All articles by Guest

The misleading myth of voter fraud in American elections (Guest Post: Lorraine Minnite)

by | March 1st, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (0)

Lorraine Minnite is Associate Professor of Public Policy and Director, Undergraduate Urban Studies Program at Rutgers University – Camden. She is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network Working Group on Expanding and Protecting the Right to Vote. This is an edited version of a 2014 brief for the Scholars Strategy Network and is reposted with permission. Sources for all data and claims asserted in this post are available on request.

I VotedAre fraudulent voters undermining U.S. elections? The simple answer is no. Rather, the threat comes from the myth of voter fraud used to justify rules that restrict full and equal voting rights.

A concerted partisan campaign to erect more restrictive voting rules is apace in many states. Thousands of changes to state election codes have been proposed since the contested presidential election of 2000. Far fewer have been signed into law, but those put in place – such as rules that people have a certain kind of photo identification card available from specific government offices – are making it more difficult for many citizens to cast ballots, including longtime voters as well as new ones.

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Avoid ‘naked tax cuts with none of the pay fors’ (Guest post: Oklahoma Economic Report)

by | February 23rd, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (1)
State Treasurer Ken Miller

State Treasurer Ken Miller

This article originally appeared in State Treasurer Ken Miller’s monthly newsletter, the Oklahoma Economic Report.

At the dawn of a new legislative session, current government expenses once again exceed expected revenues and agencies are lining up with $2 billion in additional requests. Policymakers and the public are questioning whether Oklahoma taxes too little or too much, if the state has the right mix of taxes, and what the state should or should not be incentivizing through tax policy.

For years, the discussion about Oklahoma’s tax structure has focused on eliminating the income tax. Mostly ignored is how to replace the more than one-third of state revenue it generates. Nine states don’t tax personal income. Only one state, Alaska, eliminated the personal income tax, but it did so by depending almost entirely on oil and gas industry taxes. Two no-income tax states – Florida and Washington – have higher tax burdens than some income-tax-assessing states, including Oklahoma, according to the Tax Foundation. Tax burden is defined as the collective weight of all taxes levied on an individual.

continue reading Avoid ‘naked tax cuts with none of the pay fors’ (Guest post: Oklahoma Economic Report)

Pass common sense sentencing reforms now (Guest post: Sean Wallace)

by | February 19th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice | Comments (5)
Sean Wallace

Sean Wallace

Sean Wallace is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, an association representing employees of the Department of Corrections.

During her 2015 inaugural address, Governor Mary Fallin told the crowd assembled on the Capitol steps that one of the three areas Oklahoma “must improve or risk stifling our forward momentum” was “over-incarceration.” She went on to say that “year after year another issue that holds back our state, breaks apart our families and leads to poverty is crime and incarceration.”  

The Governor deserves credit for saying that Oklahoma locks up too many of its citizens because too few elected officials are willing to say that.  To do so is to risk being called “liberal” or “soft on crime.”

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The many benefits of online voter registration (Guest post: Rachael V. Cobb)

by | February 16th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (1)

Rachael V. Cobb is Associate Professor of Government and Chair of the Government Department, Suffolk University. She is a member of the Scholars Strategy Network Working Group on Expanding and Protecting the Right to Vote. This is an edited version of a brief for the Scholars Strategy Network and is reposted with permission.

RegisterIn order to vote, every American must register first – except in North Dakota, which has no voter registration. Making registration secure, efficient, and easily accessible for voters should be a goal for every state. Online voter registration accomplishes all of these objectives. Providing an online tool that eligible citizens can use to register to vote reduces administrative costs, minimizes data entry errors, and increases the accuracy of state voter lists. More accurate lists, in turn, reduce delays and lines at the polls on Election Day or during early voting.

continue reading The many benefits of online voter registration (Guest post: Rachael V. Cobb)

The wind energy debate comes sweeping down to the Capitol

by | February 11th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Economy, Taxes | Comments (3)
Wind farm near Weatherford, OK. Photo by Travel Aficionado used under a Creative Commons license.

Wind farm near Weatherford, OK. Photo by Travel Aficionado used under a Creative Commons license.

Editor’s Note: Wind power is a growing source of energy production in Oklahoma that is drawing close scrutiny at the state Capitol. Is wind production beneficial to Oklahoma’s economy and communities? Should the state continue to provide the industry with tax incentives? We invited four active participants in the wind debate to contribute guest blog posts on the subject. Making the case for wind power are Johnson Bridgwater and Whitney Pearson of the Sierra Club, Oklahoma Chapter and Jeff Clark of the Wind Coalition; making the case for greater industry regulation and a curb on tax breaks are Frank Robson of the Oklahoma Property Rights Association and Windwaste, and former Congressman Ernest Istook.

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Too many foster youth enter the adult world without a safety net (Guest post: Brandon Crawford)

by | February 5th, 2015 | Posted in Children and Families | Comments (3)

BrandonCrawfordBrandon L. Crawford s one of four 2014-2015 OK Policy Research Fellows. Brandon is a Sociology Ph.D. student at the University of Oklahoma’s Norman Campus. He is also a research assistant at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ Office of Planning Research and Statistics, where he is working on a federal Youth at-Risk of Homelessness grant.

For most Oklahoma teenagers, turning 18 is an uncomplicatedly exciting time in their lives. However, for foster children, turning 18 means exiting the state’s foster system – and that can mean transitioning to a world fraught with intense uncertainty and anxiety, including a significant risk of experiencing homelessness. Through federal funding, a new program in Oklahoma is identifying the factors that place former foster youth at risk of homelessness.

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ABCs of School Finance (Guest Post: Lori Smith)

by | January 12th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Education | Comments (1)

school finance - appleLori Smith is the Chief Financial Officer for Edmond Public Schools. This post is excerpted from an Edmond Public School brochure, “20 Questions (and Answers) about School Finance”.

What is State Aid?

State Aid represents the funds that are appropriated by the State Legislature for school districts, and distributed by the State Department of Education through the “State Aid Formula.” 

State Aid is based primarily on student counts, with allowances made for various student characteristics represented as grade and categorical weights.

State Aid uses the higher of the current or two previous years’ student counts. Thus, if a district’s student count increases, the State Aid is adjusted in the current year. If a district’s student count decreases, the State Aid does not decrease for two years.

The State Aid calculated using these student counts is then reduced for local revenue collections by subtracting “chargeables.”

continue reading ABCs of School Finance (Guest Post: Lori Smith)

Protecting Oklahoma’s most vulnerable infants (Guest Post: Cassidy Hamilton)

by | January 6th, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare, Poverty, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (1)

CassidyHamiltonCassidy Hamilton is one of four 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 works as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Norman where she coordinates a tutoring program for at-risk students. Cassidy is interested in health and housing policy, economic development, community lending in low-income areas, and the interconnectedness of fiscal and monetary policy.

Infant mortality is the death of a child under one year of age, and the infant mortality rate (IMR) is the number of those deaths per every 1,000 births (see chart below). According to the CDC, the IMR is an important measure because the mortality of a population’s infants can be indicative of broader factors affecting the health and well-being of the population at large. Beyond its importance as a public health measure, for families of babies who die before they reach their first birthday, infant mortality is an immeasurable personal tragedy.

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We must move from angst to action in the wake of Brown and Garner deaths (Guest post: Hannibal B. Johnson)

by | December 22nd, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice | Comments (4)
Hannibal B. Johnson

Hannibal B. Johnson

Hannibal B. Johnson is a Harvard Law School graduate who teaches at Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. His several books include Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District, Black Wall Street, Up from the Ashes, and Acres of Aspiration. A version of this article originally appeared in the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce newsletter.

The shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson and the chokehold death of Eric Garner at the hands of the New York City Police Department officers added urgency to already-simmering frustrations over the perceived devaluation of black lives. The subsequent grand jury failures to indict the officers connected to these high-profile killings of unarmed black men by white police officers sparked a firestorm of protests. Some of these mostly-peaceful protests included ugly and unfortunate anarchic elements bent on violence and intent on stoking anti-police sentiment.

These events ratcheted-up the debate about the entirety of the criminal justice system as it relates to African American men. The Brown and Garner cases, different both geographically and factually, highlight the distance we must go to close the wide gap in perception about the role of race in the criminal justice system. Many white Americans view the existing system as fair and even-handed, while many black and brown Americans see it as haphazard at best, and often tilted against them.

continue reading We must move from angst to action in the wake of Brown and Garner deaths (Guest post: Hannibal B. Johnson)

Oklahoma school funding: Even worse than you thought (Guest post: Ryan Gentzler)

by | December 18th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (6)

Ryan Gentzler is an OK Policy Research Fellow, a Master of Public Administration student at the University of Oklahoma, and a Research Associate with the Early Childhood Education Institute.

In October, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published an update to its study of cuts to state aid to public K-12 schools since the recession, showing that Oklahoma has widened its lead in making the largest cuts in the nation. From 2008 to 2015, we’ve slashed state aid to schools by 23.6 percent, or $857 per student. But the situation is even worse than it appears at first glance. Oklahoma’s public schools are more dependent on state revenues than those in many other states. As a result, school funding in Oklahoma is more vulnerable to economic downturns and to fiscal decisions that erode the state’s revenue base.

continue reading Oklahoma school funding: Even worse than you thought (Guest post: Ryan Gentzler)

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