Skip to Content

Registration is open for the Fall Policy Boot Camp. Click here to learn more and register.

In The Know: Planned education rally angers lawmakers

by | February 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that two state lawmakers chastised Oklahoma school districts that have chosen to give teachers and students a day off so they can rally for more education funding at the Capitol. The okeducationtruths blog compiled responses from educators and parents defending the rally. DREAM Act Oklahoma launched a social media campaign against KOTV over a news segment that portrayed the undocumented and Hispanic community as drug cartels.

Longtime friends Rep. Jeff Hickman and Rep. Mike Jackson will face off today in an election for a new Speaker of the House. Though she has not opposed them, Governor Fallin left out any mention of the American Indian Cultural Center and the Tulsa POP Museum from her State of the State speech and proposed budget. Lawmakers are still divided over how to fix the crumbling Capitol building.

On the OK Policy Blog, JeVonna Caine explained why Oklahoma is losing federal Medicaid funding even though the need is rising. Governor Fallin declared a state of emergency after cracks were discovered in the bridge between Lexington and Purcell. With the bridge closed, these cities are now separated by a 45-minute commute despite being less than a mile apart.

University of Tulsa economist Scott Carter explained why increasing the minimum wage is sound economics. The Oklahoman editorial board took issue with OK Policy for explaining how Governor Fallin’s proposed tax cut would affect Oklahomans at different income levels. Tulsa pastor Anthony Scott wrote that the United States should make a stronger commitment to urban education.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of nursing home bed days in Oklahoma that were funded by Soonercare in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, the Wall Street Journal shares stories of Americans trapped in a coverage gap in states refusing federal funds to expand Medicaid.

Continue Reading »

Weekly Wonk February 9, 2014

by | February 9th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, 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. 

 As the state legislature returned to session, OK Policy had some suggestions for the agenda. We released a statement in response to the Governor’s budget proposal, and OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt discussed why her budget doesn’t add up. You can review our 2014 Legislative Primer here.

On the OK Policy blog, Blatt shared the story of an Oklahoma entrepreneur who was able to purchase health insurance for the first time in nearly two decades thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Policy analyst Carly Putnam argued that the Affordable Care Act is, in fact, affordable. In a guest post, OK Policy Research Fellow JeVonna Caine explained why Oklahoma is seeing a drop in federal Medicaid funding.  

In his Journal Record column, Blatt reiterated the necessity of curbing tax breaks for horizontal oil and gas drilling. OK Policy’s opposition to the tax breaks was noted by KGOU, and Oklahoma Watchdog quoted Blatt on the topic.  We’ve written about the tax breaks before. KGOU also cited Blatt’s concerns about the budget shortfall, as did the Norman Transcript and Woodward News

Numbers of the Day

  • 43 cents – The portion of each dollar the state of Oklahoma spent in FY 2011 that came from federal funds, the 7th highest percentage in the nation
  • $1.3 million – How much Oklahoma spent on psychiatric medications for prison inmates in 2013
  • 42,100 – Number of people employed by Indian Tribes in Oklahoma
  • $47.7 million  – How much Governor Fallin’s FY 2015 budget proposal would cut Medicaid, slightly more than the revenue loss from her proposed tax cut for top earners ($47.4 million)
  • $13.6 billion – The lowball forecast of the ten-year net fiscal impact to the state were Oklahoma to expand Medicaid

 Policy Notes

Why Oklahoma is losing Medicaid funding (Guest post: JeVonna Caine)

by | February 7th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Healthcare | Comments (0)

JeVonna_CaineJeVonna Caine,one of OK Policy’s 2013-14 Research Fellows,  is pursuing a Masters of Public Health in Health Administration and Policy from the OU Health Sciences Center, while also working at the State Department of Health in the Health Planning & Grants department. She has an extensive background in community health education and research with previous positions at Georgetown University and Youth Services of Tulsa.

With the state already facing a budget shortfall, Oklahoma lawmakers got unwelcome news last November, when they found out Oklahoma’s Medicaid program will need an additional $150 million just to continue current services. The extra costs are due to an expected increase in the number of Oklahomans eligible for Medicaid and a $56 million drop in federal funds coming to the state Medicaid program, Soonercare.

The reduction in federal funds is happening because of some otherwise good news — an increase in Oklahoma’s per capita income. The federal match for programs such as Medicaid, CHIP and TANF is calculated using a Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) formula. This formula assesses each state’s economy relative to the country as a whole and provides a smaller federal share for states with rising income.

So why is the need for Soonercare increasing even as our incomes are rising?

Continue Reading »

In the Know: Oklahoma second highest in the nation for tornadoes in 2013

by | February 7th, 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.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that Oklahoma’s 79 tornadoes in 2013 placed second only to Texas (81 tornadoes) in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) annual count. The federal government has released an additional $4 million to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to help low-income families buy propane. A bill that would abolish the state Board of Corrections was approved by a committee and will advance to the House for a vote.

Rep. David Dank released a plan to tie Oklahoma’s gross production tax rate to the number of Oklahomans each oil and gas company employs. On the OK Policy blog, we explained how Oklahomans are helping to pay for the Affordable Care Act even as state politicians block Oklahomans from receiving the benefits.

Sen. Jim Inhofe was named the fifth-most conservative US Senator by the National Journal. The Oklahoma Tax Commission shared how Governor Fallin’s proposed tax cut would affect Oklahomans at different income levels. OK Policy previously showed that cutting the top rate to 5 percent would do nothing for 41 percent of Oklahomans, provide an average of $30 for middle income taxpayers, and an average of $2,031 for the wealthiest 1 percent.

The Number of the Day is the lowball forecast of the ten-year net fiscal benefit to the state were Oklahoma to expand Medicaid. In today’s Policy Note, Kaiser Health News details new legislation introduced to Congress that would overhaul the way Medicare pays physicians.

Continue Reading »

Affordable Care Act is affordable

by | February 6th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (0)

affordable-healthSince it was signed into law almost four years ago, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as the Affordable Care Act, the ACA, or Obamacare), has been a prime target for political spin and misinformation through three national elections, a Supreme Court Challenge and fifty attempts by the House of Representatives to repeal the law. It is thus no surprise that many Americans are confused about what the ACA actually does.

One oft-repeated fallacy has been that the ACA would add to the deficit. When rejecting the federal Medicaid dollars for Oklahomans, Governor Fallin cited “the nation’s growing deficit crisis” and predicted that the federal money may not be available in the future. She reiterated the claim during her 2014 State of the State address, arguing that Medicaid expansion is “unaffordable” and “unsustainable.”

This claim makes a glaring omission — the fact that all of the increased spending by the Affordable Care Act is paid for, and then some. The law includes a combination of spending cuts and tax increases that, on net, are in fact reducing the deficit by billions of dollars.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Fallin plan would cut doctor rates, medical services for the poor

by | February 6th, 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that Governor Mary Fallin’s plan to cut state funding for Medicaid is expected to result in fewer benefits and lower reimbursement rates to doctors that serve the poor. KGOU examined the repercussions of the Governor’s call for 5 percent cuts to most state agencies. On the OK Policy Blog, we provided an in-depth analysis of the Governor’s budget, and David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed a fairer way to balance the budget by reigning in unnecessary tax breaks.

 Oklahoma counties are pushing for a new severance tax on gravel mining to help mitigate the damage to public roads and the environment caused by the mines. The parents of two Moore schoolchildren killed in the May tornadoes are suing Governor Fallin over the governor’s failure to release records about safety precautions in schools. 

Democratic lawmakers called for tapping Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund to help Oklahomans struggling to pay for propane in the recent cold snap. Abortion rates fell in Oklahoma and across the nation due to increased use of contraceptives. Four candidates have filed to run for mayor in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma’s House of Representatives will vote on Monday to elect a new speaker.

The Number of the Day is how much Governor Fallin’s FY 2015 budget proposal would cut Medicaid, slightly more than the revenue loss from her proposed tax cut for top earners. In today’s Policy Note, E.J. Dionne explains why latest controversy about Obamacare’s effect on jobs is based on a dishonest reading of Congressional Budget Office findings.

Continue Reading »

The Governor’s Budget In-Depth: Budget cuts plus tax cuts don’t add up

by | February 5th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Education, Healthcare, Taxes | Comments (0)

With state agencies and schools still struggling to climb out  of deep budget holes from the last recession, Governor Mary Fallin’s FY 2015 Executive Budget proposes even deeper cuts that could seriously harm our families and our economy.

With initial estimates showing $170 million less available for the FY 2015 budget, it was clear that the Governor faced hard choices. Under her proposed budget, total FY 2015 appropriations would be $7.022 billion. This is $137 million, or 1.9 percent, less than the FY 2014 budget. Excluding $45 million in last year’s budget from the Rainy Day Fund for disaster relief following the Moore tornado, the FY 2015 budget would be $92 million, or 1.3 percent less.

FY06-FY05Exec

Continue Reading »

In The Know: T.W. Shannon steps down as House Speaker

by | February 5th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (3)

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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that T.W. Shannon has resigned as House Speaker to run for U.S. Senate. Representatives Mike Jackson, Jeff Hickman, and Jason Nelson have been lobbying to replace him. Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, announced his candidacy for governor. The Oklahoma City Council discussed redrawing council districts and increasing the number of seats to improve representation.

Oklahoma ranked last out of all fifty states for long-term budget planning, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. You can see the full report here and the Oklahoma fact sheet here. The OK Policy Blog shared how the Affordable Care has helped self-employed businesswoman in Oklahoma become insured for the first time in 18 years.

State education officials said if too many parents opt their children out of high-stakes testing, schools could receive an automatic F on the A-F grading system. The Oklahoma City school board is considering turning Edgemere Elementary into a community school, with additional support for students and their parents including health care, before and after school programs, and early childhood learning. Extending the community schools model is one of OK Policy’s proposed Action Items for Education.

The Number of the Day is how many people are employed by Indian Tribes in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog discussed a report showing that state pension obligations cost less than tax breaks to corporations in many states. In Oklahoma, Good Jobs First calculated that annual state pension costs were less than half the cost of seven corporate tax breaks.

Continue Reading »

18 years uninsured, but no more

by | February 4th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (0)

health isurance-stethoscopeBeth is a home renovator and woodworker who lives north of Edmond. For the last 18 years, she has operated her own small business. For 18 years, she also went without health insurance. This finally changed January 1st, when the Affordable Care Act took effect and Beth became one of the first 15,000 Oklahomans who gained coverage through the new health insurance marketplaces.

Beth’s story is similar to that of many self-employed small businesspeople.  In the mid-1990s, Beth left her job with a large company to start her own business. Initially, she was able to  purchase health insurance through a national association serving the self-employed. She was offered a great introductory rate, but six months later, her premium got hiked and the plan became unaffordable, so she dropped her coverage. She shopped the individual insurance market over the years, but was never able to find an affordable plan, even though she didn’t have any pre-existing conditions.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Governor Fallin suggests more tax cuts, budget reductions

by | February 4th, 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.

Download today’s In The Know podcasts here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that Governor Mary Fallin proposed a state budget that would cut most state agencies by 5 percent while lowering the state income tax. Oklahoma Policy Institute released a statement that Governor Fallin’s budget would make a bad situation worse. NewsOK discussed the budget’s winners and losers. You can see the Governor’s budget here.

Oklahoma higher education leaders criticized the budget for slashing higher education by nearly $50 million while cutting income taxes. For the past few years, more 18- to 19-year-old women in Oklahoma gave birth than entered the state’s three largest universities. Primary challenger Joy Hofmeister criticized State Superintendent Janet Barresi for loaning more than $1 million to her two election campaigns.

The Tulsa school board voted to cancel classes on March 31st to encourage teachers, parents and students to rally for increased education funding at the Capitol. The okeducationtruths blog shared a letter to lawmakers on the top three priorities for Oklahoma education advocates. The OK Policy Blog laid out what a responsible legislative agenda for Oklahoma might look like this year.

A month after recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado, the flood of marijuana that law enforcement predicted would come across the border doesn’t appear to have materialized. Oklahomans can be sent to prison for up to 10 years for possessing small amounts of marijuana. A Custer County family is disputing the Sheriff’s Office’s account of their son’s death. The family called 911 out of concern that the 18-year-old would hurt himself, and sheriff’s deputies ended up shooting him seven times.

The Number of the Day is how much Oklahoma spent on psychiatric medications for prison inmates in 2013. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times reports that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking, as the top tier pulls even further away.

Continue Reading »