Skip to Content

All articles by Guest

Using lawsuits to fund our schools: Is it time to try again? (Guest post: Elizabeth Smith)

by | March 13th, 2017 | Posted in Education | Comments (2)

Elizabeth Smith, Ph.D., is the planning director for the Yale National Initiative at the University of Tulsa, a partnership between TU, Tulsa Public Schools, and Yale University to strengthen teaching in Tulsa schools.

“The Legislature shall establish and maintain a system of free public schools wherein all the children of the State may be educated. … The Legislature shall, by appropriate legislation, raise appropriate funds for the annual support of the common schools of the State…”

The Oklahoma State Constitution, Article 13

An Oklahoma native, I moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas in 2001 to attend the University of Arkansas.  I transitioned from being a student to a resident of Arkansas and began a career in higher education which included research on PreK-12 schools.  Studying school funding in Arkansas, I investigated the transformation that took place in statewide education following Lake View School District no. 25 v. Huckabee, one in a series of Arkansas Supreme Court decisions that contributed to an overhaul of the school funding system. Moving back to Oklahoma in 2015, colleagues have frequently asked me, “Why are Arkansas schools funded so much better than Oklahoma schools?”  My short answer is always: “Lake View.”  Yes, this is an oversimplification considering that Arkansas and Oklahoma are very different in terms of population, major industries, and history.  However, Lake View was the turning point for school funding in Arkansas, and similar cases have been turning points in many other states.

continue reading Using lawsuits to fund our schools: Is it time to try again? (Guest post: Elizabeth Smith)

Oklahoma’s budget crisis requires new revenue (Guest post: Joe Dorman)

by | March 8th, 2017 | Posted in Budget | Comments (1)

Joe Dorman

Joe Dorman is CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA). He previously served for 12 years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and has been actively involved in numerous civic, leadership, and youth-development organizations, including Leadership Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Academy.

In the last several weeks, a lot of eyes have been focused on Oklahoma’s $900 million budget shortfall and the effect it may have on our state. We have heard a lot of talk about revolving funds, off-the-top spending, structural imbalances and dozens of other terms capitol insiders use to describe the current budget crunch.

All of that sounds complicated, but if you break down its major components, the state budget is not unlike the personal budgets that families manage. Simply put, you need your income to be greater than your expenses. If it isn’t, you are in trouble.

continue reading Oklahoma’s budget crisis requires new revenue (Guest post: Joe Dorman)

Even doctors depend on the Affordable Care Act (Guest post: Sabine Brown)

by | February 21st, 2017 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (1)

Sabine Brown is a political activist, physician assistant, and mother of two.

One in three Oklahomans have a pre-existing condition that could have been used to deny them health insurance coverage prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). My husband, Eric, is one of those Oklahomans.

When my husband was a small child, he was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma. He was treated at St. Jude’s hospital in Memphis. Although his treatments and back and forth trips from Oklahoma City were rough, he has good memories of the staff that took care of him. One memory that stuck with him is a doctor who wrote an order for him to have pizza every day when that was the only food he would tolerate during chemotherapy treatments. The experience ultimately inspired him to become a doctor himself.

Eric started medical school in 2003, which coincided with the time he could no longer be on his parent’s insurance plan. He started filling our applications for private insurance. The rejections letters rolled in. No one would accept him because of his previous cancer diagnosis.

continue reading Even doctors depend on the Affordable Care Act (Guest post: Sabine Brown)

Across core services, Oklahoma underspends (Guest post: State Treasurer Ken Miller)

by | February 16th, 2017 | Posted in Budget | Comments (1)

Ken Miller, Ph.D., is the State Treasurer of Oklahoma. A Republican, Miller was first elected to a four-year term in 2010 and was unopposed for re-election in 2014. Miller earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Oklahoma, an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University and a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from Lipscomb University. His fields of specialization are applied public economics and public finance effects on economic growth. This article originally appeared in Treasurer Miller’s Oklahoma Economic Report.

State Treasurer Ken Miller

State government has four core responsibilities – education, health care, public safety and transportation. It is those fundamental services on which the people depend to have productive lives. For businesses, those services done right provide an environment in which they can thrive.

Analysis of data released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau, along with the most-recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Federal Highway Administration, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, shows that, even when adjusted for Oklahoma’s relatively low cost of living, funding for core services still lags the region and the nation.

No one will argue that funding alone ensures success, but comparing Oklahoma’s spending to the rest of the states provides a relative measure of where we stand.

continue reading Across core services, Oklahoma underspends (Guest post: State Treasurer Ken Miller)

Answering the Call: Food Security among Military Service Members and Veterans (Guest post: Effie Craven)

by | November 11th, 2016 | Posted in Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)

Effie Craven serves as the State Advocacy and Public Policy Director for the Oklahoma Food Banks — the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma — where she advocates for programs and policies that promote access to nutritious foods and economic security for all Oklahomans.

One in six Oklahomans struggles with hunger, 25 percent of Oklahoma children are at risk of going to bed hungry at night, and 16 percent of our population live at or below the federal poverty line. These staggering figures highlight the critical problem of hunger in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, our military service members and veterans are not immune.

With more than 300,000 veterans in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Food Banks are deeply concerned that tens of thousands of our state’s former service members may be struggling with hunger. According to a study published in 2015, more than one in four Iraq and Afghanistan veterans nationwide reported being food insecure in the past year. A separate 2015 study found that 24 percent of veterans who have accessed care through the Veterans Health Administration (VA) reported being food insecure. Feeding America’s Hunger in America report included data on veteran and military status among food pantry clients across the nation for the first time in 2014. The study found that than 1 in 5 households served by the Feeding America food bank network reported having at least one member who has served in the U.S. military.

continue reading Answering the Call: Food Security among Military Service Members and Veterans (Guest post: Effie Craven)

What cuts to alternative education mean for individual lives. Lives such as mine. (Guest Post: Teara Firor)

by | November 3rd, 2016 | Posted in Blog, Education | Comments (2)

Teara Firor is a Tulsa-born social worker and parent of three children in the  public school system.

We hear a lot about the cuts to public programs that have been made in recent years as a result of the state’s endless budget crisis. Often a lot of numbers get tossed around, but we can lose sight of what the programs that are being cut mean for individual lives. Lives such as mine.

I attended Broken Arrow Academy from 2001 until I graduated in 2004. The BA Academy is one of over 250 alternative education programs that operate in the state to serve at-risk students. Prior to being accepted there, I was on the fast track to dropping out of high school entirely. I attended four different schools my freshman year. When I was in school, I ate lunch alone in the bathroom because I found the school of over 1,000 students overwhelming, and after so many transfers it became difficult to make friends.

My first day at Broken Arrow Academy was my first good day of school in years. As time progressed, I developed relationships with my teachers and school counselor. Those relationships helped me see school as a safe place and helped me continue to attend when things got rough.

continue reading What cuts to alternative education mean for individual lives. Lives such as mine. (Guest Post: Teara Firor)

When K-12 schools are underfunded… (Guest post: Elizabeth Smith)

by | October 31st, 2016 | Posted in Education | Comments (1)

sad student

Elizabeth Smith is the planning director for the Yale National Initiative at the University of Tulsa, a partnership between TU, Tulsa Public Schools, and Yale University to strengthen teaching in Tulsa schools.  She recently completed a Ph.D. in Public Policy, P-20 Education Policy.

The latest school funding numbers have been released, and, sadly, Oklahoma is once again the winner!  After inflation, our state’s general funding for K-12 education is 27 percent less per pupil than before the beginning of the 2008 recession, a higher percentage than any other state in the country.  This amounts to $211 less per student per year in each school.  As a parent, I care about school funding because I want my kids to have art and music programs and teachers who are treated like professionals and have access to the best resources to use in their classrooms.  As a higher education professional for the last 12 years, though, why does adequate funding for K-12 education matter to my work?

continue reading When K-12 schools are underfunded… (Guest post: Elizabeth Smith)

The dangerous hidden agenda behind State Question 776 (Guest Post: Sen. Connie Johnson)

by | October 26th, 2016 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice, State Questions | Comments (4)

Connie Johnson serves as Chair of the Say NO to SQ776 Campaign Committee. She was a State Senator representing District 48 in northeastern Oklahoma County from 2002-2014.

thinktwicelogoI’ve worked throughout Oklahoma these past few months to defeat State Question 776 as Chair of the Say No To SQ 776/Think Twice Oklahoma campaign. I know why its sponsors put it on the ballot. When you push the hot-button issue of the death penalty on average Oklahomans, most won’t think about any details, regardless of their opinion on the issue. Many think SQ 776 is an up or down question on capital punishment. It’s not. Instead, the authors are trying to dupe Oklahoma voters into putting the death penalty in Oklahoma above the law. That’s what makes SQ 776 so dangerous.

Proponents of SQ 776 seek to “protect” the death penalty by adding it into the Oklahoma constitution. What they really want to protect is death sentences, in case specific methods of execution are disallowed. This was already accomplished when the legislature also passed HB1879, allowing seamless changes to execution methods should one be disallowed or become impractical.

continue reading The dangerous hidden agenda behind State Question 776 (Guest Post: Sen. Connie Johnson)

Private school tax subsidy blurs the line between charitable gift and money laundering (Guest post: Carl Davis)

by | October 19th, 2016 | Posted in Education, Taxes | Comments (0)

Carl Davis is Research Director at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a non-profit, non-partisan research organization that works on federal, state, and local tax policy issues.

When is a charitable contribution not a “donation” at all?  If a taxpayer manages to turn a profit on the deal, has anything altruistic actually occurred?  The clear answer is no.  But a new report from my organization, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, reveals that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not always see it that way, at least with regard to certain state-subsidized “gifts” that Oklahomans are making to private K-12 scholarship funds.

Tax incentives for charitable giving are common in the United States.  More than 30 states, including Oklahoma, allow a write-off for charitable donations. For an Oklahoma taxpayer who claims itemized deductions, this state incentive can reduce the cost of giving by up to 5 percent.

One particular type of giving, however, enjoys a much more generous government subsidy.  In 2011, Oklahoma decided to supercharge its charitable donation incentive for contributions to private K-12 scholarship funds.  Donors who pledge to contribute for two consecutive years now receive a tax credit equal to 75 percent of the amount donated.  When combined with the state’s ordinary charitable deduction (a practice prohibited in most states with these types of credits, but allowed in Oklahoma), the end result is a program that reimburses donors for up to 80 percent of their contribution. That incentive is 16 times more generous than the 5 percent match the state offers on gifts to churches, food pantries, and other charities.

continue reading Private school tax subsidy blurs the line between charitable gift and money laundering (Guest post: Carl Davis)

Judges on the Ballot in Oklahoma: What you need to know

by | October 18th, 2016 | Posted in Elections | Comments (5)
Photo by julochka / CC BY-NC 2.0

Photo by julochka / CC BY-NC 2.0

The original version of this post was authored by past OK Policy intern Forrest Farjadian. It was updated for 2016 by OK Policy intern Chelsea Fiedler.

Oklahoma is one of 39 states where voters have a role in selecting judges. On November 8, Oklahoma voters will decide whether to retain two Supreme Court justices, two Court of Criminal Appeals judges and three Court of Civil Appeals judges. Judicial elections usually don’t attract as much publicity as other races, so we’re taking a look at how judges are chosen, what’s at stake in the elections, and how you can learn about the candidates.

continue reading Judges on the Ballot in Oklahoma: What you need to know

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 12