All articles by Kate Richey

The ‘work requirement’ that wasn’t

by | December 17th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Poverty, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (1)

Welfare as it exists in the minds of many Americans bears little resemblance to welfare as it exists in reality. The nation’s ‘welfare’ cash assistance program was functionally dismantled in the mid-1990s, but especially in Oklahoma, leaders still lean heavily on the specter of nanny state budget bloat and the work-shy freeloader. Even some twenty years after welfare was gutted, most voters either don’t know that the program was essentially eliminated or they have long since forgotten. This has made it easy for ambitious politicians to campaign on an ‘anti-welfare’ agenda while their actual proposals receive little scrutiny.

STATE OF THE STATEOklahoma legislators recently targeted a nutrition assistance program called SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly food stamps, citing a disdain for ‘welfare’ and a commitment to the value of hard work. Oklahoma’s former House Speaker T.W. Shannon introduced HB 1909 in 2013 with a familiar refrain:

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Upcoming Event: ‘Closing the gap’ & Alliance for Economic Inclusion

by | December 2nd, 2014 | Posted in Upcoming Events | Comments (1)

Photo_Kate RicheyThe Alliance for Economic Inclusion for Northeastern Oklahoma (“NEOK AEI”) will host their quarterly meeting this Thursday, December 4th. Kate Richey, who works for Oklahoma Policy Institute as project coordinator for Oklahoma Assets Network will present her research, ‘Closing the Opportunity Gap: Building Equity in Oklahoma.‘ This research outlines an equity agenda for Oklahoma’s future, one that acknowledges the racial wealth gap and income inequality as products of our collective history, culture, and public policies:

Oklahoma’s prosperity depends on the financial success and economic achievement of the people who call it home. For a state that has always been rich in natural resources and entrepreneurial spirit, the future continues to look bright. Yet we’ve also inherited a legacy of discrimination that historically impeded economic opportunity for people of color and created a wealth deficit that persists today. Left unaddressed, this wealth deficit threatens Oklahoma’s ability to achieve shared prosperity into the
future.

aeiThe NEOK AEI partnership seeks to improve the financial capability of low- to moderate-income consumers and is comprised of community based organizations, financial institutions, foundations, employers, faith-based organizations, tribal, state and local governmental agencies, bank regulators, and public officials. The NEOK AEI, launched in October 2012, has over 150 members representing 97 organizations. 

The meeting is free and open to the public and will be held from 6:00 to 8:00pm at 221 E Mathew B Brady St in Tulsa Oklahoma.

Better know Oklahoma with CountySTATs 2014

by | November 18th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (2)

Oklahoma Policy Institute is pleased to release a new and improved tool for learning about Oklahoma’s counties and residents. CountySTATS 2014 covers demographics, the economy, education, and health. The factsheets display statistics for each of the state’s 77 counties, incorporating:

  •  Key local statistics at-a-glance
  • Complicated information with colorful graphics 
  • Tools for quick comparisons along a range of indicators

Find out the percentage of residents who rely on social security disability or which industries employ the most people. Learn how a county’s overall health compares to the rest of the state. The colorful, two-page factsheets feature over 20 key indicators to provide a snapshot of your county.

 

What a profitable Postal Service looks like (Part Two)

by | November 11th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)
Postal Trucks

Photo by Ron Doke.

We already know from Part One in this series that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has a long history and excellent record of administering financial services, which up until now has been limited to savings products. But a new report from the Office of the Inspector General at USPS makes a convincing argument that your local post office is actually well-suited to offer a suite of financial products and services, not just savings bonds and accounts.

Table 1 below details the potential services that are feasible using existing postal service infrastructure, but it is not exhaustive. In addition to transactional services like bill payment and check cashing, USPS could partner with banks and credit unions to offer affordable credit options, like small dollar alternatives to payday loans.

continue reading What a profitable Postal Service looks like (Part Two)

In The Know: Candidates spar over the direction of public schools

by | October 29th, 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.

 State superintendent candidates John Cox and Joy Hofmeister debated the direction of public schools during a televised debate. Under new guidance from the Health Dept., Oklahoma will not require a blanket quarantine for all health-care workers who visited West Africa.

The House Utility and Environmental Regulation Committee held an interim study on the link between fracking and earthquakes in Oklahoma. The Oklahoman Editorial Board argued that lawmakers can’t be ‘tough on crime’ if they aren’t fully funding corrections.

Oklahoma City and Tulsa rank among the most-affordable big cities in the United States according to Kiplinger. A guest post on the OK Policy Blog discussed a new effort to bring millennial voters to the polls and millennial voices to the policy-making table.

In today’s Policy Note, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrated the long-term economic growth potential for states who would choose to spend less in maintaining extremely high prison populations and spent more instead on public education. The Number of the Day is how many Oklahomans with physical or mental disabilities obtained gainful employment through services provided by the Department of Rehabilitation Service.

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In The Know: Superintendent candidates square off in debate

by | October 28th, 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.

Today you should know that the state’s superintendent candidates squared off in a public debate. Applications to vote by mail with an absentee ballot in Oklahoma can be requested until 5 p.m. Wednesday and the polls will be open for early voting this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The Cherokee Nation celebrated the construction of a $5 million treatment center for teens struggling with substance abuse. Amid predictions of a steep drop in oil prices, industry leaders are reassuring investors that even at much lower prices they can still return ample profits. Family Builders operates one of several domestic violence intervention programs, which provide court-ordered therapy and rehabilitation to perpetrators of abuse.

OK Policy posted the next in its series on ‘broken democracy’, soliciting ideas from citizen leaders to address lackluster voter participation in local elections. U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe says he’s spending “almost every waking moment” campaigning for other people and yesterday was in Lithuania for the opening of a port facility to handle liquefied natural gas.

In today’s Policy Note, the Legal Action Center highlights the case of a three year old toddler put into official immigration court proceedings on his own, without legal representation to help him explain to the court why he should be granted asylum and not be deported. The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans who acknowledge that the climate is changing. 

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How a profitable Postal Service could pad your pockets (Part One)

by | October 21st, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security | Comments (0)

140814_JURIS_USPS.jpg.CROP.promo-mediumlargeTo say that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has struggled to find its place in a changing information age is an understatement. Facing the exponential growth of digital communication, stiff competition from private firms, and draconian budget cuts, USPS hobbles into an uncertain future. Yet the public post remains an important part of American life and it still plays an indispensable role in rural commerce, culture, and medicine.

This post is the first in a series that examines a new opportunity for USPS to diversify its revenue base, fill urgent and unmet needs for millions of households, and secure its place as the socioeconomic touchstone of remote and sparsely populated areas long-neglected by private development. Part one in this series reviews the history and record of postal financial services, in the U.S. and around the world. Part two examines the suite of financial products and services that USPS is uniquely positioned to provide, and explores which business model would serve the community (and the taxpayer) best.  Finally, part three reviews the benefits of the endeavor for all the parties involved and affected – banks, consumers, and the faltering U.S. Postal Service.

continue reading How a profitable Postal Service could pad your pockets (Part One)

In The Know: Oklahoma leads the U.S. in education cuts for 2nd straight year

by | October 16th, 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.

Oklahoma leads the nation for the second straight year in the percentage of per-student spending cuts, according to a new report. The Governor’s Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity held its first meeting earlier this month, but the council can’t write rules, it has no formal responsibilities or authority and it is not planning on preparing a report or making any policy recommendations.

OK Policy wrote about how the state’s judges are chosen, what’s at stake in the elections, and how you can learn about the candidates. The blood lead levels of children living in Ottawa County and the Tar Creek Superfund cleanup site have been falling since 1997

The Oklahoman Editorial Board argued that the state was right to continue to postpone pending executions. The large gap between educational attainment and workforce needs continues to grow in Oklahoma; only two in ten high school graduates earn a post-secondary certificate or degree.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahoma’s elementary school teachers who are women. In today’s Policy Note, a new study has found that the number of emergency room visits falls dramatically within a year when low-income adults are enrolled in public health coverage. 

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma leads the U.S. in education cuts for 2nd straight year

In The Know: State Supreme Court hears arguments in tax cut challenge

by | October 15th, 2014 | Posted in Blog | 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.

Oklahoma Supreme Court justices interrupted the state’s solicitor general repeatedly with questions during oral argument in a case challenging the constitutionality of an income tax cut passed earlier this year. State Health Commissioner Terry Cline says no cases of Ebola have been reported in Oklahoma, but the state is ready in case of outbreak.

The OK Policy Blog examines two state ballot questions that would expand property tax breaks for certain military personnel and their families. An editorial in The Oklahoman pointed out that a bill to expand DNA testing of persons charged with some crimes might be set back by testimony from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation that thousands of tests already mandated under existing law go undone. 

Only 2 percent of U.S. colleges and universities are giving students the best tools for success, according to a new report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, and The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma is among them. Protesters are planning to demonstrate at Oklahoma City University’s International Energy Conference this week.

The Number of the Day is the number of active underground storage tanks in Oklahoma carrying hazardous substances or petroleum. In today’s Policy Note, Politico surveys the fluid, confusing legal environment facing immigration courts as thousands of migrant children from Central America process through the system, many without representation.

continue reading In The Know: State Supreme Court hears arguments in tax cut challenge

In The Know: Oklahoma ranks third in rate of women killed by men

by | September 10th, 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.

Oklahoma again ranked third for the rate at which men killed women, according to a new study released by the Violence Policy Center. The ACLU of Oklahoma asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to nullify a lower court’s decision that Gov. Fallin could use “deliberative process privilege” to withhold records from the public.

A Ponca City legislator hosted an interim study for constituents concerned that oil and gas drilling activities have contaminated water wells or caused wells to go dry. Representatives from the Oklahoma Geological Survey provided the Corporation Commission with an update on their study of the state’s ongoing earthquake swarm.

At a hearing on Capitol Hill, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn criticized the practice of making military equipment available to state and local law enforcement agencies. The Oklahoma City Council is considering new ridesharing regulations in response to services like Uber that compete with taxi cabs.

The OK Policy Blog reports on where the children previously held at Ft. Sill are now and what their futures look like. The Number of the Day is the average mortgage debt in Oklahoma.  In today’s Policy Note, Fivethirtyeight.com examined state variation in a new report on food insecurity across the country.

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma ranks third in rate of women killed by men

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