Skip to Content

In The Know: Oklahoma Medicaid agency seeks $200 million funding boost

by | January 11th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Remember: OK Policy’s 4th Annual State Budget Summit will be held on Thursday, January 26th in Oklahoma City. Click here for the full program or here to go directly to the registration page to purchase tickets. Click here to apply for a scholarship. 

Today In The News

Oklahoma Medicaid agency seeks $200 million funding boost: The agency that oversees Medicaid in Oklahoma is requesting an additional $200 million, mostly to maintain its current level of health care services for low-income residents, the agency’s new leader told state lawmakers on Tuesday. Becky Pasternik-Ikard, the new chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, outlined her agency’s budget during a hearing Tuesday before the House Appropriations and Budget Committee [Associated Press].

DHS budget crisis could leave hundreds without care: The Department of Human Services is begging the state legislature to give them more money to make it to the end of the fiscal year. If they don’t, thousands of people will be left on their own, many children, the elderly or the disabled. Tuesday we met David. He loves cars. And thanks to dedicated therapists, he’s living on his own. “[They’re] no longer stuck away where people can’t see them,” says Sally Allen, Human Resources Manager for Center State Community Service [KTUL].

House investigation of sexual harassment claims expanded to include Fourkiller, chairman announces: A special committee that will look into the settlement of a wrongful termination claim will expand its investigation to examine all sexual harassment complaints filed against sitting lawmakers, including Rep. Will Fourkiller, the panel’s chairman said Tuesday. “I haven’t a clue what this is about,” Fourkiller, D-Stilwell, said. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, asked the House Rules Committee to investigate a sexual harassment and wrongful termination claim against Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa [Tulsa World].

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Oklahoma DHS seeks $42M cash infusion to prevent furloughs, rate cuts

by | January 10th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Remember: OK Policy’s 4th Annual State Budget Summit will be held on Thursday, January 26th in Oklahoma City. Click here for the full program or here to go directly to the registration page to purchase tickets. Click here to apply for a scholarship. 

Today In The News

Oklahoma DHS seeks $42M cash infusion to prevent furloughs, rate cuts: The director of Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services says the agency could be forced to furlough workers or cut provider rates if it doesn’t receive an infusion of more than $42 million before the current fiscal year ends in June. DHS Director Ed Lake presented his agency’s budget request to lawmakers on Monday, urging them to pass a supplemental appropriation bill after they reconvene next month [Associated Press].

Oklahoma revenue slumps two years in a row: Revenue to Oklahoma’s government contracted for the second calendar year in a row, according to figures released by Treasurer Ken Miller. The continued downturn in state receipts is blamed on a less active oil and gas sector, but the treasury has shown positive signs from that industry over the past three months. On Monday, Miller said one silver lining of the data pouring into his office is that December tax collections from energy production rose more than 4 percent over the same month last year [NewsOK].

Answering the call: Oklahoma continues effort to recruit foster parents: Ashley Kehl kept a watchful eye on her foster daughter as the little girl bounded back and forth from her bedroom to the living room, carrying book after book, her small feet pattering against the hardwood floor. As the 2-year-old girl flipped through the pages of a “Wizard of Oz” book, she paused at a picture of the Cowardly Lion [NewsOK].

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Hundreds of Oklahoma state employees get salary increases over $5,000

by | January 9th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (1)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Hundreds of Oklahoma state employees get salary increases over $5,000: Hundreds of state employees got pay increases of $5,000 or more in 2016 even as Oklahoma faced historic budget problems. Information provided by the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services showed 554 increases in this category totaling just over $5 million. The hikes came as appropriations to most state agencies were cut amid a $1.3 billion budget hole created by an oil industry downturn, tax cuts and generous tax credits to industry [NewsOK].

8 key facts about Oklahoma’s budget: “The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations.” This quote by U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is an important starting point when we think about the state budget. Like a family that acts out its values when deciding how much to spend on things like saving for retirement, investing in education and activities for children, or paying for basic needs like food, shelter, and health care, the state of Oklahoma expresses our values through the budget for core public services like education, public health and safety, and infrastructure [Together Oklahoma].

Oklahoma’s education system is in 47th place and falling further behind: While our elected officials have been busy getting grades for schools and school districts, someone else was evaluating the state’s performance, and it’s pretty bad. The annual Quality Counts report card of state education systems puts Oklahoma in 47th place among the 50 states and District of Columbia. By consistent inadequate funding of public schools, the state of Oklahoma isn’t providing the opportunity for its next generation to succeed, and the results are apparent in academic performance and any other legitimate measure of education achievement [Editorial Board / Tulsa World].

Continue Reading »

The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma’s prisons are still on a path to disaster; Six takeaways from Oklahoma’s new budget estimates; & more

by | January 8th, 2017 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler explained how Oklahoma’s prisons are still on a path to disaster. Executive Director David Blatt shared six takeaways from Oklahoma’s new budget estimates. In addition, we shared a statement on December’s revenue certification and what it means for the state budget. 

In his Journal Record columns, Blatt wrote that a “repeal and delay” of the Affordable Care Act would disrupt care for millions, detailed how lawmakers can restore a tax credit that works, and hoped that leadership’s recognition of the state’s revenue problem could prompt meaningful action

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to NewsOK about the possibility of raising the gas tax, and to the Altus Times about options for filling the budget hole. The Tahlequah Daily Press quoted our statement on the December revenue certification, and Think Progress cited OK Policy data in a discussion of state safety net funding and anti-abortion legislation. 

The Oklahoma Gazette profiled Together Oklahoma’s work helping Oklahomans connect with their legislators and advocate effectively, coordinated by OK Policy staffer Kara Joy McKee. You can learn more about Together Oklahoma here. The Tulsa World selected former OK Policy economic opportunity and poverty policy analyst DeVon Douglass, who recently moved into a position as the city’s chief resilience officer, as one of Tulsa’s People to Watch. 

Weekly What’s That

Dual-eligible

The term “dual-eligible” refers to people who are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid at the same time. They usually qualify for Medicare Part A (primarily covers hospital care) and/or Part B (medical insurance; mostly covers doctor’s visits, outpatient procedurse, health care supplies, and preventive care), as well as 1) a Medicare Savings program, or 2) Medicaid benefits. Read more.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“For those who say that we don’t have a revenue problem, I will say this, ‘You don’t have to say it with words because your actions are showing it.’ If you have to use a half a billion dollars every single year in your budget to spend more than your recurring revenues will allow, that shows a revenue problem.”

– State Treasurer Ken Miller, on the revenue shortfall for next year (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Norman Transcript

The state of Oklahoma projects a significant budget deficit. Gov. Mary Fallin’s solution is to increase sales taxes. Sound familiar? We’ve already been through this earlier in 2016, when a looming $1.3 billion budget deficit and failed cigarette tax increase dominated headlines in the first quarter. Now, facing another massive deficit quickly shooting toward $1 billion, Fallin has suggested the cigarette tax again, in addition to eliminating some sales tax exemptions, to fill the gap.

Numbers of the Day

  • 11.2% – Percentage of Oklahomans who have Type 2 Diabetes, 2014
  • 31% – Estimated share of non-elderly Oklahomans with pre-existing conditions for which insurance coverage could be declined under pre-Affordable Care Act health insurance practices, about 706,000 people
  • $560 million – Yearly cost of uncompensated care in all Oklahoma hospitals
  • 19 – Number of women legislators in the upcoming 2017 Oklahoma legislative session. Only Wyoming will have a smaller share of female legislators in 2017 (11 percent, versus Oklahoma’s 13 percent)
  • 56% – Percentage of high school graduates meeting college readiness benchmarks on the ACT and SAT, 2014
  • 31.4% – Percent of Oklahoma adults who reported not participating in any physical activity in the last month in 2012
  • 3rd – Oklahoma’s national rank in heart disease mortality, 2012
  • 46% – Percent of Oklahoma nursing homes that received a 1- or 2-star rating by the Centers for Medicare and MedicaidServices in 2015. The rating scale for nursing homes is 1-5 stars, with 5 being the best and 1 being the worst

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

Is Oklahoma due for a change in direction on the budget? (Capitol Updates)

by | January 6th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Updates, Taxes | Comments (1)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

The turning of a new year is a time when people tend to reflect on the past and look toward the future. I’ve been thinking about the past few legislative sessions and what they mean for the upcoming session. A famous quotation from Shakespeare comes to mind that says “what’s past is prologue.” I’m not strong on interpreting literature, but I suppose this means that what has happened in the past leads to what will happen next. Or said another way, it could mean that the past provides the context for what will happen next. Or it could simply mean we’re in for more of the same.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Why Oklahoma and Other Red States Might Pump Up Gasoline Taxes to Fill Budget Holes

by | January 6th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Why Oklahoma and Other Red States Might Pump Up Gasoline Taxes to Fill Budget Holes: Oklahoma lawmakers are staring into a budget hole that’s nearly $900 million deep — and they might not be able to cut their way out of it. Legislators are considering tax increases to help fund state government, and one idea is gaining traction: Hiking taxes on gasoline and diesel. State taxes on motor fuel haven’t been touched since 1987  [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Another idea worth considering is to adopt a temporary gas tax increase that only stays in effect as long as gas prices are low [OK Policy].

Oklahoma House takes a deep dive into department budgets: This year, the entire Oklahoma House of Representatives is taking on the budget in a new way. For the first six days of the session, the five largest state departments will present their budget proposals to the entire House. Wednesday, the Department of Education started the process with a day-long session dedicated to presentations from State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and her staff in the morning and questions from representatives in the afternoon [Norman Transcript]. State Transportation Department Director Mike Patterson explained his budget needs to a couple dozen representatives in the House chambers [NewsOK].

Oklahoma’s prisons are still on a path to disaster: Even with positive and important criminal justice reforms passing in the Legislature and in the ballot box this year, the Oklahoma prison population is on track to grow by 25 percent – about 7,200 inmates – in the next ten years. Unless we do something to prevent this growth, it will cost nearly $2 billion in new prison construction and operating costs in that time [OK Policy].

Continue Reading »

Oklahoma’s prisons are still on a path to disaster

by | January 5th, 2017 | Posted in Criminal Justice | Comments (1)

Even with positive and important criminal justice reforms passing in the Legislature and in the ballot box this year, the Oklahoma prison population is on track to grow by 25 percent – about 7,200 inmates – in the next ten years. Unless we do something to prevent this growth, it will cost nearly $2 billion in new prison construction and operating costs in that time. Governor Fallin’s Justice Reform Task Force, a group of stakeholders tasked with putting forth proposals to curb that growth, is confronting an incarceration problem that’s among the most severe in the nation and quickly getting worse. 

Those projections come from the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) and the Pew Charitable Trusts, which are providing technical assistance to the Task Force as it develops its proposals. Their analysis of data from the Department of Corrections and Administrative Office of the Courts paints a striking picture of a system that is ever more bent toward incarceration, even as state leaders are finally acknowledging the steep human and financial costs of the status quo.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Oklahoma Superintendent Joy Hofmeister seeks $221 million boost for schools

by | January 5th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions. 

Today In The News

Oklahoma Superintendent Joy Hofmeister seeks $221 million boost for schools: Despite a nearly $870 million shortfall in next year’s Oklahoma state budget, state school Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says public schools need an additional $221 million in the upcoming fiscal year. Hofmeister delivered a budget presentation Wednesday to Oklahoma House members ahead of the legislative session that begins next month. Oklahoma’s public schools received about $1.87 billion in legislative appropriations last year [Tulsa World]. It will take more than passing a sizable pay raise for teachers to solve Oklahoma’s education funding needs, according to the state’s public schools chief [Oklahoma Watch]. However you count it, Oklahoma’s per pupil education funding is way down [OK Policy].

New Speaker of the House details session goals: “It’s a challenge, this is a challenging cycle no doubt about it,” said Representative Charles McCall in his first television interview as Speaker of the Oklahoma House. He knew when he was elected that the legislature would be facing another uphill battle. “The budget we ended up with last year was not, was nowhere near close to $1.3 billion less than the previous year budget,” McCall told [FOX 25]. Revenues are expected to remain low [OK Policy].

Exclusive interview: Rep. Dan Kirby questions settlement: ‘If there was no sexual harassment, why was there a payment?’: Rep. Dan Kirby on Tuesday questioned the $44,500 the House spent on a settlement to his former assistant and her attorneys to resolve a sexual harassment and wrongful termination grievance. In an interview with the Tulsa World, Kirby said a House investigation into the matter revealed there was no sexual harassment. “I don’t understand why there was a payment,” he said. “If there was no sexual harassment, why was there a payment?” [Tulsa World].

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Oklahoma House seats lawmaker accused of sexual harassment

by | January 4th, 2017 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Oklahoma House seats lawmaker accused of sexual harassment: The Oklahoma House voted along partisan lines Tuesday to seat a Republican lawmaker who rescinded a letter of resignation he submitted after being named in a sexual harassment complaint. The GOP-controlled chamber voted to seat Rep. Dan Kirby of Tulsa following a debate between Democrats and Republicans in which Kirby denied the allegations and said he acted too quickly when he submitted a letter of resignation to House Speaker-designate Charles McCall, R-Atoka [Associated Press].

Expulsion is option in inquiry into lawmaker’s actions: A committee investigating a woman’s sexual harassment and wrongful dismissal allegations against a state representative will have a broad range of disciplinary options at its disposal under the Oklahoma Constitution, including expulsion of the lawmaker. House Speaker Charles McCall said beginning this week, the House Rules Committee would look into the case involving Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, who announced his resignation on Dec. 23 after the allegations became public and then rescinded that resignation on Dec. 28 [NewsOK].

OK House Schedules Agency, Budget Hearings in House Chamber: The Oklahoma House of Representatives will begin holding public hearings to review the five largest appropriated state agencies’ budgets next week at the state Capitol. Those five agencies received $5.36 billion – or 77 percent – of the $6.91 billion FY – 2017 appropriated budget. House Speaker Charles-elect A. McCall said the hearings will give citizens and lawmakers – particularly the 32 new members of the House – valuable insight into how agencies develop programs and spend taxpayer dollars and will help lawmakers develop funding priorities earlier than usual [The Okie].

Continue Reading »

Six takeaways from Oklahoma’s new budget estimates

by | January 3rd, 2017 | Posted in Budget | Comments (0)

In late December, the State Equalization Board met and approved a preliminary estimate of state revenues for the upcoming budget year, FY 2018. This estimate will be the basis of Governor Fallin’s Executive Budget, to be  released on the first day of session in February. The Board will meet later in February to approve revised revenue estimates that will be binding on the Legislature as it develops the FY 2018 budget. The Board also reviewed revised estimates for the current year.

Here are six things you should know about Oklahoma’s budget outlook based on the December certification:

Continue Reading »

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 343