Use these tools to decipher the Oklahoma Legislature

Photo by David Goehring.

Photo by David Goehring.

Next week, the Oklahoma Legislature comes back into session. Legislators will debate bills and make decisions that affect all Oklahomans, but the process can be hard to follow for the average citizen. That’s why we’ve created a number of tools to help you decipher what happens at the state Capitol.

continue reading Use these tools to decipher the Oklahoma Legislature

The Weekly Wonk for January 11, 2015

by | January 11th, 2015 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This week, OK Policy executive director David Blatt discussed why another tax cut is being triggered even as Oklahoma already faces a nearly $300 million budget shortfall. OK Policy research fellow Cassidy Hamilton looked at what’s behind Oklahoma’s high infant mortality rate and the troubling statistic that African-American infants in Oklahoma are more likely to die in their first year of life than children born in the Gaza Strip or in Saudi Arabia. Policy analyst Carly Putnam explained how Oklahoma lawmakers’ refusal to accept federal funds to cover the uninsured is devastating the state’s rural hospitals.

For the latest post in our Neglected Oklahoma series, Camille Landry looks at the stark contrast between how Oklahoma and Missouri handle foster care reunifications, and how Oklahoma families are paying a tragic price. This week’s Capitol Update from Steve Lewis discusses how all the talk of budget reform won’t accomplish much until lawmakers quit gambling on tomorrow’s revenue. In the latest OK PolicyCast, we talk with April Merrill, an attorney with Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, about what it’s like serving as part of Oklahoma’s “emergency room” for legal assistance.

The Oklahoman shared comments from David Blatt and others on what was the biggest Oklahoma health story of 2014. CapitolBeatOK wrote that OK Policy’s role of providing another side to policy debates at the capitol was one of the top Oklahoma news stories of 2014.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk for January 11, 2015

Our 11 most popular blog posts in 2014

by | December 29th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

1024px-Internet1This year OK Policy reached more people through our web site than ever before. Visitors over the course of the year were up 70 percent from 2013, and we averaged more than 25,000 visitors per month. Of those, 65.1 percent of our visitors came from Oklahoma, 7.2 percent came from Texas, and 2.7 percent from California. No other state or country brought more than 2 percent of the visitors to our site. 

Within the state, readers in Oklahoma City led the way by making up 29.8 percent of our visits. OKC was followed by Tulsa at 17.9 percent and Norman at 7.4 percent. Just over half of visitors viewed our site on a desktop computer (51.3 percent), compared to 38.7 percent reading on a mobile phone and 10.0 percent on a tablet.

So what were they coming to see? Here are our top 11 most popular posts for the year. (This list includes only posts that were originally published in 2014. A couple of perennial favorites about private prisons and drug-testing welfare applicants also made the most-read list.)

continue reading Our 11 most popular blog posts in 2014

Five reasons NOT to donate to OK Policy

by | December 23rd, 2014 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (0)

Close-up ScroogeTypically, when we reach out to ask you to contribute to Oklahoma Policy Institute, we list all the good reasons why you should support our work with a tax-deductible donation. But because we are a fair and nonpartisan organization, it’s become an end-of-year tradition for us to share a reminder that there are plenty of great reasons not to contribute to OK Policy as well. Here are five of them:

continue reading Five reasons NOT to donate to OK Policy

The Weekly Wonk December 21, 2014

by | December 21st, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This week, we released a new report examining why Oklahoma’s democracy is broken and how we can fix it. You can download the full report here, download an executive summary, or watch an animated video summarizing the report. In this week’s episode of the OK PolicyCast, we interviewed Executive Director David Blatt about the report and reviewed the major headlines of the week. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

More of our work on elections in Oklahoma is available here. A guest blog post from OK Policy research fellow Ryan Gentzler explains why the school funding problem is even worse than we thought. A new blog post discusses how Oklahoma lawmakers passed a “work requirement” for food assistance that imposed no actual new requirements, while stripping out funds for job training and education that could have actually helped the unemployed find work. In his weekly Capitol Update, Steve Lewis shares how committee appointments reveal who the most influential legislators will be next year.

On January 29th, OK Policy will host our second annual State Budget Summit, titled “Mind the Gap: Sensible Budget Policy in Challenging Times.” The keynote address will be delivered by columnist E.J. Dionne, whose work appears in the Washington Post, NPR and other publications. Tickets may be purchased here.

Writing in this week’s Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discussed increasing calls for wind industry tax credit reforms. Oklahoma Watch quoted OK Policy in a discussion of an Affordable Care Act grant won by the state. KFOR included OK Policy’s statement in their coverage of the triggered tax break for the wealthy. Ballot Access News shared our report on repairing Oklahoma’s broken democracy. In our Editorial of the Week, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ Michael Carnuccio argued in favor of sensible criminal justice reform.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk December 21, 2014

Upcoming Event: State Budget Summit featuring E.J. Dionne

by | December 15th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Budget, OK Policy, Taxes, Upcoming Events | Comments (0)
Photo by Marcin Wichary.

Photo by Marcin Wichary.

Although Oklahoma is now several years removed from the worst of the fiscal crisis that accompanied the Great Recession, the gap between the cost of providing basic public services and the revenues we collect to pay for them seems to be growing. State agencies continue to be squeezed by budget cuts and funding shortfalls, tax collections are flat or declining, and ever greater challenges are looming on the horizon. What ideas and solutions can we bring to bear to address the fiscal gap?

These questions will be addressed on Thursday, January 29th as part of OK Policy’s 2nd State Budget Summit, titled “Mind the Gap: Sensible Budget Policy in Challenging Times”.  The event will run from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at the Will Rogers Theater, 4322 N. Western Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73118. Click here to buy tickets. The cost is $60, which includes morning refreshments and lunch; scholarships are available for students and those for whom cost would be an obstacle (to request a scholarship, send a brief email to info@okpolicy.org)

continue reading Upcoming Event: State Budget Summit featuring E.J. Dionne

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.

 

The Weekly Wonk October 5, 2014

by | October 5th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

On the OK Policy Blog, we explained why the lottery hasn’t solved Oklahoma’s education funding issues. We argued the conservative case for raising the minimum wage, and in our continuing discussion of Oklahoma’s broken democracy, we discussed barriers to voter participation.  In a guest post, Monica Barczak of Community Action Project Tulsa shared a new brief on WIC (Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants & Children) in Oklahoma and offered suggestions for reform.

On November 10th, OK Policy will host Dr. Lawrence R. Jacobs, a leading expert on health care policy, for his lunchtime talk “The 2014 Elections and the Future of Health Reform.” Click here to purchase tickets. We look forward to seeing you there.

This week on the OK PolicyCast, we talked with Executive Director David Blatt about the state of Oklahoma’s democracy, discussing why so few Oklahomans involve themselves in the process of choosing elected officials. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column, Blatt called for a criminal justice system based on reason, not fear. KGOU aired a panel discussion on the legacy of Gov. Henry Bellmon following OK Policy’s presentation of the 2014 Good Sense/Good Cents award to Gov. Bellmon’s daughters at our Summer Policy Institute. In our Editorial of the Week, Randy Krehbiel of the Tulsa World explains how widening economic inequality is in part to blame for declining tax revenues.

Quote of the week:

“One thing that immediately stands out in White’s opinion is just how thin his legal reasoning is. Despite the fact that this case concerns a matter of life and death for the millions of Americans he orders uninsured, his actual discussion of the merits of this case comprises less than 7 double-spaced pages of his opinion. In that brief analysis he quotes the two other Republican judges who ordered Obamacare defunded, claiming that ‘the government offers no textual basis’ in the Affordable Care Act itself for treating federally-run exchanges the same as those run by states. In fact, the government has identified numerous provisions of the law which cut against the argument that only some exchanges should provide subsidies.”

- Ian Millhiser, a Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress, writing about an U.S. District Judge’s decision upholding Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. The decision will be appealed to the 10th Circuit Court in Denver (Source: http://bit.ly/1vxaqY4).

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Numbers of the day:

  • 3 to 1 – How much suicide deaths in Oklahoma outnumber homicides.
  • $26.42 – The median hourly wage for statisticians in Oklahoma.
  • 63,270 -Number of Oklahoma children who received subsidized childcare in 2013 so their parents can participate in employment or education.
  • 34 – Number of critical access hospitals in Oklahoma. Hospitals designated critical access hospitals are typically small (no more than 25 beds) and rural, and are the only acute-care option in isolated areas.
  • 27.8% – Percentage of income that renters in Oklahoma devoted to housing in 2013, up from 24.3 percent in 2000.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

What we’re reading:

The Weekly Wonk September 28, 2014

by | September 28th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This week on the OK Policy Blog, we explained how funding cuts are leaving Oklahoma’s community health centers in dire straits. We’ve previously discussed funding woes for community health centers. We illustrated how indiscriminate DNA testing could put innocent Oklahomans at risk. In this week’s Capitol Updates post, Steve Lewis describes the advent of the state budget process and the discomfort that ensues when agency directors trying to do good fight over limited funds. We also welcomed our new class of Research Fellows and interns.

This week on the PolicyCast, we talked about the growing crisis in Oklahoma’s prisons and signs that state leaders might actually do something about it; yet another controversy around state Superintendent Barresi; how the Oklahoma governor’s race is heating up on the airwaves; and more. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt evaluated new poverty data and noted that Oklahoma’s economy is only as good as political leaders say it is if you’re not poor or middle-class. Ozy Magazine quoted Blatt in an article on past and impending income tax cuts across the US. The Enid News previewed and covered a Together Tuesdays event. Learn more about Together OK‘s Together Tuesdays here.

KGOU aired audio from a panel on Oklahoma’s fiscal challenges. The panel had convened as part of our 2014 Summer Policy Institute. In our Editorial of the Week, former CEO of Oklahoma Health Care Authority Mike Fogarty explained why accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma would be good for the state’s health.

Quote of the week:

“There’s supposed to be two per cell but there’s, like you know, five or six in a cell. People are sleeping under beds and in walkways; some aren’t on mats but on the floor.”

- A woman whose husband was in the Okmulgee County jail, which is currently housing more than double the 150 inmates it was designed to hold. A riot early this week caused $10,000 in damage and sent one inmate to the hospital. Prison officials blamed the riot on “extreme overcrowding.” (Source: http://bit.ly/Y4immr)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Numbers of the day:

  • 18.3% – The poverty rate for women in Oklahoma, 1.5 percentage points higher than the state as a whole.
  • 28.06% – Percentage of Oklahoma nursing homes with “severe deficiencies,” defined as violations of state or federal law that resulted in resident injury, abuse, neglect or death.
  • 22.9% – Poverty rate for Native Americans in Oklahoma in 2013, 6.1 percentage points higher than the US as a whole.
  • $2.55 million – How much Oklahoma put in a fund to reimburse uncompensated care at community health centers this year — less than one-third of what they said they will need, and even less than the $3.12 million FY 2014 funding that ran out before half the year was over.
  • 2,300 – Unintentional injury deaths in Oklahoma in 2012, 1 out of every 16 deaths in the state that year. The leading causes of unintentional injury death include poisonings, motor vehicle crashes, and falls.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

What we’re reading:

Introducing our new class of Research Fellows and interns

by | September 23rd, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (1)

graduation-cap-10Oklahoma Policy Institute is very pleased to announce the selection of four Oklahoma graduate students as our second class of OK Policy Research Fellows.

The 2014-15 Research Fellows are all distinguished by a combination of strong research interests and an active personal commitment to improving the well-being of disadvantaged Oklahomans:

continue reading Introducing our new class of Research Fellows and interns

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