All articles by Gene Perry

In The Know: Court monitors find Oklahoma has not made “good faith effort” to fix child welfare

by and | October 20th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

he Oklahoma Department of Human Services has not made a “good faith effort” at attracting new foster homes, bringing down worker caseloads, reducing shelter use for children older than 6, staffing the hotline and finding permanent homes for foster children, according to a report issued Wednesday by an independent oversight panel. You can read the full report here. On the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis discussed some recent efforts at the Capitol to look at child welfare, juvenile justice, and suicide prevention. The Oklahoma State Board of Education approved a new $3.4 million no-bid contract with New Hampshire-based testing company Measure Progress to conduct winter testing in Oklahoma schools.

Public Radio Tulsa discussed levels of participation in parent-teacher conferences at Oklahoma schools and research on whether this matters. The Tulsa World examined a new effort by ImpactTulsa to coordinate everyone working to improve Tulsa schools. We previously discussed this effort on the OK Policy Blog. The okeducationtruths blog examined the recent decision by State Regents to certify PASS standards, which Oklahoma reverted to after repealing Common Core, as college and career ready. The OK Policy Blog discussed a new report showing Oklahoma continues to lead for making the largest education cuts in the nation since the recession. Tulsa World columnist Ginnie Graham suggested that legislators ought to have their session in classrooms to see the effect their decisions have had on public schools.

Dozens of state agency directors quietly received raises averaging 18 percent during the last fiscal year, according to a report released by the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Oklahoma’s relationship with tribal nations has warmed in recent decades with economic success, but tensions are rising over education funding and sales taxes. Tulsa World editor Wayne Greene discussed what Oklahoma is giving up by refusing federal dollars to expand health coverage. A series of public safety summits by Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s will start by focusing on prescription drug abuse. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed why prescription drugs are Oklahoma’s biggest drug problem.

An Oklahoma County district judge was asked Friday to put a controversial abortion bill on hold pending the outcome of a legal challenge. Amid frequent earthquakes, the US Geological Survey is installing 4 seismographs around Cushing, Oklahoma. There were ten earthquakes in Cushing last week, the two largest at 4.0 and 4.3 magnitude, and one geologist said the earthquakes are a potential catastrophe at the town where up to 46 million barrels of crude oil are stored. As oil prices drop, the number of rigs exploring for oil and gas has begun to decline in Oklahoma. Oklahoman reported William Crum discussed how anyone can vote by mail in Oklahoma.

The Number of the Day is the number of new foster homes approved by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, 27 fewer than the previous fiscal year and nowhere near their goal. In today’s Policy Note, a Miami Herald in-depth report looks at how America’s racialized view of poverty bears no resemblance to reality — the vast majority of those in poverty are white.

continue reading In The Know: Court monitors find Oklahoma has not made “good faith effort” to fix child welfare

Oklahoma continues to lead U.S. for deepest cuts to education

by | October 16th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (1)

education-cutsLast year, Oklahoma had the dubious honor of having made the deepest cuts to school funding in the nation since the start of the recession in 2008. Now an update from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that our lead has widened. Adjusted for inflation, Oklahoma’s per student school formula funding has dropped 23.6 percent over the past six years, significantly more than in any other state.

Oklahoma is one of 20 states that continued to cut education funding this year, even as the economy recovers, leaving per student spending $857 below pre-recession levels after inflation. Although the Legislature and Governor Fallin provided a $41 million increase to the school funding formula in this year’s budget, it was not enough to keep up with inflation and rising enrollment. This year Oklahoma’s state aid funding per student dropped another $21 after inflation. Total state appropriations for the support of schools is $172 million below what it was in fiscal year 2008, even before accounting for inflation.

That may come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following what is happening in our schools. As Booker T. Washington High School teacher John Waldron wrote last week on our blog, schools have been left fighting with each other over too few resources, as class sizes increase and entire programs are eliminated. Oklahoma’s standards for class sizes and up-to-date textbooks were suspended when the recession hit. Since then lawmakers have repeatedly voted to suspend the standards because schools still can’t afford to meet them. Kids are using textbooks without covers or held together with duct tape. Schools began this academic year with more than 800 teacher vacancies statewide, and they’re still struggling to hire people because teachers can get much better pay in any of our neighboring states.

“At a time when the nation is trying to produce workers with the skills to master new technologies and adapt to the complexities of a global economy, states should be investing more — not less — to ensure our kids get a strong education,” said Michael Leachman, director of state fiscal research at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and co-author of the report released today.

The Center’s full report can be found here.

OK PolicyCast: Episode 11

by | October 10th, 2014 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

radio micThe OK PolicyCast discusses the most important news in Oklahoma and what it means. This week, we’ll speak with Carly Putnam about economic opportunities for women in Oklahoma, and what we can do to make it easier for women to get ahead. Also this week’s headlines, numbers of the day, and more!

Download this week’s episode here or play it in your browser:

Study: Same-sex marriage will boost Oklahoma income tax revenue

by | October 9th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)
Photo by Jose Antonio Navas.

Photo by Jose Antonio Navas.

Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Oklahoma, there’s one big question on everyone’s mind: how is it going to affect state tax revenue?

Okay, maybe that’s not on everyone’s mind, but researchers at Tulane, Vanderbilt, and Western Kentucky Universities have given it a lot of thought. Their research published earlier this year in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management makes an extremely detailed examination of how same-sex marriage will affect state and federal taxes in Oklahoma and across the nation. They also provide a hint on how many same-sex couples in the state may take advantage of their new right to marry.

continue reading Study: Same-sex marriage will boost Oklahoma income tax revenue

In The Know: Voter registration deadline for November elections is tomorrow

by and | October 9th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Oklahomans who want to cast a ballot in the Nov. 4 general election have until tomorrow to register to vote. The OK Policy Blog and David Blatt’s Journal Record Column discussed Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s lawsuit that seeks to take health insurance away from 55,000 Oklahomans. About six weeks into the school year, school districts across the state still have teacher vacancies. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has begun studying how to boost pipeline safety throughout the state. The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration threatened to intervene if Oklahoma does not beef up its pipeline regulations.

Two news organizations are suing Oklahoma prison officials for preventing reporters from viewing portions of an execution that went awry in the spring and are asking a federal judge to stop new state execution protocols from going into effect. Only two of the nearly 1,500 inmates granted an early release by the state Corrections Department since March have returned to prison after they were set free. More than half of Oklahoma’s public college presidents went to the state Capitol to tell lawmakers not to allow guns on campus

A House interim study once again looked at a measure to ban texting while driving, which has failed multiple times in the Legislature. Oklahoma City has launched a new smartphone app for reporting problems to the city and finding public meetings. Oklahoma has adopted emergency regulations to govern health care navigator programs that help Oklahomans find coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The OK Policy Blog previously argued that the new regulations are unnecessary and could hamper efforts to reduce the number of uninsured.

Refilling prescription painkillers will now be more difficult after new rules went into effect this week that put popular hydrocodone medications in a stricter drug class. Tulsa is hosting a drug take-back day on October 18 for people to dispose of unwanted prescription medications. Governor Fallin’s office declined to issue a state of emergency declaration requested by Rep. Mike Ritze due to “the potential spread of Ebola.” Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said that “declaring a state of emergency when no Oklahomans are actually sick would be premature.”

The Number of the Day is the drop in crude oil prices at the Cushing oil hub since mid-June. In today’s Policy Note, Vox examines why oil prices are plummeting and what that could mean for the economy.

continue reading In The Know: Voter registration deadline for November elections is tomorrow

In The Know: Same-Sex married couples must wait for new drivers’ licenses

by and | October 8th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Although same sex marriage is now legal in Oklahoma, couples seeking to change their name on state identification cards, such as a drivers’ licenses, may have to wait a few days as the Department of Public Safety and tag agencies work out a process. An attorney told NewsOK that private sector employers with self-funded health plans still can decide whether to extend health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses. With same-sex couples on front pages across the state, Oklahoman reporter Chris Casteel looked back to the first time the paper did a feature on gay and lesbian Oklahomans in 1983.

Almost simultaneously last night, debates were held for the state superintendent’s race, the open US Senate race, and local judicial candidates. U.S. Rep. James Lankford and state Sen. Connie Johnson differed on drug policy, same-sex marriage and use of military force as they brought their U.S. Senate campaigns to Oklahoma State University. The candidates for state superintendent squared off on the issues of Common Core standards, standardized testing and teacher pay at a debate in Claremore. The College Board is releasing SAT scores for the graduating class of 2014, and the news is good for Oklahoma, even though fewer students showed up to take the test. You can see the full Oklahoma SAT report here.

A state lawmaker said she will reintroduce legislation to require a DNA sample from everyone arrested for a felony in Oklahoma. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed how this kind of indiscriminate DNA testing can lead to innocent Oklahomans being wrongfully convicted. NewsOK reported that law enforcement agencies neglected to perform DNA tests on tens of thousands of people convicted of serious misdemeanors, despite a provision in state law for such testing. Inmates inside Okmulgee County jail are threatening to resume rioting due to severe overcrowding. Fox 25 reported on new hopes that Oklahoma will implement real corrections reforms. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed signs that Governor Fallin may begin supporting criminal justice reform.

The OK Policy Blog discussed how there are limited economic opportunities for women in Oklahoma and what we can do to fix that. Oklahoma Watch launched an online data center to search for useful and revealing facts about public agencies, cities and towns, and the state as a whole. The Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah has been gifted a heard of bison and will tend to the animals for the first time since the 1970s.

The Number of the Day is percentage of Oklahoma students who took the SAT in 2014 who met the SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post discussed a surprising Obamacare experiment that is improving health in low-income communities while saving taxpayers $24 million last year.

continue reading In The Know: Same-Sex married couples must wait for new drivers’ licenses

In The Know: Same-sex marriage now is legal in Oklahoma

by and | October 7th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Gay and lesbian couples began marrying in Oklahoma after a surprise announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court that could quickly expand same-sex marriage to nearly two-thirds of the states. Among the first to get married were two Tulsa women who filed the lawsuit against Oklahoma’s same-sex marriage ban nearly ten years ago. SCOTUSBlog examined the implications of the Supreme Court’s action across the country.

Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller says Oklahoma’s gross revenue collections in September grew by more than 8 percent over receipts from the same month last year and that the growth was the highest monthly growth rate since April 2013. Gross revenue is everything the state brings in before paying back tax refunds and diverting revenue to mandatory programs. Treasurer Miller argued against an idea suggested by both Gov. Fallin and her challenger Rep. Joe Dorman to move Oklahoma to a two-year budget.

On the OK Policy Blog, we discussed warning signs that state leaders may overreact to a recent killing in Moore in ways that harm all of us. Curtis McCarty, who spent 19 years on Oklahoma’s death row before being exonerated by DNA evidence, spoke with Wichita Public Radio about his wrongful conviction and life behind bars.

Flu season is beginning and health officials recommend everyone older than 6 months get the flu vaccine. Debates and forums involving candidates for U.S. Senate, state superintendent of public instruction and Tulsa County district judge will be held this evening. The Together Tuesday tour by Together Oklahoma, a coalition led by OK Policy, is coming to Woodward this evening. The tour is a series of forums on the state of democracy in Oklahoma and how we can develop a state budget and tax system that better reflects our values. The City of Duncan, which is already facing a severe drought, is now dealing with contamination of its drinking water that violates federal standards.

The Number of the Day is the number of endangered species in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, John Oliver offers a revealing look at civil forfeitures, a process which allows state and federal government to seize individuals’ property without convicting them of a crime.

continue reading In The Know: Same-sex marriage now is legal in Oklahoma

Don’t let fear make us dumb

by | October 6th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice | Comments (1)
Photo by Anthony Gullen.

Photo by Anthony Gullen.

Recently a terrible crime has made the headlines in Oklahoma. Shortly after being fired from a food processing plant in Moore, Alton Nolen attacked two of his co-workers with a knife, beheading one and seriously injuring another.

The details of the crime are awful, and the perpetrator should be punished to the full extent of the law. However, our reaction to this incident could have repercussions far beyond Alton Nolen, his victims, and their families. There are already signs that state leaders may overreact in ways that harm all of us.

continue reading Don’t let fear make us dumb

In The Know: Oklahomans begin lining up before midnight for free medical care

by and | October 6th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Oklahomans began lining up before midnight for a free medical care event by Remote Area Medical Oklahoma. Jaclyn Cosgrove shared stories from the event in a multi-part series for The Oklahoman. Oklahoma’s overdose death toll dipped slightly in 2013, from 850 to 821 deaths. About three-quarters of all overdose deaths in the state involve prescription drugs. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed why prescription drug abuse is Oklahoma’s biggest drug problem. NewsOK reported on how the city of Moore is responding to its latest tragedy to bring national attention.

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission has put a moratorium on ethics complaints during election season, which some are complaining allows candidates to skirt campaign laws. An Attorney General’s Office opinion has deemed electronic signatures on voter registration applications invalid. Electronic signature devices have been used to help people register to vote over the internet. Currently 27 states offer or are planning to implement online voter registration, but Oklahoma is not one of them. Oklahoma is planning to resume executions on November 13, but death penalty experts are questioning whether the state will be prepared to implement changes following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett. The Oklahoman outlined the planned changes to Oklahoma’s execution protocol.

Oklahoma Muslims are seeking to improve outreach to push back against the hateful rhetoric being spread by state Representative John Bennett. The Tulsa World reported that the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City has received several threats of violence against Muslims after Bennett called them a “cancer that needed to be cut out of America.” The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is sharing a presentation on how much it costs to raise children to try to reduce Oklahoma’s teen pregnancy rate, which is the second-highest in the nation. Gun rights activists are pushing to make Oklahoma the latest state to legalize concealed carry of guns on college and university campuses.

Hundreds of rape kits have been collected from victims but not tested by the Tulsa Police Department due to lack of funding. Oklahoma wheat growers are calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand subsidized crop insurance to help their businesses survive the state’s ongoing drought. The Number of the Day is the growth in Oklahoma’s Asian-American population from 2000-2010. In today’s Policy Note, KGOU examined a new program that doubles how food stamp recipients can purchase at farmers’ markets.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahomans begin lining up before midnight for free medical care

OK PolicyCast: Episode 10

by | October 3rd, 2014 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

radio micThe OK PolicyCast brings you the most important news in Oklahoma, and what it means. This week we talk with David Blatt about the state of Oklahoma’s democracy. It’s election season, but a whole lot of Oklahomans aren’t voting or participating in any way in choosing who will take office. What’s holding us back?

We also share the top headlines, numbers of the week, and more.

You can download the podcast here or play it in your browser:

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