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In The Know: Emails reveal behind-the-scenes discussion of school report cards

by | December 17th, 2012 | 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 Tulsa World obtained emails showing how state leaders made the decision to move forward with the new A-F school grading system that more than 300 superintendents say is flawed. A Muslim man is seeking answers from federal law enforcement agencies about what he describes as their harassment of him and his family since his return to Oklahoma from the Middle East. Hours before a gunman opened fire at a Connecticut elementary school, police in Oklahoma arrested a teenager for allegedly plotting to attack his high school.

Wayne Greene discussed how the 2010 budget crisis was used to strike a tax deal with the oil and gas industry that is now costing the state dearly. OK Policy previously made the case for why Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry tax breaks are unnecessary and unaffordable. State budget cuts may soon kill the only source of free adult basic education courses and GED testing in Lawton.

Oklahoma hospitals remain determined to convince state leaders to expand Oklahoma’s Medicaid program. An Oklahoma City commercial real estate broker writes in NewsOK on why providing health care access is pro-business. See more resources from OK Policy on why expanding Medicaid in Oklahoma makes sense.

NewsOK reported on the challenge for incoming House Speaker T.W. Shannon to manage competing factions within his own party. Shannon has named new House Committee leaders and created a States’ Rights Committee. Oklahoma House Democrats say they can still be effective to challenge cuts to the personal income tax rate that could cripple state government. The Enid News and Eagle warned that legislators should proceed with caution on tax cuts, and the Tulsa World wrote that the renewed tax cut discussion is oblivious to Oklahoma’s circumstances.

 The Number of the Day is the number of schools in Oklahoma awarded a 2012 National Blue Ribbon for explemary high performance. In today’s Policy Note, the Huffington Post reports on why Walmart workers are especially vulnerable to going without medical coverage in states that do not join the Medicaid expansion.

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The Weekly Wonk: December 14, 2012

by | December 14th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week Oklahoma Policy Institute posted a letter from our bipartisan Board of Directors urging Governor Fallin and legislative leaders to reconsider their decision to turn down federal money to expand Medicaid.  

OK Policy was cited in an article in the The City Sentinel on why opting out of the expansion would negatively impact the healthcare industry and harm community health centers.  Our work on the Medicaid expansion was also cited in articles by the Oklahoma Gazette and Tulsa World.

The OK Policy Blog looked at whether upcoming federal budget cuts and tax increases are a fiscal cliff, slope, or hostage crisis.  A guest post from Dr. Jeff Alderman questioned Governor Fallin’s projections of the state costs of Medicaid expansion.  David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed how the Kansas tax cut experiment is creating huge budget shortfalls.

Policy Notes

Numbers of the Day

  • 6,230 – Number of Oklahoma teens & young adults now eligible for a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation under Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
  • $1,679,000,000 – Annual federal payroll expenditures to active duty military service members in Oklahoma, 2009

In The Know: Arkansas GOP considering opting-in to Medicaid expansion

by | December 14th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments Off on In The Know: Arkansas GOP considering opting-in to Medicaid expansion

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 Arkansas Republicans are seriously considering opting-in to Medicaid expansion.  The ACLU of Oklahoma filed Open Records requests with the Governor’s office and other agents of state government, on behalf of entertainment and satire website TheLostOgle.com; they are preparing to challenge the Governor’s legal arguments in court if the requests are denied.

A U.S. Air Force veteran and McAlester native is asking the Justice Department to investigate local law enforcement and FBI agents who have been following and harassing he and his family.  Tax breaks for horizontal drilling in Oklahoma are gutting gross production tax revenue.  

Oklahoma ranks among the worst in the nation in female representation.  The incoming House speaker has formed two new committees and issued leadership assignments for the standing House committees.  The IRS and Treasury Department have proposed guidance intended to clear up confusion about what is taxable and what is excluded under existing statutes for tribal nations.

In today’s Policy Note, Small Business Majority polled small business owners for their opinions on economic policy, tax cuts, jobs and the role of government.  The Number of the Day is the number of Oklahoma teens and young adults now eligible for a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation under Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA). 

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The incredible disappearing gross production tax

by | December 13th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Taxes | Comments (1)

With all the attention last legislative session on the failed attempt to do away with the state personal income tax, a potentially bigger story seems to have escaped most people’s notice: the effective disappearance of the gross production tax.

This week, Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger announced General Revenue (GR) collections for November, the fifth month of FY 2013. For the month, the GR fund collected $0 from gross production tax revenues; year-to-date, gross production collections to GR are a miniscule $6.7 million. The graph below shows how FY 2013 gross production collections compare to prior years: since 2001 (the earliest year for which we have monthly data), gross production revenues through November have averaged $194 million and have never been less than $94 million.

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In The Know: Fight for expanded Medicaid isn’t over

by | December 13th, 2012 | 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 in spite of Fallin’s decision to not accept billions in federal dollars to help uninsured Oklahomans, the fight for expanded Medicaid isn’t over. Variety Care Foundation Executive Director Andrew Rice said opting out of the expansion would have a terrible impact on the healthcare industry and would particularly harm community health centers. The bipartisan Oklahoma Policy Institute Board of Directors wrote a letter urging Governor Fallin and legislative leaders to reconsider the decision. 

The OK Policy Blog discussed a Missouri study that puts Governor Fallin’s projections of the state costs of expansion into doubt. Oklahoma rose in national health rankings but is still among the 10 worst states. A group of Texas restaurants has asked permission to join Oklahoma’s legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act in order to avoid offering health benefits to its minimum-wage workers.

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis is refusing to release his emails related to Chesapeake Energy. Gov. Mary Fallin cited “executive privilege” to refuse to release emails related to her decisions on the federal health exchange grant, even though such a privilege is not found in the Oklahoma Open Records Act. The OK Policy Blog looks at whether upcoming federal budget cuts and tax increases are a fiscal cliff, slope, or hostage crisis.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses how Kansas’ tax cut experiment is causing huge budget shortfalls. This Land Press discussed the impact of Oklahoma’s “right-to-work” law since its passage in 2001. Fox23 reported on Oklahoma families working multiple jobs and still struggling to get by.

The Number of the Day is the annual federal payroll expenditures to active duty military service members in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog shares ten ways to reduce inequality without raising tax rates.

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Leadership urged to reconsider Medicaid expansion decision

by | December 12th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare, OK Policy | Comments (1)

In a letter from its Board of Directors, Oklahoma Policy Institute has urged Governor Fallin and legislative leaders to reconsider the Governor’s decision not to participate in the expansion of Medicaid for uninsured low-income adults.

“The practical benefits of accepting these benefits would be positive for Oklahoma families, healthcare providers, businesses, and the state’s economy as a whole”, the letter states.

The bipartisan seven-member Board of Directors is chaired by Vincent LoVoi and includes Don Millican, Nancy Robertson, Albert “Kell” Kelly, Steve Burrage, Susan Neal and Linda Edmondson.

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Cliff, slope, or hostage crisis?

by | December 11th, 2012 | Posted in Budget, Economy, Taxes | Comments (0)

Since the election, Washington DC has been consumed by debate over the “fiscal cliff,” a number of large spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect at the beginning of next year.

Due to the spending cuts, Oklahoma would receive about $100 million less in federal funding, with education programs for high-poverty, special education, and very young students from low income families especially affected. One estimate projects the spending cuts would eliminate 16,000 jobs in Oklahoma over the next 15 months

On the tax side, income tax rate increases would cost a median-income Oklahoma family of four (earning $63,100) about $2,200. That’s on top of a payroll tax increase and reductions in the federal Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit that would especially harm low-income families. The Congressional Budget Office reports that not acting to avoid the fiscal cliff would send the economy back into recession.

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Jeff Alderman: Missouri analysis shows economic benefits of Medicaid expansion

by | December 10th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (3)

Jeff Alderman, MD is an associate professor at OU-Tulsa, and a regular contributor to OK Policy’s blog

Governor Mary Fallin recently decided to forego Medicaid expansion for low-income adults in Oklahoma under the Affordable Care Act.  The Governor asserted that Oklahoma’s cost for Medicaid expansion would approach $475 million between 2014 and 2020, which would significantly jeopardize critical parts of the state’s budget like education and public safety.

As OK Policy has shown, the Governor overstates the true cost of Medicaid expansion by making unrealistic assumptions, while ignoring potential savings and new revenues. A newly released study commissioned by the Missouri Hospital Administration further calls Governor Fallin’s projections into doubt. Using sophisticated research tools, including highly regarded economic software called IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning), researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and a Vienna, Va.-based health consulting firm concluded that expanding Medicaid in Missouri (which has nearly double the population of Oklahoma) would cost the federal government $8.2 billion and the state $333 million between 2014 and 2020. Yet, the report strongly suggests that Missouri would actually generate additional revenue from Medicaid expansion, resulting from increased jobs and stronger economic growth in the health care sector that would produce a windfall of taxes to state coffers over seven years. Specifically, the study found Medicaid expansion in Missouri over seven years would: 

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In The Know: Secretary of State Glenn Coffee plans to resign

by | December 10th, 2012 | 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 Secretary of State Glenn Coffee announced that he is stepping down to pursue an opportunity in the private sector. Gov. Mary Fallin and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said the state budget and a possible tax cut hinge largely on whether Congress is able to avert the looming fiscal cliff. Tulsa-area lawmakers said common education will be a priority in the upcoming legislative session, and there likely will be an increase in state aid in the new budget. The lawmakers cited a report showing that per pupil expenditures in Oklahoma public schools have dropped more than 20 percent since 2008. 

The okeducationtruths blog examined how poverty affected schools’ ranking on the new A-F report cards. Math, science, social studies and history teachers will infuse their teaching with reading and writing instruction as part of Oklahoma’s move to Common Core Standards in 2014. University of Oklahoma President David Boren said he hopes lawmakers will restore $100 million in funding to higher education, half of what has been cut since 2009.

Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision to reject federal money to expand Oklahoma’s Medicaid program has led a member of the Oklahoma State Board of Health to resign. Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, wrote that the Governor’s decision ignores the predicament of many hard-working Oklahomans in low wage jobs. The Tulsa World wrote that the debate of the Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma is not over.

Officials with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation refuse to release records that every other law enforcement agency in the state is required to make public. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is seeking a law to force private prison companies to provide information concerning “a riot, escape or other serious emergency and facility operations upon request of Oklahoma DOC.” In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog reports that more than half of the states have made decision on whether to join the Medicaid expansion, and twice as many states have said yes than have declined.

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The Weekly Wonk: December 7, 2012

by | December 7th, 2012 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week Oklahoma Policy Institute discussed how the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could give more than 9,000 young Oklahoma immigrants a shot at the American Dream.  We blogged about expanding access to microcredit, and how it empowers companies employing 5 or fewer workers, which make up 88 percent of Oklahoma’s businesses.

A guest blogger reviewed a new report from ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and Arthur Laffer and detailed how their recommendations would fail to produce prosperity in the states.  The OK Policy Blog revealed why rising inequality is bad for business.  

Our director David Blatt explained in his Journal Record column why persistent and widening economic inequality erodes the quality of life in Oklahoma.  Policy Analyst Kate Richey was quoted in an Urban Tulsa Weekly article about how the state’s recently enacted affirmative action ban might affect city contracting. 

Policy Notes

Numbers of the Day

  • 5,696 – Number of state and federal prisoners in Oklahoma being held in private prison facilities, 21.8 percent of all the state’s prisoners
  • 77 – The number of occupational fatalities in Oklahoma in 2011
  • 15 percent – Percentage of Oklahoma’s public school funding (K-12) that comes from the federal government, 13th highest among the states in 2010-2011
  • $426,125,520 – The costs to Oklahoma in 2012 of the ongoing drought, including crops and livestock losses, wildfire damage and municipal costs
  • 23 – Number of states that have prohibited (15) or tightly restricted (8) payday lending, 2012