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

The Weekly Wonk September 21, 2014

by | September 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 examined new Census Bureau data and found Oklahoma’s poverty rate declined only slightly from 2012 to 2013, and that median incomes have yet to reach pre-recession levels. Policy Director Gene Perry was quoted in the Tulsa World’s coverage of the new data.

We explained Oklahoma’s broken electoral system and reviewed implications that the Governor’s office may be willing to restart criminal justice reform efforts. A guest blog post discussed how new domestic violence assessments performed by police could save Oklahoma women’s lives.

On this week’s PolicyCast, we talked about the new Census data, controversy over special needs students and newly released A-F grades for schools, the health of Oklahoman people and democracy, and more. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column this week, Executive Director David Blatt shared the story of a conservative, wealthy businessman’s reasoning behind supporting a minimum wage increase. KWGS watched a presentation Blatt gave on Oklahoma’s health issues and concluded that the state has a long way to go. 

In our Editorial of the Week, The Tahlequah Daily Press wrote that comments by state Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) are advancing unfounded hatred and suspicion against Oklahoma’s Muslims.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk September 21, 2014

The Weekly Wonk September 14, 2014

by | September 14th, 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, a post in our Neglected Oklahoma series described hunger in Oklahoma. We followed up on the situation of the unaccompanied children from Central America who had been housed at Fort Sill and the labyrinthine removal proceedings they are encountering. We’ve written about the children before. 

We explained that Oklahoma legislators selected which public employees will receive raises this year with little input from the agencies involved, creating a disjointed system wherein some workers receiving raises and some who won’t occupy very similar positions.

At the community forum “Resegregation of Tulsa Schools” hosted by the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice, Executive Director David Blatt spoke about how schools are still segregated by race and income. The Tulsa World wrote about the forum here. On this week’s PolicyCast, we discussed important headlines and announced an upcoming event series aimed at boosting citizen enrollment in Oklahoma. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column, Blatt explained how, contrary to popular prediction, the Affordable Care Act is working. Blatt was quoted in an MSNBC article on the increasing practice of levying court fines and fees to fund municipal budgets, and of imposing jail time if offenders are unable to pay.

The Okemah News Leader cited OK Policy in a discussion on raising the tipped wage. In our Editorial of the Week, the Tulsa World argues that Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma deserves a second look.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk September 14, 2014

The Weekly Wonk September 7, 2014

by | September 7th, 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. Because The Weekly Wonk was on break for the holiday weekend, this edition contains links from the past two weeks.

On the OK Policy Blog, we made the case for ending runoff elections. Executive Director David Blatt reiterated the point in his Journal Record column this week. A post in our Neglected Oklahoma series examined the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline, and a blog post by intern Tyler Parette called for long-term solutions for homelessness in Oklahoma. 

A guest blog post argued that with Oklahoma slashing funding for regulation of horse races, it may not be long before we see a doping or race-fixing scandal. Policy Director Gene Perry and former inner-city teacher John Thompson reviewed Amanda Ripley’s book, “The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They Got That Way.”

Last week’s OK PolicyCast featured discussion of “The Smartest Kids in the World,” as well as the loss of Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind Waiver and new details on the botched execution. This week, the OK PolicyCast examines a pair of lawsuits that could dramatically change tax politics in Oklahoma, one state lawmaker’s comments that have upset Oklahoma Muslims, and more. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column last week, Blatt discussed misperceptions about welfare in Oklahoma. Blatt spoke Thursday night at a panel on segregation in Tulsa’s public schools, where he noted that economic segregation has supplanted its racial predecessor. In our editorial of the week, The Oklahoman’s Editorial Board calls for greater scrutiny in issuing tax credits. We’ve written about tax credit reform before. 

Quote of the week:

“We made the point that if we don’t do anything about this problem in some manner, shape or form there will be cities that will not be able to afford a police department or a fire department.”

- Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, who is launching a campaign with Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett to get the state legislature to allow cities to diversify their source of revenue. Oklahoma municipalities are currently funded almost entirely by sales tax (Source: http://bit.ly/1uCGJlS).

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Numbers of the day:

  • $5,168 – Oklahomans’ per capita spending on energy in 2012, 12th highest in the nation.
  • 11.5% – Percentage of people with diabetes in Oklahoma. The national average is 9.7%.
  • $6.3 million – Direct spending by out-of-state and international travelers in Oklahoma in 2010.
  • 2049 – Year at which the Garber-Wellington aquifer, which supplies water to Oklahoma City, Moore, Norman, Sherman, and other towns, will be 50 percent depleted if usage continues at current rates.
  • 1st – Oklahoma’s ranking nationwide for the rate of African-Americans killed by law enforcement, 1999-2011.
  • $13.1 million – Earthquake insurance premiums paid by Oklahomans in 2013, almost triple the $4.8 million paid by Oklahomans in 2009.
  • -4.1% – Drop in Oklahoma’s voter registration rate, from 81.1% 2008 to 77.0% 2012.
  • 7.6% – How much real tax revenue in Oklahoma remains below the pre-recession peak.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

What we’re reading:

The Weekly Wonk August 24, 2014

by | August 24th, 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 examined the data and concluded that the popular assumption that Medicaid recipients make unnecessary trips to the ER is more based on myth and anecdote than fact. Now that the political dust has settled, we explored the impact of the third grade reading law on schools. In light of recent conversations on immigration, we took another look at the novel Kind of Kin, which explores the impact of immigration politics on a small Oklahoma town.

We are currently accepting applications for our fall internship and for our 2014-2015 research fellowship! Students working with OK Policy have a wide range of opportunities to conduct research, write blog posts, and contribute to OK Policy projects and events. We invite all interested candidates to apply by Friday, August 29. Find out more here.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt looks at long-withheld emails and wonders why the Governor’s office devoted so much attention to a perceived slight from OCPA and so little to the situation of 150,000 Oklahomans left without options for health insurance. In our Editorial of the Week, M. Scott Carter argues that lawmakers have instituted too many tax incentives without building in mechanisms to measure their impact.

Quote of the week:

“I wouldn’t label this an Obamacare grant. I think that classification is confusing to people and, in a sense, inaccurate.”

- Alex Weintz, Governor Fallin’s Communications Director, referring to a $3 million grant that the state applied for under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) (Source: http://bit.ly/1qrTQCS)

Numbers of the day:

  • $23,330 – Average mortgage debt in Oklahoma in 2013.
  • 4.6% – Oklahoma’s unemployment rate in July, up slightly from June’s unemployment rate (4.5%).
  • 34.4 million – Acres of farmland in Oklahoma, comprising 77% of all land in the state.
  • 3428,689 – Total number of motor vehicles registered in Oklahoma in 2011.
  • $111.23 – The value of goods and services that can be purchased for $100 in Oklahoma, compared to the national average.

What we’re reading:

The Weekly Wonk August 17, 2014

by | August 17th, 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 explained that tobacco tax revenue declined last year, and why that was (mostly) good news. A guest blog post argued that Kansas’s recent downgraded credit rating is well-deserved. OK Policy is accepting applications for fall interns and research fellows – you can find out more and apply here.

The OK PolicyCast this week featured a discussion of this week’s headlines and highlights from the education panel from our Summer Policy Institute. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt shared the legacy of former Oklahoma governor and state senator Henry Bellmon. We had previously honored Gov. Bellmon with the 2014 Good Sense/Good Cents award. The Tulsa World described the event here. In our Editorial of the Week, the editor of blog The Lost Ogle explains why the blog is continuing its lawsuit against Gov. Fallin regarding documents withheld from an open records request.

Quote of the week:

“I do not like the direction this is going…we sound like we agree with seceding from the union. It is obstructionist. It is not constructive or productive – it is just sour grapes. It is not leading, it is taking the easy way out. And it is does not acknowledge the facts.”

- Katie Altshuler, Gov. Fallin’s Policy Director, in an email to the Governor’s Chief of Staff discussing whether the state should create Oklahoma’s health insurance exchange. The email was part of a trove of documents ordered released on Monday following a lawsuit over their release (Source: http://bit.ly/VekNBz).

Numbers of the day:

  • $549.33 – Financial aid grant dollars per undergraduate student provided by the State of Oklahoma during the 2011-12 academic year. Oklahoma ranks 24th in the nation for state grant dollars per student.
  • 2308 – Total number of adult Oklahomans who received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families payments (commonly known as “welfare”) in May 2014.
  • 28.3% – Percentage of Oklahomans reporting no physical activity. The national average is 22.9%.
  • $61,178 – Average household income in Oklahoma in 2013.
  • 71,245 MWh – Net annual energy savings from Oklahoma utility PSO’s energy efficiency programs in 2013, enough to power about 6,500 homes for a year.

What we’re reading:

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