All articles by Gene Perry

Yes, most Oklahomans don’t want a tax cut

by | April 23rd, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (1)

OK Policy recently commissioned a scientific poll that showed a majority of Oklahoma voters oppose going forward with a tax cut at a time when the state is looking at a $611 million budget shortfall and lawmakers are planning more cuts to education and almost every other core public service. The poll shows that while just 27 percent of Oklahoma voters think the state has not cut taxes enough, a whopping 74 percent think Oklahoma is not spending enough on education.

Of course, that didn’t sit well with The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) and their closest allies, who advocate for deep tax cuts every year. They issued a press release questioning the poll’s validity. The criticisms don’t stand up to reality.

continue reading Yes, most Oklahomans don’t want a tax cut

In The Know: Training expert says Oklahoma police laws need changes

by | April 23rd, 2015 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (1)

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.

 Oklahoma’s top law-enforcement trainer is pushing for changes to laws that allow volunteer reservists to serve a law enforcement officers with little training. A volunteer Oklahoma deputy charged in the shooting death of an unarmed man pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter and won approval for a controversial vacation to the Bahamas. Although execution by gas is being introduced in Oklahoma as a more humane method of capital punishment, Politico showed that this method has been tried before in the United States but was rejected after many botched executions.

The Tulsa County Jail has broken ground on an addition that includes specially designed pods for people suffering from mental illness. The new Oklahoma Director for Right on Crime wrote an op-ed encouraging the Legislature to reform the state’s extremely harsh sentencing laws. A large number of strict mandatory minimum prison sentences have played a role in Oklahoma’s sky high incarceration rate. The Oklahoman examined records of civil rights complaints against Oklahoma schools over the past few years.

On the OK Policy Blog, we discussed how Oklahoma may go back to automatic retention of all third graders who don’t pass a high-stakes reading test. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has purchased 1,000 cribs for families to help prevent sleep-related infant deaths. StateImpact Oklahoma shared an update on bills they are watching this year related to energy, water, and the environment. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed how Oklahoma excludes large numbers of poor families from finding a good quality of life. 

The Legislature sent to the governor bills that allow clergy and judges to refuse to officiate marriages on religious grounds. An association of Oklahoma corrections employees has filed a lawsuit against the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services over plans to stop allowing its members to pay dues by payroll deduction. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that county assessors who fail to raise the assessed value of a home during the tax year improvements are made cannot raise it in future years. Gov. Fallin has scheduled special elections for two state House seats in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

The Number of the Day is 63% – the percentage of Oklahoma residents who said they had a great deal or a fair amount of trust in state government when it comes to handling state problems. In today’s Policy Note, the Economic Policy Institute examines what policies have been shown to work and what policies don’t work when it comes to raising wages.

continue reading In The Know: Training expert says Oklahoma police laws need changes

In The Know: District audit details racial discrepancy in OKC schools suspensions

by | April 22nd, 2015 | Posted in 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.

An internal audit by Oklahoma City Public Schools shows a huge racial disparity in the rates of students being suspended from school. Twelve OKC elementary schools suspended more than 40 percent of their black students in 2011-2012. The Oklahoma Department of Education asked a testing vendor to deactivate a program that gave students immediate proficiency level scores, over concern about its demoralizing effect on students. The Oklahoma City Council called on the Legislature to head off further budget cuts at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.

OK Policy is now accepting applications for paid part-time or full-time summer interns. KJRH looked at the debate over whether Oklahoma should cancel or delay a planned tax cut when we’re looking at a $600 million budget shortfall. An online form to contact your legislators about the tax cut is available here. Oklahoma was second in the nation for job losses last month, behind only Texas. The Legislature has sent to Governor Fallin two proposals that would develop a system for evaluating tax breaks to determine their effectiveness.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey reported that it believes the majority of the earthquakes in central and north central Oklahoma have been triggered by wastewater disposal wells used in oil and gas exploration. Governor Fallin announced the launch of earthquakes.ok.gov, a website for sharing research, regulations, updates and news items related to Oklahoma’s recent earthquakes. Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, called for a moratorium on wastewater disposal wells in 16 counties experiencing the earthquake swarm.

More than two dozen people spoke before an overflow crowd in Stillwater on Monday as the city council considered whether to restrict oil and natural gas drilling in and near the city limits. The Legislature is considering bills that would take away cities’ rights to regulate drilling. The Wall Street Journal reported that a string of oil-field worker deaths, including one in Oklahoma, may be caused by asphyxiation or heart failure from inhaling hydrocarbon chemicals. A bill being considered in the Legislature has split Oklahoma’s small oil and gas producers from the larger operators in the state, with some alleging it would give large operators the right to steal oil.

The Oklahoma House defeated a resolution that would have added Oklahoma to the list of states petitioning Congress for a convention to alter the U.S. Constitution. Critics of the constitutional convention effort have warned that it could make radical changes to the Constitution and the outcome can neither be known nor controlled. The Oklahoma Senate approved legislation that would limit access by the public and media to audio and video recordings from law enforcement body cams or dash cams. Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill giving terminally ill patients access to certain medications that have not received full FDA approval.

Tulsa World columnist Ginnie Graham debunked eight myths about the food stamp program. Bobby Lorton, the former publisher of Tulsa World, announced plans for the May launch of a new media company in Tulsa. Attorney Chad Moody with “TheDrugLawyer.com” projected a giant marijuana leaf onto the state Capitol building Monday night to protest the state’s stand on the legalization of marijuana.

The Number of the Day is 49.6% – the percentage of the population of Cherokee County who identified as white and non-Hispanic in 2013, down from 55.2 percent in 2000. Cherokee County was one of two Oklahoma counties that became majority non-white since 2000. In today’s Policy Note, Stateline shares a Q&A on how the Great Recession has affected children.

continue reading In The Know: District audit details racial discrepancy in OKC schools suspensions

Are you our next summer intern?

by | April 21st, 2015 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (0)

446px-Uncle_Sam_(pointing_finger)We are pleased to offer two exciting opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students interested in Oklahoma public policy.

We are now accepting student applicants for a paid, part-time or full-time internship during the summer of 2015. Interns will be expected to work between 15 and 40 hours per week, depending on their schedules and availability. The position will be based in our Tulsa office, with occasional opportunities to work from home or school.

continue reading Are you our next summer intern?

In The Know: Gov. Fallin signs bill adding nitrogen gas as state execution method

by and | April 20th, 2015 | Posted in 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.

Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday signed a measure adding nitrogen gas to the list of execution methods. The Legislature passed a measure to allow nonviolent felons on probation to obtain a commercial driver’s license. Restrictions on driver’s licenses is just one of many barriers that Oklahoma puts up for Oklahomans with a felony record. On the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis discussed how the action is shifting to conference committees in the final third of the Legislative session.

University of Oklahoma economist Robert Dauffenbach said Oklahoma’s two largest metropolitan areas are well positioned to wade through the oil and gas industry slowdown, and Oklahoma is much less dependent on the industry than in the 1980s. Three bills remain alive in the Legislature that could take away local control over oil and gas drilling from cities and counties. Undocumented immigrants living in Oklahoma pay about $76 million in state and local taxes, according to a report issued this week by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. You can read the full report here.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office gave no advance warning to the busy neighborhood store where it set up a sting operation that resulted in the shooting death of Eric Harris, nor the elementary school to the south where kids were playing outside. Protesters took to Tulsa streets again Friday evening, this time asking the Tulsa County Sheriff to fire two deputies. The Tulsa Voice shared an interview with an attorney who is suing the Tulsa County Sheriff on behalf of Eric Harris’s family. Training records do not show that Tulsa County Reserve Deputy Robert Bates qualified on a revolver he carried during the fatal shooting, and his gun was not on the list of firearms deputies can carry on duty. Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel said he can’t envision his department without volunteer deputies operating as law enforcement officers.

Tulsa County’s immunization rate for 2014 is below the state and national averages and falls well short of the state’s goal for 2020. Gov. Mary Fallin has nominated Robert J. “Bob” Ross, president and CEO of the Inasmuch Foundation and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, to a seat on the Oklahoma State Board of Education. After months of fighting for racial equality on campus, OU students with the group OU Unheard will receive receive the Angie Debo Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma.

The Number of the Day is 23 percent – the percentage of the state population potentially exposed to water exceeding a contaminant limit in 2013-2014. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post shows that states refusing to accept federal funds for Medicaid expansion are leaving hundreds of thousands of mentally ill adults untreated.

continue reading In The Know: Gov. Fallin signs bill adding nitrogen gas as state execution method

In The Know: Tulsa County Sheriff supervisors told to falsify reserve deputy’s training records

by and | April 16th, 2015 | Posted in 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.

The Tulsa World reported that supervisors at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were ordered to falsify a reserve deputy’s training records, giving him credit for field training he never took and firearms certifications he should not have received. A deputy who made a callous comment to a man who had just been shot claims he did not hear the gunshot and didn’t know the man had been wounded. Ginnie Graham wrote that the incident has added to Oklahoma’s recent pattern of inspiring hashtags of shame on social media.

The Tulsa World editorial board wrote that a generous compensation package for new Superintendent Deborah Gist could create a perception problem with the district’s poorly paid teachers. Outgoing Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard wrote a NewsOK op-ed praising the district’s collaboration with Teach for America. With testing already underway, public schools are having troubling finding enough volunteer test monitors. Jenks Principal Rob Miller wrote that Oklahoma’s system of high-stakes testing resembles a coach being evaluated on a single game that he’s not allowed to attend at a school where every child is required to play football.

The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics is struggling to keep its doors open amid a funding crisis, as legislators discuss making even more cuts. Oklahoma Health Commissioner Terry Cline said there could be dire consequences if the Legislature doesn’t fund a new public health lab during the current session. A new poll shows that 60 percent of Oklahoma voters support delaying or canceling a planned income tax cut during the budget shortfall, and 74 percent of voters believe the state is not spending enough on education. Oklahomans can contact legislators about cancelling the tax cut using this online form.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column called on legislators to honor the memory of Rep. David Dank by taking real action to end wasteful tax breaks. The Oklahoma House has approved legislation that eliminates a tax credit for the state’s wind energy industry. Several issues related to wind power development have been lively topics of debate in this year’s Legislature. 

Oklahoma’s drug overdose death count set a new record in 2014, despite efforts to curtail overprescribing and raise public awareness of the crisis. Terminally ill patients in Oklahoma would have access to experimental medications that are not yet available in pharmacies under a bill that is heading to the governor’s desk.  The Senate voted to legalize cannabis oil for kids who have uncontrollable seizures. NewsOn6 reported on a couple struggling to get care for their autistic son, because Oklahoma is one of just 10 states that doesn’t require insurance companies to cover autism.

A bill to end restrictions on beer sales in Oklahoma has been sent to a conference committee, where it is expected to stay until next session. A bill that sets up a regulatory framework in Oklahoma for ridesharing programs such as Uber and Lyft passed the state Senate on Wednesday, but not before a provision protecting gay and transgender passengers from discrimination was removed. Tulsa’s updated zoning code could increase the amount of affordable housing in the city. A Seattle zoo has sent two elephants on their long journey to a new home in Oklahoma City after a federal appeals court declined to block the transfer.

The Number of the Day is 25.6% – the percentage of Oklahomans claiming itemized deductions on federal taxes in 2012. In today’s Policy Note, the Huffington Post reported that a federal law change finally allows Native American tribal courts to investigate and prosecute non-Native men who abuse Native women on reservations.

continue reading In The Know: Tulsa County Sheriff supervisors told to falsify reserve deputy’s training records

New poll: Majority of Oklahomans favor halting tax cut amid budget shortfall

by | April 15th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Press Releases, Taxes | Comments (1)

A new poll shows that 60 percent of Oklahoma voters support delaying or canceling the income tax cut scheduled for 2016, and only 33 percent still want the tax cut to go forward while the state has a large budget shortfall.

Before hearing any other information about the tax cut, 62 percent of Oklahoma voters said Oklahoma has cut the state income tax too much or the right amount, compared to just 27 percent who said it has not been cut enough. At the same time, a very large majority (74%) said they think Oklahoma is not spending enough on education funding.

poll-education-spending

continue reading New poll: Majority of Oklahomans favor halting tax cut amid budget shortfall

In The Know: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt defends Bible distribution in schools

by and | April 15th, 2015 | Posted in 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.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has sent a letter to public school superintendents across the state vowing to defend the distribution of Bibles on campus. Less than two weeks after a third-grade teacher in Duncan distributed Gideon Bibles to her students, a Satanist church in Oklahoma City has asked permission to distribute Satanist literature at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School. A statewide Second Amendment advocacy group said they plan to file a lawsuit seeking to prohibit enforcement of a “no guns policy” at the Norman Music Festival.

A lawyer representing the family of Eric Harris, who was killed when a volunteer deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office pulled a gun instead of a Taser, is asking to have an outside agency investigate the death. More than 100 protestors marched to the Tulsa County sheriff’s doorstep, demanding action against deputies who did not provide medical aid immediately after the shooting. A public forum tomorrow hosted by the nonprofit news organization Oklahoma Watch will discuss challenges in low-income neighborhoods in south Oklahoma City.

A Tulsa World op-ed by Suzanna de Baca examines the wage gap between men and women in Oklahoma and nationally. Oklahoma has been ranked 48th out of all 50 states for the well-being of women and last in the nation for women’s health. School districts throughout the state would be allowed to create charter schools under a bill approved by the Oklahoma House on Tuesday. The Tulsa World editorial board wrote that Oklahoma’s repeated income tax cuts have made it impossible to fund adequately the education and infrastructure that are needed for economic growth.

The Oklahoman editorial board wrote a tribute to Rep. David Dank, who passed away on Friday. Governor Fallin ordered flags on state property to be flown at half-staff in honor of Rep. Dank. A recent study by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Feeding America shows that one in six, or an estimated 656,000, Oklahomans, turn to food pantries and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families. OK Policy has published a comprehensive overview of Oklahoma’s food security safety net.

Tulsa-resident Michelle Evans, who was crowned Mrs. America 2015, has traveled across Oklahoma and the U.S. to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse. As of yesterday, about one-third of Oklahomans still hadn’t filed a tax return. Citizens for Tax Justice shared five things you should know this tax day. The Number of the Day is 15.3 – the number of black students per thousand who were referred to police and courts by schools in 2011-2012, far higher than the national average for black students (9.8) and about 3 times Oklahoma’s rate for white students (4.2) and Hispanic students (6.3).

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt defends Bible distribution in schools

Upcoming Event: Oklahoma Watch forum on low-income neighborhoods

by | April 14th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Poverty, Upcoming Events | Comments (0)

Nonprofit news organization Oklahoma Watch and the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication will host a public forum about challenges in low-income neighborhoods in south Oklahoma City. The event is Thursday, April 16, 6-7 p.m. at the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church gymnasium, 123 S.W. 25th St., Oklahoma City.

The forum will focus on the needs and concerns of south Oklahoma City communities and is tied to a recently released mobile-video news project, “Talk With Us: Poverty in Oklahoma City Neighborhoods.”

continue reading Upcoming Event: Oklahoma Watch forum on low-income neighborhoods

In The Know: District Attorney charges reserve deputy with second-degree manslaughter

by and | April 14th, 2015 | Posted in 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.

 A reserve deputy who fatally shot a man during an undercover gun sting was charged with second-degree manslaughter Monday afternoon. The deputy, a 73-year-old insurance agent, had bought at least five automobiles and surveillance equipment for the undercover unit to which he was assigned and was the chairman of Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s reelection campaign. The Associated Press reported that the use of volunteer reserve police officers and sheriff’s deputies is common across the country amid tight budgets.

The board that oversees juvenile corrections in Oklahoma is reevaluating its policy to allow pepper spray to be used on incarcerated youth. The Oklahoma House of Representatives has placed a legal advertisement signaling that they may transfer the unfinished American Indian Cultural Center property back to the city of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City could hire legal help at $325 per hour to defend a plan to demolish downtown’s historic Union Bus Station from a lawsuit by city councilman Ed Shadid.

Oklahoma Watch shared comments from a recent interview by state Rep. David Dank, who passed away on Friday. An email from Secretary of State Chris Benge asked every member of the State Legislature to designate up to seven successors in case of an emergency. Faced with a massive budget hole after deep income tax cuts, Kansas Republicans are looking at increasing several other taxes. The OK Policy Blog discusses new research showing how predatory lenders tend to set up shop near the working poor — and cluster around neighborhoods of military families. Payday loan stores reap millions in profits from a product designed to force borrowers into repeat loans at extremely high interest rates.

Oklahoma schools are scrambling to get ready for testing season, which takes every computer most schools can find to handle the demand. McClatchy reported that some teachers in Oklahoma continue to use practices that are part of Common Core standards because they are useful in the classroom. On the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis discussed why Governor Fallin put her former opponent Jari Askins in charge of improving the child welfare system. Oklahoma has become the second state to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics describe as dismembering a fetus.

The Legislature approved a bill that prohibits health insurers from holding proton radiation cancer therapy to a higher standard of clinical effectiveness than other radiation treatments. An experimental coating applied to a 78-year-old LeFlore County bridge may have contributed to premature structural damage that forced the bridge’s closure. A burst of moisture over the weekend and Monday is the first step in alleviating effects of drought throughout the state, weather experts said. Almost 100 years after took the lives of 40 mental patients at Norman’s Griffin Memorial Hospital, a memorial services was held for the victims.

The Number of the Day is 2.07 – the average number of personal exemptions claimed on Oklahoma tax returns in 2013, 10th highest in the U.S. In today’s Policy Note, economist Noah Smith explain why mass imprisonment imposes a huge burden on the U.S. economy.

continue reading In The Know: District Attorney charges reserve deputy with second-degree manslaughter

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