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Cuts to alternative education will come back to haunt us

by | July 27th, 2016 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Education | Comments (0)

street schoolNothing is as critical to a young person’s future prospects as a high school diploma. Decades of research shows that those who drop out of high school are at significantly higher risk of being unemployed, living in poverty, and serving time in prison.

Over the past two decades, Oklahoma has been a national leader for alternative education programs that keep at-risk students in school and help them to graduate. Despite this proven success, education funding cuts have now slashed support for alternative education in half and are leaving our most at-risk students without the support they need for educational success.

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In The Know: Oklahoma’s first black state senator dies

by | July 27th, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Oklahoma’s first black state senator dies: E. Melvin Porter, Oklahoma’s first black state senator, died Tuesday. He was 86. Porter’s cause of death was not immediately known. Born in Okmulgee in 1930, Porter was a member of the first class including blacks at Vanderbilt University Law School. He went on to become president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1961 [NewsOK].

Lawmakers again will push equal pay for women: A bill to reduce the wage gap between women and men who do the same jobs is expected to return next legislative session, supporters said Tuesday. Currently, Oklahoma women who work full time, year-round earn 80 cents for every $1 earned by their male counterparts, according to a 2015 paper by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a nonprofit think tank on women’s economic issues [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma women can’t afford wage discrimination [OK Policy].

New stabilization fund will help with future Oklahoma budgeting: Legislators creating the 2028 budget see that they’ll have far less to spend than they did in 2027. However, no parent calls their child’s principal to ask if their teacher will be laid off. Instead, state budget makers turn to the Revenue Stabilization Fund and the Rainy Day Fund, where, cumulatively, over a billion dollars has been waiting for just such a day. As legislators serving during the budget crisis of 2016, when a dramatic drop in energy prices caused a $1.3 billion shortfall, we wished the fantasy above could have been our reality [David Holt and John Michael Montgomery / NewsOK].

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In The Know: Minority students set to become new majority in Oklahoma schools

by | July 26th, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Minority students set to become new majority in Oklahoma schools: At a recent school event, the principal of Lee Elementary told a joke about the new school year’s super hero theme, but it failed to elicit a response from Rogero Romero. When the principal paused in her speech, Romero turned his head to the left and listened as an interpreter translated the joke into Spanish, which resulted in a wide grin from Romero as he patted the head of his granddaughter, who will begin prekindergarten next week at this south Oklahoma City school [NewsOK].

An Oklahoma Agenda for Broad-Based Prosperity: Years of shrinking funding have undermined Oklahoma’s most important public investments in education, public health and safety, and other core services. At the same time, Oklahoma families are living in an economy marked by limited access to good-paying jobs, persistent poverty, and lack of upward mobility, even before a weakening oil and gas industry made the situation worse. In response to this continuing crisis in our state, we’ve published a new policy agenda for Oklahoma that can help turn these negative trends around [OK Policy].

Tulsa Talks organizer works to effect change with community input: DeVon Douglass did something last week in a Tulsa public meeting about race relations that needs to be commended. She brought a laugh. From everyone. She kept control of the microphone. She stopped booing and meandering stories. Just when things got a bit intense, she bit through the tension to steer everything back to a productive pace [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World].

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An Oklahoma Agenda for Broad-Based Prosperity

by | July 25th, 2016 | Posted in Blog, Featured Home Page | Comments (0)

countryside roadsThe next class of state lawmakers will face huge challenges when it comes to their most important task of supporting broad-based prosperity for Oklahomans. Years of shrinking funding have undermined Oklahoma’s most important public investments in education, public health and safety, and other core services. At the same time, Oklahoma families are living in an economy marked by limited access to good-paying jobs, persistent poverty, and lack of upward mobility, even before a weakening oil and gas industry made the situation worse.

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In The Know: 2016 sees increase in women running for Oklahoma Legislature

by | July 25th, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

2016 sees increase in women running for Oklahoma Legislature: The number of female candidates for the Oklahoma Legislature is almost as high this year as the last two election cycles combined. If these candidates are successful, the state could boost its current low ranking for women holding legislative positions. Seventy-seven women filed for a state legislative seat this year and 56 were still in the race after last month’s primaries, according to Oklahoma State Election Board records [NewsOK]. There are some offices in Oklahoma where women already hold most of the seats [OK Policy].

Oklahoma Democrats heading to Philadelphia for historic national convention: Isabel Baker attended her first Democratic National Convention in 1960 in Los Angeles, where John F. Kennedy won the nomination. She’s been to quite a few in between and is looking forward to being a delegate in Philadelphia next week to help Hillary Clinton become the first female presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party. “I never in my 87 years thought I’d see a woman at this point,” said Baker [NewsOK].

Oklahoma senator’s opponents say consulting payments to candidate from PAC are unfair: A political action committee formed to support Republican candidates for state Senate has paid state Sen. Greg Treat more than $61,000 since 2014. Had the money come to Treat in the form of campaign contributions, it would have been a state ethics violation. Treat, R-Oklahoma City, only has general election opponents, so his 2016 campaign is prohibited from receiving more than $5,000 from any particular PAC. These payments appear to be permissible, however, because the PAC was paying Treat as a consultant rather than making a contribution to his re-election campaign, said Lee Slater, former executive director of the Oklahoma Ethics Commission [NewsOK].

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The Weekly Wonk: Raise the minimum wage, off the runoff, and more

by | July 24th, 2016 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that raising the minimum wage would be good for both working families and local economies. Intern Kylie Thomas explained that income inequality in Oklahoma has declined

Blatt’s Journal Record column argued that Oklahoma should end runoff elections, a topic he explored in greater depth in a blog post on the same topic. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update explained a new initiative to offer treatment for Oklahomans with prescription drug addiction issues.

Weekly What’s That

Coinsurance

Coinsurance” (or co-insurance) is an insurance term that means splitting or spreading risk among multiple parties. Expressed as a percentage, it describes what portion of health care costs will be paid by an insurance company after the insured person has exceeded their deductible up to the policy’s stop-loss (after which all related costs are typically covered). Read more.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

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Oklahoma drug law enforcement agency moves toward ‘treatment option’ to combat addiction (Capitol Updates)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. You can find past Capitol Updates archived  on his website.

There was an important announcement this week by leaders of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBNDD) that they would like to start offering a “treatment option,” in conjunction with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) for people who show up on their prescription monitoring program as serial purchasers of certain addictive drugs. You may remember the prescription monitoring program was created by legislation authored in 2015 by Rep. Doug Cox (R-Grove) and Sen. A.J. Griffin (R-Guthrie.) It requires pharmacists to report every prescription purchase of certain drugs to the PMP. Physicians are required to check the PMP before writing a first prescription of those drugs to any patient, and thereafter every 6 months before renewing a prescription.

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In The Know: Fallin says Trump can unite a divided and fearful country

by | July 22nd, 2016 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Fallin says Trump can unite a divided and fearful country: Depicting Americans as divided and afraid, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said here Thursday Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump “will get this country on the right track.” “We must make America one again and restore confidence in the strength of our nation,” Fallin said in a speech at the Republican National Convention. The second-term governor spoke in prime time for a third consecutive national convention, though this was her first to speak on the final night [NewsOK]. Video is available here.

Capitol to be under construction for six years, tenants told: Construction on the outside of the state Capitol will begin early next month and take six years to complete, tenants were told Thursday. Scaffolding has started going up on the north side of the building. The restoration of the outside will begin Aug. 8. Officials will be repairing, restoring and replacing exterior stone, said Josh Martin, vice president of operations for JE Dunn Construction Co. [Tulsa World].

Confront the ‘parasite economy’ by raising the minimum wage: Every three months, the ADP Research Institute releases its Workforce Vitality Index, a measure of private sector job and wage growth. For the past two quarters, Washington state has led the nation in growing jobs and boosting wages, far outpacing the national average and such states as Texas, Florida, and California. Why does this matter? Because Washington state has one of the highest minimum wages in the nation at $9.47 an hour [OK Policy].

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Confront the ‘parasite economy’ by raising the minimum wage

by | July 21st, 2016 | Posted in Blog, Economy, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (1)

Every three months, the ADP Research Institute releases its Workforce Vitality Index, a measure of private sector job and wage growth.  For the past two quarters, Washington state has led the nation in growing jobs and boosting wages, far outpacing the national average and such states as Texas, Florida, and California.

Why does this matter?   Because Washington state has one of the highest minimum wages in the nation at $9.47 an hour. And since April 2015, the city of Seattle has been moving towards a $15 minimum wage, with the current minimum ranging from $10.50 to $13 depending on employer size.  As the Workforce Vitality Index shows, businesses in Seattle and Washington state are thriving and generating more employment. Seattle’s restaurant industry — which fought the wage laws fiercely — is continuing to add jobs.

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In The Know: Trump considering fracking mogul Harold Hamm as energy secretary

by | July 21st, 2016 | Posted in Blog | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Exclusive: Trump considering fracking mogul Harold Hamm as energy secretary – sources: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is considering nominating Oklahoma oil and gas mogul Harold Hamm as energy secretary if elected to the White House on Nov. 8, according to four sources close to Trump’s campaign. The chief executive of Continental Resources (CLR.N) would be the first U.S. energy secretary drawn directly from the oil and gas industry since the cabinet position was created in 1977, a move that would jolt environmental advocates but bolster Trump’s pro-drilling energy platform [Reuters].

Fallin readies prime-time speech at Republican convention: Gov. Mary Fallin plans to speak at the Republican National Convention here Thursday about “things that are valuable in life, the principles that made America great and what we need to do to make America great again.” The governor has a 6-minute slot on the last night of the convention, when Donald J. Trump is set to accept the nomination for president [NewsOK].

Promises of change made at Tulsa Talks forum on law enforcement, race issues: The best-attended discussion in recent weeks about law enforcement and racial divides in Tulsa left community leaders with several promises on policy changes Tuesday. Tulsa Police Department and Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office officials told an audience of several hundred people that they would look into adopting several practices, including requiring officers to better identify themselves, publish education about how people should interact in arrest situations and include implicit-racial-bias training for officers [Tulsa World]. Three takeaways from the meeting are available here.

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