All articles by Gene Perry

In The Know: Tulsa City Council votes not to pay new jail fees

by | October 31st, 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.

Want to know more about what’s on the ballot Nov. 4? Check out OK Policy’s 2014 Oklahoma Elections page, with information on voting times, state questions, judicial elections, and more.

The Tulsa City Council voted 8-0 to approve a resolution that the city will not pay two of the three fees approved by Tulsa County for holding city inmates in the Tulsa Jail. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett has denied an Open Records Act request for ethics complaints filed against him regarding a decision to remove a planned sidewalk near a new city park. Gov. Mary Fallin’s general counsel is among the applicants for a seat the governor will appoint to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. The judge who ruled against a Norman doctor challenging a state law restricting abortions authored more than a dozen pieces of anti-abortion legislation when he was a state legislator, and he has written that abortion caused more carnage than Nazi Germany. The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to issue an emergency stay of the judge’s order.

Under a bill being considered by a legislative interim study, Oklahomans could be left in the dark about life insurance payments owed to them. A judge has thrown out a lawsuit over an earthquake that injured a woman, finding that the case should instead be heard by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. An Oklahoma County court divorce judge ruled that records in the divorce trial of billionaire oilman Harold Hamm will remain sealed from the public. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission voted to increase a fee on land lines that is used to fund internet service for rural hospitals and schools. The Corporation Commission had previously voted down the fee increase, causing phone companies to go unreimbursed, because they wanted to send a message to the Legislature about reforming the program.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services will host a panel discussion on teen pregnancy on Thursday, November 6 in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma State Department of Health is concerned about reports that Oklahomans who have traveled to Africa are facing exclusion from work, school, or community activities upon their return due to fear of Ebola, even when they have not been in countries affected by the disease. In the Journal Record, Arnold Hamilton discussed how Oklahoma’s restrictive ballot initiative laws keep good ideas off the ballot.

The Number of the Day is the graduation success rate of Oklahoma State University men’s basketball players who enrolled in 2007, the lowest in the Big 12. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times shared county-level data showing how the Affordable Care has affected the uninsured rate across the nation. The Affordable Care Act has cut the uninsured rate nearly in half in several eastern Oklahoma counties where previously more than 1 in 4 residents were uninsured.

continue reading In The Know: Tulsa City Council votes not to pay new jail fees

In The Know: Early in-person voting begins today in Oklahoma

by and | October 30th, 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.

Want to know more about what’s on the ballot Nov. 4? Check out OK Policy’s 2014 Oklahoma Elections page, with information on voting times, state questions, judicial elections, and more.

Three days of early, in-person voting is set to begin today at county election board offices across the state as most political experts predict turnout will be relatively light for next week’s general election. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed what’s behind the decline in voting among Oklahomans. On the OK Policy Blog, Ryan Kiesel makes the case for creating multi-member districts to expand the number of voices at the Legislature. See more from our series on Oklahoma’s broken democracy here.

Gov. Mary Fallin raised more than $932,000 from donors in the final push toward Tuesday’s election while her main challenger, Joe Dorman, raised more than $828,000, their latest campaign reports show. Overall, Dorman has received almost $1.5 million in contributions since beginning fundraising in December while Fallin, who began her reelection effort in 2011, has raised more than $4.5 million. Campaign finance reports show state schools superintendent candidate Joy Hofmeister has outraised and outspent her opponent, John Cox, heading into the closing days of their campaign. U.S. Rep. James Lankford collected $1.2 million in the last quarter, as former foe T.W. Shannon and a host of special interest groups kicked in cash for his U.S. Senate race.

Since it began operations in February, the state Workers Compensation Commission has not sought payment from businesses to replenish a fund that pays injured workers when self-insured companies cannot pay their claims, even though the fund is far below levels required by law. For more than two months, the state Workers Compensation Commission has refused to hear appeals involving injured workers’ claims until the Attorney General’s Office decides whether the commission can close its deliberations to the public. An appeals court ruled that Tulsa County will have to pay the legal fees for one of two couples involved in a lawsuit that led to Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriages being overturned.

The director of the Oklahoma State Climatological Survey said Oklahomans should prepare for a drought that could extend through the spring and possibly for years. State officials and researchers updated a legislative committee on their efforts to study the state’s ongoing earthquake swarm, which has been connected to wastewater disposal practices by the oil and gas industry. The Senate Insurance Committee examined applying the state’s unclaimed property laws to unclaimed life insurance benefits. NewsOn6 examined a new Oklahoma law that makes it easier for prosecutors to confiscate cars that belong to drunk drivers.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton told legislators that county jails are inadequate holding facilities for those with long-term criminal sentences, but the state still has a backlog of 240 inmates in county jails. The Tulsa World discussed why Oklahoma continues to lead the nation in incarcerating women. An Oklahoma Watch investigation found that serious violations by inmates plagued Oklahoma’s largest private halfway houses for three years before the state took action in January by removing all inmates from one and later demanding a corrective plan at the other.

The Number of the Day is the number of Atmospheric and Space Scientists who worked in Oklahoma in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, Vox shows how the Affordable Care Act is significantly reducing inequality as it expands access to health insurance.

continue reading In The Know: Early in-person voting begins today in Oklahoma

OK PolicyCast: Episode 12

by | October 24th, 2014 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)

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

radio micEach week the OK PolicyCast brings you the most important news affecting Oklahoma and what it means. This week, we’ll discuss a new OK Policy report on the track record of the Medicaid expansion in other states, along with headlines, numbers of the day, and more.

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

In The Know: Criticism ignites over “impossible” Oklahoma petition demands

by | October 23rd, 2014 | 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.

Want to know more about what’s on the ballot Nov. 4? Check out OK Policy’s 2014 Oklahoma Elections page, with information on voting times, state questions, judicial elections, and more.

After three petitions to put state questions on the Oklahoma ballot recently failed, advocates are criticizing the state’s petition laws. Compared to surrounding states, Oklahoma require substantially more signatures to be gathered over a shorter period of time to get a petition on the ballot. NewsOn6 examined why lottery revenues haven’t helped Oklahoma school funding as much as promised. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed why the lottery didn’t fix Oklahoma’s education funding problems. David Blatt’s Journal Record column points out that lawmakers have taken away far more revenue by passing tax cuts and growing tax breaks than have been added by the lottery, Indian gaming, and tobacco taxes. Tulsa Public Schools is expanding the role of an outside contractor in assisting with teacher recruitment, amid a statewide teacher shortage.

NewsOK reported that Gov. Fallin personally has given substantial raises to state agency directors that are larger than any of the 48 agency director pay hikes that the governor criticized earlier this week. A new report from Oklahoma Policy Institute finds that states that expanded Medicaid are lowering their uninsured rate, improving the health of their people, and boosting their economies and state budgets. The Tulsa Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women is taking up the issue of Oklahoma’s high female incarceration rate. You  can see the Commission’s initial report on female incarceration here

An Oklahoma judge refused to block new restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs from going into effect Nov. 1. Developers looking at building an outlet mall in east Tulsa say the plan will not go forward without taxpayer help. Kansas has missed its tax revenue targets again, with revenues for the new fiscal year coming in more than 10 percent below estimates. Following major income tax cuts, the state has burned through its rainy day fund and now faces even larger budget cuts or tax increases to fill a growing budget hole.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of women in Oklahoma who have report having at least one poor mental health day each month. In today’s Policy Note, the Washington Post discusses a new study showing that poor college graduates stay poor about as much as rich high school dropouts stay rich.

continue reading In The Know: Criticism ignites over “impossible” Oklahoma petition demands

In The Know: Retained Oklahoma City third graders not showing much improvement

by and | October 22nd, 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.

Want to know more about what’s on the ballot Nov. 4? Check out OK Policy’s 2014 Oklahoma Elections page, with information on voting times, state questions, judicial elections, and more.

Only five out of 611 Oklahoma City third-graders held back because they failed a state-mandated reading test in April have passed an alternative assessment since the start of August, prompting a district official to blame some teachers and principals for the lack of improvement. Calling it a “game-changer” for less fortunate students, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu said the district will pay for nearly 4,000 high school sophomores and juniors to take the PSAT. State Superintendent Janet Barresi is asking the federal government for a reinstatement of a No Child Left Behind waiver that the state lost when the Legislature repealed Common Core, because the state Regents have certified Oklahoma’s current standards as “college and career ready.” The Tulsa World editorial board discussed ImpactTulsa’s efforts to coordinate everyone working to improve Tulsa public schools. We previously wrote about the ImpactTulsa project on the OK Policy Blog.

Slate examined how women in Texas and Oklahoma are obtaining abortions after the passage of more restrictive laws. On the OK Policy Blog, we looked at the case for the US Postal Service to begin providing affordable banking and financial services. Oklahoma beer brewers are hoping to see a state law changed which restricts them from selling beer produced at their brewery directly to customers. The head of a wind industry trade group acknowledged to legislators that state tax incentives for wind energy producers may need to be re-examined in light of their growing cost. At an interim study on Oklahoma’s 665,000 uninsured, health care advocates asked lawmakers to find solutions to extend health coverage — whether it be accepting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act or via its own state funded alternative. A federal contractor helping to enroll Americans in coverage through healthcare.gov will bring about 500 jobs to Lawton.

Members of the House Utility and Environmental Regulation Committee heard outlines of different ways to address Oklahoma’s water needs through a combination of greater infrastructure spending, conservation, and reuse. Administrators from the state’s seven veterans centers asked lawmakers to provide a state match for federal grants to fund much needed infrastructure improvements. African-American leaders in Oklahoma are voicing concerns about a growing sense of apathy about politics within their communities. OK Policy previously discussed way that Oklahoma’s democracy is broken and what’s getting in the way of voting.

The Number of the Day is how many children under the age of six in Oklahoma live in counties classified as high risk for poor school readiness. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times discusses how low-income women sometimes get pushed out of their jobs — and into poverty — when they become pregnant.

continue reading In The Know: Retained Oklahoma City third graders not showing much improvement

In The Know: Both superintendent candidates endorse teacher pay hike, less testing

by and | October 21st, 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.

The Republican and Democratic contenders to become Oklahoma’s state superintendent both are endorsing pay raises for teachers and a reduction in the number of tests public school students must take every year. The Oklahoman editorial board called for scrutinizing the salaries of superintendents in Oklahoma school districts. A state Senate interim study looked at giving Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter School Board authority over certifying virtual courses for all Oklahoma school districts to alleviate the teacher shortage. The OK Policy Blog discussed how Oklahoma still employs hundreds fewer workers than before the recession, even though the recession has ended and state population has grown significantly.

Tulsa County commissioners voted to approve increases in what it charges the city of Tulsa to hold its inmates in the Tulsa Jail. Tulsa County’s interim information technology director instructed at least four county employees to destroy a document critical of his conflict of interest in selecting an IT management company for the county. Law officers are discussing ways to increase collection of DNA samples from Oklahomans convicted of misdemeanors. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed how indiscriminate DNA testing can actually lead to charges and convictions against innocent Oklahomans.

OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt and four other Tulsa-area leaders will receive the inaugural Dan Allen Awards for social justice. NewsOK examined the state Senate race between incumbent Ralph Shortey, who has sponsored some of the most anti-immigrant proposals in the legislature, and immigration attorney Michael Brooks-Jimenez. A need for bilingual teachers in Oklahoma City Public Schools has district officials going to Puerto Rico to conduct interviews. Rogers County recently added a translation service to its E911 Dispatch Center to help non-English speaking callers. The University of Oklahoma is under federal investigation for a dog electrocution citation, among other animal welfare violations in university research labs.

The Number of the Day is the estimated number of unmarried, same-sex couples living together in Oklahoma before same-sex marriage was legalized. In today’s Policy Note, Al Jazeera America looks at the human cost of Texas’ refusal to expand Medicaid.

continue reading In The Know: Both superintendent candidates endorse teacher pay hike, less testing

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

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