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Graph of the Day: Corrections staffing way down while inmate population rises

by | January 14th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Criminal Justice | Comments (0)

Today’s Graph of the Day shows that the number of correctional officers staffing Oklahoma prisons has fallen by 24.5 percent since 2000 and by 20 percent just in the past five years, while the number of inmates continues to rise.

inmates-and-officers 

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In The Know: ACA sign-ups in Oklahoma reach 14,999

by | January 14th, 2014 | Posted in 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 about 15,000 Oklahomans have signed up for private health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchange, and another 6,476 Oklahoma applicants were found eligible for Medicaid. Oklahoma City’s interim public schools chief said he plans to fire several high-ranking administrators as early as this week. A federal report found that Oklahoma’s Mabel Bassett Correctional Center had the highest rate of sexual abuse or rape in the nation for female institutions.

The OK Policy Blog discussed how Oklahoma’s gas tax has not been adjusted for inflation in nearly three decades. County Commissioners are pushing for a tax on gravel mining, which they say is tearing up county roads and mostly being sold out-of-state. The Oklahoma State Regents’ are seeking a $76 million boost in appropriations for degree completion efforts. You can see a presentation on the Regents’ plan here.

A state senator has filed proposed legislation that would let the public vote to abolish the Oklahoma House. Oklahoma has seen a decrease in the number of residents developing lung cancer. The Number of the Day is the share of Oklahoma’s TANF or ‘welfare’ budget spent on child care assistance. In today’s Policy Note, a major new report from the Shriver Center assesses the financial vulnerability of women in America.

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Oklahoma’s gas tax needs a tune-up

by | January 13th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (1)
Photo by David B. Gleason used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo by David B. Gleason used under a Creative Commons license.

In 1987, the median family made $21,691. Today they make more than twice as much. In 1987, the average gas price was $1 a gallon; today it is nearly $3. In that year, the Oklahoma Gazette voted Remington Park Race Track as the best “Evidence That OKC Is Coming Alive” and Liberty Tower (now Chase Tower) as the “Downtown Skyscraper.” Today we have the OKC Thunder, and the Devon Energy Center tops Chase Tower by more than 300 feet.

In 1987, the state gas tax was set at 17 cents per gallon. Today, it is… 17 cents per gallon.

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In The Know: Republican leaders split on continuing tax cuts amid budget shortfall

by | January 13th, 2014 | Posted in 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 state Republican leaders are split over continuing tax cuts amid an expected $170 million budget shortfall, and Governor Fallin said House Speaker T.W. Shannon’s push to make permanent a tax exemption for the oil and gas industry was a “non-starter.” On the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson declaration of a “War on Poverty”, Oklahoma Watch shared a portrait of poverty in Oklahoma. OK Policy’s Gene Perry debated the legacy of the War on Poverty with OCPA’s Tina Korbe Dzurisin.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber board of directors unveiled its 2014 legislative agenda, including more workers’ compensation reform, accepting federal funds for expanding Insure Oklahoma, and fully implementing Common Core standards. You can see the full agenda here

The federal health insurance marketplace has identified almost 2,800 Oklahomans as eligible for Medicaid, but it’s unknown whether any of them have signed up. Enid Superintendent Shawn Hime is leaving the district to become executive director of Oklahoma State School Board Association. Kansans are concerned that growing momentum for passenger rail between Oklahoma City and Tulsa will leave out Wichita.

The Tulsa World’s Julie Delcour writes that Tulsa’s juvenile justice facility has become a “Dickensian dump.” Despite DHS efforts to protect children in its custody, four died in 2013 from neglect or abuse. Editorials in both the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman argue that lawmakers need to show more courage and sense in reforming criminal justice in Oklahoma. A non-profit that helps ex-felons get jobs is expanding its efforts to Oklahoma City.

The Number of the Day is how many pedestrians and bicyclists were involved in crashes with automobiles in 2012 in Oklahoma’s cities. In today’s Policy Note, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shares research showing that safety net programs that have helped reduce child poverty in the short term are also opening doors of opportunity for those children in the long run.

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Weekly Wonk January 12, 2014

by | January 12th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy, Weekly Wonk | 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 Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

While tickets to our state budget summit on Thursday, January 16 have sold out, limited spaces are still open for that afternoon’s Advocacy Training session! Together Oklahoma will share its top three priorities for the coming session and participants will engage in a hands-on workshop focused on mobilizing for fair and adequate funding of public services. Cost for the Advocacy Training is $10. You can click here to reserve your place. 

On the OK Policy Blog, Executive Director David Blatt discussed how forecasted revenue shortfalls will lead to difficult choices. He also noted that horizontal drilling tax breaks have now topped $300 million. Blatt was quoted on the topic in the Tulsa World and StateImpact. We’ve made the case for curbing those tax breaks before. We argued that claims that the Affordable Care Act is killing jobs are over-hyped and ignore that the law is good for business.  A guest post in our Neglected Oklahoma series examined the plight of fast-food workers. Other posts in the series can be found here.

In Oklahoma Watch, Policy Director Gene Perry argued that we must stay committed to the War on Poverty. Blatt wrote in his Journal Record column that there seem to be only two kinds of years at the Oklahoma Capitol — budget shortfall years and tax cut years – and that neither likely involves a needed discussion of funding vital public services. 

Numbers of the Day

  • 10,833 – The number of foreclosures completed in Oklahoma in the last twelve months, up 18.6% from 9,132 foreclosures during the same period last year
  • 22.6 percent – The poverty rate in Southeast Oklahoma, where President Obama is creating a “Promise Zone” in partnership with the Choctaw Nation to focus resources on improving life in chronically poor areas
  • $170 million – How much less is expected to be available for state appropriations in FY 2015 compared to FY 2014
  • 2,350 – Decrease in the number of jobs in Oklahoma over the past 12 months
  • 6th – Oklahoma’s rank nationally for wheat exports; the state grew and exported over 400 million dollars worth of wheat in 2012
 
Policy Notes 
 
  • Moyers & Company has compiled Inequality: An Essential Reader.
  • Examining the impact of food snap benefits on the health of recipients, The Incidental Economist notes that health policy isn’t always about healthcare.
  • The Center for  American Progress has a report examining fifty years of the War on Poverty.
  • Theda Skocpol finds that the Affordable Care Act is working well where state-level officials are pitching in to help – and lagging where they are engaged in obstruction.
  • The Economic Policy Institute discusses the impact of 4.5 million workers receiving higher pay this year due to rising minimum wages in thirteen states.

In The Know: Corrections looking to add thousands of private prison beds

by | January 10th, 2014 | Posted in 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 Department of Corrections will draw up a request for proposals from private prison companies to provide up to 2,000 additional beds for state inmates.  Oklahoma’s Medicaid program had the lowest payment error rate among 17 states.

Oklahoma Policy Institute calculated that tax breaks for horizontal drilling and other oil and gas production are projected to cost the state over $300 million this fiscal year and next.  Profitable oil and gas wells in Oklahoma are subsidized by taxpayers more than the Agriculture Dept., Commerce Dept., Corporation Commission, Health Dept., Tax Commission, Arts Council, Veterans Affairs, OETA, Military Dept., and the State Bureau of Investigations combined.  

A nonprofit advocacy group recommended that Oklahoma’s flat per-gallon fuel tax be converted to a percentage tax on the wholesale price as a way to increase revenue for transportation infrastructure.

A Tulsa World editorial explored the difficult and expensive task of finding and retaining good public school teachers.  Three train trips from the Tulsa area to Oklahoma City on Iowa Pacific’s Eastern Flyer, the first passenger train offered on the stretch in 47 years, have sold out

In today’s Policy Note, Moyers & Company compiled a primer of the best data and ideas on inequality in America, why it matters, and how to fix it.  The Number of the Day is the number of foreclosures completed in Oklahoma in the last twelve months.

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Oklahoma’s oil and gas tax breaks top $300 million

by | January 9th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

oil as moneyTax breaks for horizontal drilling and other forms of oil and gas production are projected to cost the state over $300 million this fiscal year and next, according to new calculations by Oklahoma Policy Institute. This does not  include the $118 million annual cost of paying out deferred credits over the next two years.

The cost of oil and gas tax breaks is calculated from revenue estimates prepared in December by the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC) that became part of the State Board of Equalization’s December certification.  The OTC provided estimates and forecasts of oil and gas revenues for FY 2014 and FY 2015 that allowed the cost of tax breaks for horizontal and deep well production to be calculated.

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In The Know: Oklahoma gets ‘D’ for K-12 achievement, school funding

by | January 9th, 2014 | Posted in 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 latest Quality Counts report by Education Week gives Oklahoma a D grade for K-12 achievement and school finance, despite being ranked at or near the top for standards, assessments and accountability. You can read the full report here. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses how Oklahoma is fluctuating between tax cut years and budget cut years at the state Capitol. The OK Policy Blog shared stories of Oklahomans trying to support a family with a low-wage fast-food job.

The state has signed a new deal with the Comanche Nation on its tax rate on tobacco sales, after the tribe filed a lawsuit over other tribes receiving more favorable terms. The Norman Transcript looked at the history of liquor by-the-drink in Oklahoma. An advocacy group is calling for the resignation of seven high ranking state officials, including DHS director Ed Lake and state health commissioner Terry Cline, over accusations that the state is failing to protect nursing home residents.

The Oklahoma City council is exploring the idea of increasing its members by adding more wards. State Senator Nathan Dahm filed a bill aimed at blocking the NSA from gathering information about Oklahomans. Rep. Sally Kern filed a bill to make it illegal for an Oklahoma school official to punish a student for brandishing a toy weapon.

The Number of the Day is the poverty rate in Southeast Oklahoma, where President Obama is creating a “Promise Zone”, in partnership with the Choctaw Nation, to focus resources on improving life in chronically poor areas. In today’s Policy Note, a new study shows low-income families have higher incidents of dangerously low blood-sugar at the end of the month, when the food budget runs out.

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Do you want fries with that? (Guest Post: Camille Landry)

camille_landryCamille Landry is a writer, activist, and social justice advocate who lives in Oklahoma City.  This post is part of our “Neglected Oklahoma” series, which tells the stories of Oklahomans in situations where the basic necessities of life are hard to come by.  These are real people and their stories are true (names have been changed to protect privacy).

We huddled over drinks in the corner of the restaurant, our voices low so the manager or his coworkers couldn’t hear us. He introduced me to coworkers as his cousin. “Talking bad about this place will get you fired quick!”

He talked fast because he gets only 30 minutes for lunch, on days when he works at least 6 hours — and a 15-minute break if he works less than that). He tells me he is 37. He has a 6-year-old son and an 18-month-old daughter. His wife works at a mall and attends school. “People think everybody who works here is a kid, but most of us are grown with kids,” he tells me.  “Several people are retired – just trying to make ends meet.”

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In The Know: Choctaw Nation picked to lead new anti-poverty effort

by | January 8th, 2014 | 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 Obama administration has picked the Choctaw Nation as one of the first five organizations to test a new anti-poverty program for chronically poor areas. Twenty Republican lawmakers announced they are supporting Joy Hofmeister’s primary challenge to superintendent Janet Barresi. NewsOK reported on Governor Fallin’s efforts to more closely link education and workforce training. A NewsOK op-ed argues that the United States education reform debate is missing the bigger picture.

The OK Policy Blog discusses how declining revenues mean lawmakers will struggle to balance the state budget this year, even if they don’t pass additional tax cuts. State Treasurer Ken Miller said it might be time for Oklahoma to review the state’s tax break for horizontal drilling. The Tulsa World wrote that the tax break is unaffordable when Oklahoma is not meeting its fundamental moral obligations to educate children and hold prisoners safely.

An OU student activist who is facing potential “terrorism hoax” charges for hanging a banner at the Devon Tower released a statement about what happened. An Arkansas woman whose special-needs brother died in Oklahoma delivered a petition to Governor Fallin with 460,000 signatures expressing “outrage at the dysfunction” of the state’s child welfare system.

A report by The Population Institute gave Oklahoma gets a D- for reproductive health. Governor Fallin’s tribal liason released an annual on her negotiations with tribes. You can see the full report here. The Number of the Day is how much less is expected to be available for state appropriations in FY 2015 compared to FY 2014. In today’s Policy Note, the Center for American Progress assesses how America has changed 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson declared a War on Poverty.

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