All articles by Guest

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.

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Mr. Chips goes to Oklahoma City (Guest post: John Waldron)

by | April 9th, 2015 | Posted in Education | Comments (5)

John Waldron

John Waldron is a history teacher at Booker T. Washington High School. His earlier contribution to the OK Policy Blog is “The public education crunch goes from bad to worse.”

On March 30 I took a group of teachers and students to Oklahoma City for the Brighter Future Education Rally sponsored by the Oklahoma PTA.  It wasn’t my first rodeo. As a public school teacher, I have attended at least four rallies over the last fifteen years, including last year’s record-breaking gathering of 30,000 outside the capitol building. But this was my first attempt to go inside and talk directly to the people who write the legislation and budget for our public schools. It was an eye-opening experience.

continue reading Mr. Chips goes to Oklahoma City (Guest post: John Waldron)

Don’t ban bilingual education (Guest post: Shannon Guss and Ryan Gentzler)

by | March 31st, 2015 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (0)
Photo by Texas A&M University

Photo by Texas A&M University

Shannon Guss is the Educare Project Director at the Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI) at the University of Oklahoma  – Tulsa. Ryan Gentzler is a Research Associate at ECEI and an OK Policy Research Fellow.

With two bills from 2011 and again this year with SB 522, Oklahoma legislators have proposed to ban bilingual education in Oklahoma. These bills would have dramatically expanded the impact of State Question 751, which established English as the official language of the state. Although the bills failed both this year and in 2011, we should be troubled by these repeated attempts to ban a proven, effective method for educating students.

For all students, and especially those in early childhood (birth to eight years of age), a large and growing body of evidence shows that learning two languages offers a wide array of enduring benefits. Dr. Linda Espinosa, the keynote speaker at the Early Childhood Leadership Institute at OU-Tulsa in 2008 and 2009, completed a synthesis of research on the subject that highlights cognitive, academic, and social benefits of learning two languages from an early age. Below, we summarize some of the most important takeaways from her 2013 report.

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

by | March 27th, 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, Education Basics | 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)

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