In The Know: July 25, 2011

by | July 25th, 2011 | 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, The Tulsa World reports on the huge impact of federal spending in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Watch examines special visas that allow guest workers into the U.S., and finds that few employers are cited for hiring undocumented immigrants even as deportations have skyrocketed.

Extreme weather is taking a financial toll on Oklahoma insurance companies. Gov. Fallin will participate in an online town hall on the Oklahoma Republican Party’s Facebook page. The Cherokee Nation elected S. Joe Crittenden as the new deputy chief. Next year Oklahoma will begin the process to make county court records uniformly accessible online.

The OkieWomen blog highlights some organizations that are working to prepare women for leadership in public policy. The OK Policy Blog previews an upcoming Suicide Prevention Conference in Tulsa. An Oklahoma mother shares how DHS child-care subsidy cuts are affecting her family.

In today’s Policy Note, the Economix blog shows how corporate tax loopholes provide significant benefits to shareholders, at considerable cost to everyone else. Today’s Number of the Day is the temperature in Tipton Oklahoma on June 27, 1994, the state’s highest recorded temperature to date.

continue reading In The Know: July 25, 2011

The Weekly Wonk – July 22, 2011

by | July 22nd, 2011 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | 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 at OK Policy, we blogged about why Medicaid matters for those who may be too poor or too unhealthy to buy coverage in the commercial insurance market.  A path-breaking new study found that Medicaid was crucial to the health and economic security of covered families.  CapitolBeatOK quoted OK Policy analyst Kate Richey about the state’s systemic shortage of primary care providers, a problem that will become increasingly evident as the new health reform law expands Medicaid coverage and prompts thousands in the state to buy private insurance.

continue reading The Weekly Wonk – July 22, 2011

Upcoming Event: 2011 Suicide Prevention Conference, July 29

by | July 22nd, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Upcoming Events | Comments (1)

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will host their 2011 Suicide Prevention Conference on Friday, July 29th at the Doubletree Hotel in Tulsa.  The conference will provide participants with suicide prevention training, intervention skills and knowledge. In addressing the complexity of suicide in our communities, emphasis will also be placed on building resources for professionals and families.

continue reading Upcoming Event: 2011 Suicide Prevention Conference, July 29

In The Know: July 22, 2011

by | July 22nd, 2011 | 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, dealing with the heat is straining the budgets of low-income families and non-profits that shelter the homeless. The heat is adding to the importance of summer feeding sites for low-income children. Forecasters expect the heat wave to continue throughout the summer.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi says she won’t back a supplemental appropriations request being considered by the CareerTech Board. The Cherokee Supreme Court invalidated the contested principal chief vote and ordered a new election. Sen. David Holt plans to revive a bill to change binding arbitration for disputes between cities and their employees. The measure passed the Senate but was not brought up in the House last session due to lack of support.

Transportation Secretary Gary Ridley said a major cut in federal road funds could delay completion of an I-44 project in Tulsa and result in additional traffic deaths. The Tulsa area Regional Transit Plan released yesterday is putting emphasis on improving the bus system. The OK Policy Blog assesses the pros and cons of managed competition. Kurt Hochenauer argues that Oklahoma gets no advantage from being a low wage state. M. Scott Carter wonders whether Rep. Dank’s attempt to rein in tax credits will be more successful than previous efforts.

In today’s Policy Note, the Associated Press examines how some of the states hardest hit by the heat wave have drastically cut or entirely eliminated programs that help poor people pay their electric bills, forcing thousands to go without air conditioning. Today’s Number of the Day is the amount allocated by the health care reform law for programs that address shortages of primary care providers.

continue reading In The Know: July 22, 2011

The pros and cons of managed competition

by | July 21st, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (3)

This post is by Courtney Baker, a summer intern with Oklahoma Policy Institute. Courtney is a senior at Oklahoma State University majoring in political science.

In June, government workers at Tulsa’s city hall successfully fought to keep their jobs in a process called managed competition. Unlike typical privatization, managed competition allows government employees to bid against private sector firms.

The city of Tulsa had previously sponsored a report by the consulting firm KPMG to review all city services and look for ways to improve efficiency. In total, KPMG listed 298 city services that might benefit from managed competition.

The report suggests that the Department of Public Works has the most opportunities for managed competition, with tasks including street maintenance services, building operations services and golf course administration. The report states that through competitive bidding of these tasks, the city could potentially generate revenue and fund capital assets replacements.

continue reading The pros and cons of managed competition

In The Know: July 21, 2011

by | July 21st, 2011 | 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, heat has been blamed for as many as 12 deaths in Oklahoma, and Gov. Fallin declared a state of emergency in all Oklahoma counties due to the heat. Lack of air conditioning in many Oklahoma prisons is creating a health risk for inmates. Drew Edmondson will chair a commission to re-examine cases where DNA tests have been used to clear convicted murderers.

OKC Councilman Ed Shadid is raising questions about whether implementation of the MAPS 3 convention center will have costs that voters weren’t told about. The OK Policy Blog discusses a new study showing large benefits for Medicaid recipients in health outcomes and financial stability. Oklahoma officials saying a failure to raise the federal debt limit could result in chilling Oklahomans’ access to health care and exploding borrowing rates.

OU’s move to reduce the number of licenses for OU branded goods is coming under fire for possibly violating antitrust laws. A bill to allow the Cherokee Nation to operate its own power plant passed unanimously through a House committee. A draft of the 25-year regional transit plan for the Tulsa area calls for improvements in the region’s bus system.

In today’s Policy Note, Miller-McCune examines how state cuts to Medicaid are endangering community health clinics that provide primary care to 23 million Americans, a third of them children. Today’s Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s rank nationally for watermelon production in 2010; watermelon is also the state’s official vegetable. Read on for more.

continue reading In The Know: July 21, 2011

Medicaid Matters: New study finds coverage boosts health outcomes and financial security

by | July 20th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (2)

As states and Washington grapple with ongoing budget shortfalls, the Medicaid program is often in the crosshairs of those calling for major reductions in government spending. But while the costs of funding Medicaid are readily apparent, we should not forget the program’s crucial role in providing health care for those who may be too poor or too unhealthy to buy coverage in the commercial insurance market. Recently, a path-breaking new study reported that when those without health insurance are enrolled in Medicaid, they see wide-ranging benefits in terms of access to health care services, better physical and mental health, and financial stability. These findings should assume great importance in ongoing state and federal debates on Medicaid and health care reform.

Medicaid is the primary source of health insurance for low-income children, pregnant women, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. The federal-state program covers 47 million Americans, or just under one in five of all those with health insurance coverage (2009). In Oklahoma, 728,594 persons are covered by Medicaid as of May 2011; the majority (63 percent) are low-income children. Medicaid is administered by the states with the federal government assuming a majority share of the costs.

continue reading Medicaid Matters: New study finds coverage boosts health outcomes and financial security

In The Know: July 20, 2011

by | July 20th, 2011 | 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, some lawmakers and educators are asking whether Superintendent Barresi has been given too much power. The Department of Corrections asked the parole board to include fewer stipulations requiring paroled inmates to complete education or rehabilitation programs before their release, in part because budget cuts have drastically reduced the number of available spots in these programs. With new leadership and total turnover in faculty, Gilcrease Elementary is undertaking some of the most dramatic reforms in Tulsa Public Schools.

Wages are up from the previous year in Oklahoma City but still lag behind national averages in 18 out of 22 major occupations. The OKC Council approved an expanded plan for the new streetcar system that will allow the city to pursue federal matching funds. A federal judge ruled that tribal sovereignty prevents the National Labor Relations Board from ruling on complaints that the Chickasaw Nation threatened casino employees who were trying to organize a union.

CapitolBeatOK spoke with OK Policy about a new report that identifies Oklahoma as one of eight states facing a serious shortage of primary care physicians. Sen. James Inhofe is criticizing fellow Republicans for an earmark ban that threatens development projects on the Arkansas River. State Sen. Jim Wilson argues in a NewsOK op-ed that the State Senate redistricting plan is unconstitutional. The OK Policy Blog features a video with a round-table discussion on the practice of Islam in Oklahoma.

In today’s Policy Note, USA Today looks at efforts within states to right wrongful convictions. If a proposed law passes in Massachusetts to establish a right to post-conviction DNA testing, Oklahoma will be the only state that does not have a law in this area. Today’s Number of the Day is the percentage of persons killed in motorcycle crashes each year in Oklahoma who are not wearing a helmet.

continue reading In The Know: July 20, 2011

Watch This: What is sharia law?

by | July 19th, 2011 | Posted in Blog, Watch This | Comments (2)

Oklahoma gained national attention last year with the passage of SQ 755, a ballot measure that amends the state constitution by preemptively barring state courts from considering ‘sharia law.’  Sharia literally means “path” in Arabic, and refers loosely to an evolving set of standards derived from religious texts, teachings, and community consensus that govern Islamic life.  A federal judge has temporarily stopped the measure from going into effect pending the results of court challenges.  Opponents of the sharia law ban cite the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, that government should “make no law respecting the establishment of religion.”

continue reading Watch This: What is sharia law?

In The Know: July 19, 2011

by | July 19th, 2011 | 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today on In The Know, Gov. Fallin said she opposes using part of the Rainy Day Fund deposit to fully fund teacher health benefits. The OK Policy Blog gives a quick overview of how the Rainy Day Fund works and shows how we’ve designed it to depend on poor economic forecasting. The heat wave is doing damage to Oklahoma’s infrastructure, including a ruptured water main that shut down the Capitol yesterday and buckling roads and highways across the state. The Associated Press reports on how the heat hits hardest in the nation’s poorest communities, including in Oklahoma.

The OKC School Board is scrutinizing private after-school tutoring programs that receive state money after accusations emerged that companies may have charged the district for students that never received tutoring. More school districts are cutting teacher positions to cope with budget cuts. The tax credit task force is looking critically at the insurance premium tax credit that reimburses insurances companies for supplying a backup fund in case they go bankrupt and can’t meet claims.

The purchase of a downtown building by UCO could prohibit the opening of any new bars or clubs in half of Bricktown unless a law is changed. In today’s Policy Note, the AARP finds that overwhelmed family caregivers provided the equivalent of $450 billion worth of care to their adult parents and other loved ones in 2009. Today’s Number of the Day is the amount the legislature cut appropriations to the Department of Education for this fiscal year compared to FY ’11.

Read on for more.

continue reading In The Know: July 19, 2011