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More hands needed to tackle senior hunger (Guest post: Laura Goldring)

by | July 29th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)

Laura Goldring is CEO and Founder at MaddieLuke, LTD based in Duncan, OK.  An earlier version of this article was posted to LinkedIn.

If you have not seen the 2013 documentary, “A Place At The Table,” I strongly encourage you to set aside 90 minutes and prepare yourself for the wide range of thoughts and emotions this film will provoke. Regardless of your political position, socially-based opinions, or long-held stereotypes of how poverty functions, I am confident you will be challenged in your thinking at least once and will find yourself pondering how you can begin to make a difference in your own little corner of the world.

My little corner of the world is Southwest Oklahoma. My husband and I own a small for-profit company that facilitates service delivery for the supportive services aspect of the Older Americans Act. The Older Americans Act is one of a very few programs whose service delivery is not based on an individual meeting the low-income threshold. Specifically, we provide outreach, health promotion, help with chores, home repair, caregiver respite, caregiver support groups, grandparent respite, and grandparent support groups services to individuals aged 60+ and caregivers.

continue reading More hands needed to tackle senior hunger (Guest post: Laura Goldring)

Americans with Disabilities Act is a gift to all Americans (Guest post: Britany Burris)

by | July 27th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security | Comments (0)

Britany Burris is a senior at Northeastern State University studying Political Science. She is a Disability rights and Deaf rights advocate here in Oklahoma, and she was a 2014 participant in OK Policy’s Summer Policy Institute.

Britany Burris

Britany Burris

On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the civil rights law for people with disabilities, was signed into law, making discrimination against people with disabilities illegal. It affected all sections of public life and gave people with disabilities the same rights as everyone else. It told society that people with disabilities were not worth less than others.

The ADA opened the door for other laws that have greatly improved the lives of people with disabilities — on disability parking, education targeting students with disabilities, independent living, and captioning. According to the US Census American Community Survey, 15.6 percent of all Oklahomans, or about 577,000 people, have one or more disabilities. That number goes up to 42.3 percent for Oklahomans age 65 and older. The ADA has also been important for pregnant women, parents who use strollers, and the elderly. You do not have to use a wheelchair to benefit from curb cuts or elevators.

continue reading Americans with Disabilities Act is a gift to all Americans (Guest post: Britany Burris)

Oklahoma’s ‘three-legged stool’ of tax incentive reform is incomplete (Guest post: Ryan Gentzler)

by | July 9th, 2015 | Posted in Taxes | Comments (0)

Ryan Gentzler is an OK Policy Research Fellow and a Research Associate with the Early Childhood Education Institute. He recently completed his Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Oklahoma.

stoolAfter years of stalled reforms on tax incentives in Oklahoma, the Legislature this year passed a pair of bills that could have a real and positive impact on a growing problem. HB 2182 requires all tax incentives to be evaluated by a newly formed Incentive Evaluation Commission at least once every four years, and SB 806 requires the Legislature to state a measurable goal for any new tax incentive. These reforms could be the first two legs of a three-legged stool that supports strong accountability for tax breaks in Oklahoma. For the third leg, lawmakers should pass sunset provisions for all tax incentives, which will periodically require them to act on the information they receive from the Incentive Evaluation Commission.

continue reading Oklahoma’s ‘three-legged stool’ of tax incentive reform is incomplete (Guest post: Ryan Gentzler)

Two insider takes on the 2015 legislative session

by | July 1st, 2015 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Matters | Comments (1)

Editor’s note: We came across these two thoughtful takes on the 2015 session, with a particular emphasis on the budget, from Senate Republican Mike Mazzei and House Democrat Ben Loring. Their assessments offer some stark contrasts but also some surprising agreement.  The articles are posted here with the authors’ permission.

Sen. Mike Mazzei: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Mike Mazzeimazzei_bio has represented Senate District 25 since 2004. This summary was originally posted for his followers on his Facebook page.

Halleluiah! The 2015 Legislative Session ended one week early and after some time of reflection, I can now provide some highlights for my annual “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” report.

The Good – In spite of a $611 million deficit, we managed to avoid reducing K-12 education funding from the previous year. We also initiated some tax reform by eliminating the five-year property tax exemption for new wind power facilities for an annual savings of $45 million. For hopefully more tax reform in the future, we established a new evaluation system to analyze every tax incentive in the tax code over a four- year cycle. Tulsa won a big victory with approval of a financing package for the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, which according to my analysis, would provide significant net economic benefits to both Tulsa and the state. And finally, we joined almost every other state in the nation to ban texting while driving.

continue reading Two insider takes on the 2015 legislative session

The myth of state policy innovation (Guest Blog: David Schultz)

by | June 18th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

GOV_david+schultzDavid Schultz is a professor of political science at Hamline University. This article originally appeared in The Governing Institute website and is reposted with permission.

Many state legislatures are not professional or full-time, or they lack extensive research staff to undertake policy work. So they turn to other states to see what they have done. States may find out about other states’ policy initiatives at conferences, such as those of the Council of State Governments or the National Conference of State Legislatures, and then adopt those policies as their own with minor modifications.

continue reading The myth of state policy innovation (Guest Blog: David Schultz)

Economic argument for state tax cuts weakens further (Guest Post: Michael Leachman)

by | May 26th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

michael_leachman-500x500

Michael Leachman

Michael Leachman is Director of State Fiscal Research for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This post originally appeared on the Center’s Off the Charts blog and is reprinted with permission.

A new study by William Gale, Aaron Krupkin, and Kim Rueben at the Tax Policy Center (TPC) further undermines claims that states can improve their economies by cutting taxes.

To make their case, tax-cut proponents often point to a 2008 paper by economist Robert Reed, which seemed to produce clear evidence that tax cuts promote growth. But when the TPC researchers replicated Reed’s statistical analysis and extended it for another ten years, his results fell apart. Simply by expanding the time period, they found that taxes have a statistically insignificant impact on growth. And when they split the time period in two, they found that higher taxes are associated with stronger economic growth in the more recent period, from 1992 to 2006.

continue reading Economic argument for state tax cuts weakens further (Guest Post: Michael Leachman)

Should Oklahoma adopt all voting-by-mail elections? (Guest Post: Cassidy Hamilton)

by | May 18th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (0)

Cassidy Hamilton is one of the 2014-2015 OK Policy Research Fellows. Cassidy graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Economics and is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Administration at the University of Oklahoma. She has also contributed a blog post on infant mortalityvote-by-mail.

Last year, Oklahoma was ranked 49th in the nation in voter engagement in a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Less than half of eligible Oklahomans voted in the 2012 presidential election and only three-fourths of eligible Oklahomans are even registered, putting Oklahoma 46th nationally in voter registration.

To address our state’s poor voter participation, State Senator David Holt introduced a package of ten bills that if enacted, would fundamentally restructure Oklahoma’s election process. These bills ranged from SB 313, which would establish and allow online voter registration, to SB 310, which would transition Oklahoma to conduct its elections entirely by mail by 2020.

continue reading Should Oklahoma adopt all voting-by-mail elections? (Guest Post: Cassidy Hamilton)

The Data Is In: Oklahomans are actively using Affordable Care Act

by | May 14th, 2015 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (0)

Steven Goldman, PhD is a Navigator at Oklahoma Primary Care Association. He can be reached at sgoldman@okpca.org.

Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) recently reached its fifth year, the law’s main incentives for expanding health coverage are still young. The health care law’s second Open Enrollment Period just concluded in February 2015. Now the the enrollment data from the US Department of Health and Human Services is in, and it makes two important points: that Oklahomans are interested and engaged in purchasing health insurance on Healthcare.gov, and that those purchases are having a strong impact on the state economy.

continue reading The Data Is In: Oklahomans are actively using Affordable Care Act

Higher minimum wages improve economic well-being (Guest Post: Michael Krassa and Benjamin Radcliff)

by | May 6th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Economy | Comments (0)

Michael A. Krassa is Professor Emeritus of Social Dimensions of Environmental Policy and Political Science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Benjamin Radcliff, is a Professor of Political Science at University of Notre Dame and the author of The Political Economy of Human Happiness. This post originally ran as a brief for the Scholars Strategy Network.

Debates about the wisdom of hiking minimum wage levels are stuck in a rut. Opponents say higher minimum wages kill jobs, while supporters maintain that higher minimums reduce poverty and spur consumer spending, benefiting everyone. Many if not most economists believe both arguments to be true: higher minimum wages do indeed cost some jobs, but they also raise the standard of living for large portions of the population.

So how can we can decide whether or not higher minimum wages are, on balance, a good idea or not? Simply put, do average individuals living in nations that have higher minimum wages have higher levels of financial well-being? We decided to put this question to the test.

continue reading Higher minimum wages improve economic well-being (Guest Post: Michael Krassa and Benjamin Radcliff)

Don’t take away Oklahomans’ right to regulate drilling (Guest post: Johnson Bridgwater)

by | April 20th, 2015 | Posted in Economy | Comments (2)

Johnson Bridgwater is the Executive Director of Oklahoma Sierra Club.

It’s undeniable that the fracking boom has had a huge impact on many Oklahoma communities. It’s helped bring jobs and income to some, but the rapid increase in this new method of drilling has a flip side—communities have serious concerns about earthquakes and threats to vital water supplies for cities and towns, not to mention the noise, air pollution, and damage to infrastructure from highly industrial drilling operations.

continue reading Don’t take away Oklahomans’ right to regulate drilling (Guest post: Johnson Bridgwater)

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