulfill this core function of government. As a result, thousands of Oklahomans who are elderly or have disabilities could lose access to vital services in just a few months. Without a supplemental appropriation, DHS doesn’t have the funds to pay providers for the care of more than 25,000 Oklahomans after April.

continue reading Oklahoma DHS is about to run out of money to pay for care of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities

House Republican health bill would devastate Oklahomans’ access to care

by | March 20th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (2)

This post has been updated to reflect amendments released on March 20.

Congressional Republicans finally have the opportunity to make good on their longstanding promise to repeal and replace the health law. In campaign rhetoric, they promised they could bring better, more affordable health care to Americans. Unfortunately, the replacement they’ve developed, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), doesn’t live up to that rhetoric. In reality, it would decimate historic health coverage gains in Oklahoma, leave the state on the hook for millions in Medicaid funding, and effectively double the uninsured rate by 2026. Here’s how.

continue reading House Republican health bill would devastate Oklahomans’ access to care

In The Know: As State Budgets Falter, Oklahoma Turns to Other States to Fight Its Most Dangerous Wildfires

by | March 17th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

As State Budgets Falter, Oklahoma Turns to Other States to Fight Its Most Dangerous Wildfires: Crews have worked for more than a week to contain a massive wildfire that has torched more than a thousand square miles and killed one person and thousands of head of livestock in northwestern parts of Oklahoma. State budget cuts mean Oklahoma increasingly depends on other states to fight its largest and most dangerous wildfires [StateImpact Oklahoma].

Oklahoma Senate rejects unpaid family leave extension: The Oklahoma Senate has rejected a measure that would give some parents more time to spend with their newborn or adopted children. Senate Bill 549 would have pushed state employees’ pregnancy and adoption leave allowance past the federal 12-week minimum. State Sen. David Holt, the bill’s author, said he wants to give a mother and father at least 20 weeks of time to spend with their child [NewsOK].

Local Agencies Face Cuts Under Proposed Federal Budget: President Donald Trump is outlining a wide range of federal budget cuts in order to make way for more defense spending. In the 60 pages of his “America First” plan, Trump shows where he would cut in order to make $54 billion dollars available to the defense department. Some of the hardest hit would be farmers, workers in the energy sector, low-income families and seniors [NewsOn6].

continue reading In The Know: As State Budgets Falter, Oklahoma Turns to Other States to Fight Its Most Dangerous Wildfires

In a tight budget year, HB 1270 would grow administrative waste and punish families who try to save for the future

by | March 16th, 2017 | Posted in Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (1)

​Oklahoma legislators have big challenges this session to deal with another revenue failure and​ budget shortfall. Regular Oklahomans are struggling to support their families in a state where too many jobs still don’t pay a living wage.​​ In this context, you’d think our lawmakers would want to avoid squandering taxpayer money or demonizing families struggling to get by. Unfortunately, HB 1270, which has passed out of a House committee and awaits action by the full House, would simultaneously waste state dollars, punish families for trying to save for the future, and feed ugly, unfounded stereotypes about people ​making low wages.

continue reading In a tight budget year, HB 1270 would grow administrative waste and punish families who try to save for the future

In The Know: After voting to repeal the tax cut trigger, Senate rejects another bill delaying it

by | March 16th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

After voting to repeal the tax cut trigger, Senate rejects another bill delaying it: House Speaker Charles McCall said Tuesday he is unsure how much support there is in the House for a bill passed by the Senate that would eliminate a state income tax cut trigger. …Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday rejected an alternative piece of legislation that would have kept a tax cut trigger in place, but modified it so that a tax cut likely would not be triggered for years [NewsOK]. Ten states, including Oklahoma, have enacted tax cuts in recent years that are deferred to a future date based on state revenues reaching a certain level or rate of growth [OK Policy].

For the first time, lawmakers were found guilty of supplanting lottery funds for schools: Along with all of their other budget challenges, lawmakers this session will need to allocate an additional $10.1 million for the Education Lottery Trust Fund as the result of a determination made last month that lottery funds had been used to supplant rather than enhance education funding this year. Back in 2004, Oklahoma voters established the state lottery via two state questions [OK Policy].

Arrogant lawmakers think Oklahoma voters are stupid: Oklahoma voters are stupid and can’t be trusted to know what they’re doing, the state House of Representatives concluded Thursday. With only one vote to spare, the chamber passed House Bill 1482, which seeks to undo part of the progress made in November’s State Question 780. As amended, HB 1482 would make mere possession of illegal drugs within 1,000 feet of a school a felony [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

continue reading In The Know: After voting to repeal the tax cut trigger, Senate rejects another bill delaying it

The Weekly Wonk: “Small loan” bill would bring high costs, the progressive case for increasing the cigarette tax, and more

by | March 12th, 2017 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

On the OK Policy blog, Executive Director David Blatt explained how legislation creating a new kind of payday loan would push low-income families further into debt. Blatt pointed out that Oklahomans aren’t demanding new kinds of payday loans from lawmakers and wondered whose interests those lawmakers are representing in his Journal Record column. Learn more about HB 1913 and how to contact your legislators here. Policy Director Gene Perry made the progressive case for increasing the cigarette tax. 

Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman argued in favor of raising revenues in a guest blog post. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update lamented missed opportunities for criminal justice reform in the current Legislative session. 

OK Policy in the News

Blatt was quoted in a Journal Record article on HB 1913, which would create a new kind of predatory loan. This week, Mubeen Shakir cited OK Policy data in an op-ed imploring lawmakers not to further cut spending to vital public services, and the Tulsa World’s Editorial Board used our research in arguing against an income tax exemption bill

Upcoming Opportunities

We are now accepting applications for our fifth annual Summer Policy Institute (SPI). SPI brings together dozens of undergraduate and graduate students from across the state for a three and a half-day intensive policy training. The application deadline is May 26, 2017. Click here to learn more and apply

Weekly What’s That

Title I

Title I is a section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that provides federal funds to local school districts and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. Title I is meant to ensure that all children receive a high-quality education and reach proficiency on State academic achievement standards assessments. Read more.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“It’s really just a matter of common sense. Family caregivers save the state money. If they weren’t available and willing to take on these responsibilities, thousands more Oklahoma seniors would be in nursing homes at the state’s expense. . . . We urge the Oklahoma Legislature to fully fund DHS’ supplemental budget request of $42 million in support of our elders and family caregivers that rely on home and community based services such as adult day health. If the state doesn’t support them on the front end, it will likely be paying four times more to care for our elders on the back end.”

-LIFE Senior Services CEO Laura Kenny (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, Tulsa World

Wall Street is now saying what everyone in Oklahoma knows: The state’s credit is decaying because state Capitol leaders have failed to make wise fiscal choices for years.

After two years of budget failures, a succession of budget holes, and a continued reliance on one-time funding sources to keep the state solvent, S&P Global Ratings lowered the state’s general obligation bond debt rating from AA+ to AA last week. The agency also lowered its rating on the state’s appropriation debt from AA to AA-.

Numbers of the Day

  • -5.9% – Change in collections of court costs on felony cases in a sample of 9 Oklahoma district courts between 2003 and 2015. Collections of costs on civil cases rose 87.3% during the same period
  • 95,000 – Estimated unauthorized immigrant population in Oklahoma, 2014
  • -1.3% – Percentage point drop in Oklahoma’s prime-age employment to population ratio from 2015 to 2016, the third largest drop in the U.S.
  • 3.4% – Share of the Oklahoma labor force made up of unauthorized immigrants, 2014
  • -$4,642 – Average loss of tax credits to purchase insurance for Oklahoma consumers under the proposed Republican health care plan, a 62% decrease and the third biggest loss in the nation

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Are gains in black homeownership history? [Urban Institute]
  • Kansas Republicans Sour on Their Tax-Cut Experiment [The Atlantic]
  • The New Face of American Unemployment [Bloomberg]
  • Accounting for Violence: How to Increase Safety and Break Our Failed Reliance on Mass Incarceration [Vera Institute of Justice]
  • Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins [The Upshot]

In The Know: State House votes to reinstate drug felony voters axed on November ballot

by | March 10th, 2017 | Posted in Blog | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

State House votes to reinstate drug felony voters axed on November ballot: By the slimmest margin, the Oklahoma House of Representatives decided Thursday that voters might not have fully understood what they were doing when they passed a criminal justice referendum in November. With 51 votes, the bare minimum needed, the members passed House Bill 1482, by Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, which in its original form took a big hunk out of State Question 780, which reclassified many lesser drug and property felonies as misdemeanors [Tulsa World]. Learn more about HB 1482 and how to contact your Legislators here.

Missed opportunities for criminal justice reform this session (Capitol Updates): Legislators missed an opportunity with three bills that are now dormant for this session to make significant reforms in the criminal justice system. The bills were SB 364 and SB 369 by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and HB 1730 by Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa. The bills were casualties of the legislative deadline requiring bills to be passed out of the committee to which they were assigned in their house of origin by last Thursday. None of the three bills received a hearing in committee [OK Policy].

Payday loan legislation resurfaces: A measure that riled up consumer protection advocates and religious leaders this year died in committee, or so they thought. A measure that would allow what opponents call predatory lending practices has resurfaced in the other chamber [HB 1913]. For a few years now, cash advance companies have pushed for what they’ve called flex loans or installment loans. They increase the cap on small loans [Journal Record]. Learn more about HB 1913 and how to contact your Legislators about it here.

continue reading In The Know: State House votes to reinstate drug felony voters axed on November ballot

In The Know: Will more money come to education through the lottery? House approves measure that could generate $20M

by | March 9th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Advocacy Alert

This morning, the Oklahoma House of Representatives is expected to take up HB 1913, a bill being promoted by the payday loan industry that would authorize a new loan product that could change 17 percent monthly interest. OK Policy is concerned that these loans would cause greater hardship on the most financially vulnerable Oklahomans. Please see our advocacy alert to learn more about the bill and how to contact your legislator.

Today In The News

Will more money come to education through the lottery? House approves measure that could generate $20M: After years of lobbying by the state lottery commission and education officials, the House agreed to change the way lottery revenue is allocated. The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a measure that could generate about $20 million a year for education, although not necessarily teacher raises [Tulsa World]. Why didn’t the lottery solve Oklahoma’s education funding problems? [OK Policy]

North Tulsa, Panhandle lawmakers debate meaning of ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill: State Rep. Casey Murdock, a Republican from the far western edge of the Panhandle at Felt, said it didn’t occur to him that a bill called “The Blue Lives Matter in Oklahoma Act” [HB 1306] might be interpreted as having racial overtones. Rep. Regina Goodwin, from Tulsa’s near north side, informed Murdock otherwise [Tulsa World].

continue reading In The Know: Will more money come to education through the lottery? House approves measure that could generate $20M

In The Know: S&P lowers Oklahoma’s bond rating amid revenue failure

by | March 2nd, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

S&P lowers Oklahoma’s bond rating amid revenue failureTwo years of revenue failures, budget shortfalls and the use of one-time funds to close budget gaps led one of the nation’s major ratings agencies on Wednesday to downgrade the Oklahoma’s bond and appropriation debt rating. S&P Global Ratings issued a report that lowered the state’s general obligation bond debt rating from AA+ to AA. The agency also lowered its rating on the state’s appropriation debt from AA to AA- [Associated Press].

School Vouchers Effort Appears Dead This Legislative Session: A divisive school-choice proposal that would create state-funded education savings accounts allowing students to attend private schools is off the legislative agenda, at least for now. Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, pulled Senate Bill 560 from consideration on Wednesday, which appears to eliminate the possibility of school vouchers becoming law this session. The move was a bit of a surprise [Oklahoma Watch].

With reduced funding, DHS reviewing possible service cuts: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is maintaining a high level of child abuse investigations even against a bad economy and reduced state budget, department spokeswoman Sheree Powell said. That’s a silver lining due, in part, to a court settlement. A dark cloud hangs over DHS’ other services [Journal Record].

continue reading In The Know: S&P lowers Oklahoma’s bond rating amid revenue failure

In The Know: Real ID sent to Oklahoma governor’s desk

by | March 1st, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including the Legislative Primer and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Real ID sent to Oklahoma governor’s desk: Gov. Mary Fallin now has the chance to sign a bill creating a federally compliant Oklahoma identification card. The measure would bring Oklahoma ID cards and driver’s licenses into compliance with the Real ID Act, which requires certain security measures designed to protect against counterfeit IDs [NewsOK].

Lawmakers pass bill out of committee to spend millions on more screenings for Medicaid and SNAP recipients: The Welfare Reform Act of 2017 would dramatically increase how people are screened to receive Medicaid and SNAP benefits. The author of the bill told the Rules Committee on Tuesday that this is a preventative measure to make people don’t abuse the system. But opponents say it’s an expensive solution looking for a problem [KFOR]. HB 1270 would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services to create redundant administrative burdens for SoonerCare (Medicaid) and SNAP (food stamps) [OK Policy].

Oklahoma lawmaker says she won’t hear equal pay for women bill in committee after voting for it last year: A band of Oklahoma lawmakers have signed on to help shrink the pay gap between men and women, but one lawmaker is holding it up. Every woman in the House of Representatives has signed on as a coauthor, except for one. Rep. Elise Hall is the chair of the committee and refuses to hear the bill, despite voting for it last year. Oklahoma women make 73 cents for every dollar paid to men [KFOR]. The gender wage gap amounts to thousands of dollars that Oklahoma families don’t have to spend on food, rent, transportation, and other necessities, [OK Policy].

continue reading In The Know: Real ID sent to Oklahoma governor’s desk

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