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In Oklahoma, avoiding credit card debt can hike your insurance premiums

by | November 17th, 2016 | Posted in Financial Security | Comments (1)

On October 18 at the Oklahoma Capitol, Stillwater resident Jack Bays spoke to a conference room filled with legislators, lobbyists, and insurance professionals. It was his first time in front of a legislative committee, and quite possibly his first time in the Capitol, but he spoke with confidence as he proudly declared his status as a Vietnam veteran. Mr. Bays told the crowd that he was not a man in a suit, paid to be in the room to push an agenda. He said he was at the podium as a last resort. He described seeing his auto insurance rate increase every year even though his driving record remained clean. For a long time he didn’t know why, until he discovered that insurance companies were hiking his rates due to his credit score — which was low because he had no credit cards and no debt.

At this interim study, the Oklahoma Legislature took the first step in addressing this issue. Legislators heard testimony from Jack Bays as well as experts in the insurance industry and leading advocates for consumer protection. Chuck Bell from Consumers Union highlighted key issues that were uncovered in a recent study performed by Consumer Reports using over 2 billion quotes from 700 companies in all 50 states. This research found that in Oklahoma, good drivers with bad credit were paying up to 30 percent more than bad drivers with good credit.

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In The Know: Teacher pay raise on the minds of new and returning lawmakers

by | November 17th, 2016 | 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

Teacher pay raise on the minds of new and returning lawmakers: A teacher pay raise was on the minds of many of the new and recently re-elected lawmakers who were sworn into office Wednesday, the 109th anniversary of Oklahoma’s statehood. Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice John Reif administered the oath of office first in the House Chamber and then in the Senate Chamber as family members and friends looked on. The ceremonies attracted standing room only crowds in both galleries [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma legislators take oath of office: Members of the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives took their oath of office on Wednesday, promising to uphold the Constitution and not take any illegal compensation. Then they spent hours publicly introducing spouses, children, parents and others. Many prefaced their remarks by thanking God for the honor of being allowed to serve in the Legislature [NewsOK].

Gov. Mary Fallin wants to push for more criminal justice reform: Gov. Mary Fallin said she interprets the votes on State Questions 780 and 781 as a mandate to press for further criminal justice reform in the upcoming legislative session. The two state questions reclassified numerous drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and provided for substance abuse and mental health treatment for offenders. Each passed handily on Tuesday [Tulsa World]. Here’s what to expect in the next round of criminal justice reform [OK Policy].

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New factsheet shares the data on what poverty really looks like in Oklahoma

by | November 16th, 2016 | Posted in Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (2)

poverty-profileYou may not be surprised to learn that, despite some progress in lowering the poverty rate the past three years, more than 600,000 Oklahomans lived in poverty in 2015. But did you know that two in five Oklahomans in poverty had been employed in the past year? Or that nearly two in three Oklahomans in poverty are white? These, and other takeaways, are summarized in our 2015 Poverty Profile, a two-page fact sheet examining the state’s poverty statistics from multiple angles. 

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In The Know: SQ 779 impacted higher education’s historic budget cut

by | November 16th, 2016 | 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

SQ 779 impacted higher education’s historic budget: State Question 779 — the failed penny sales tax for education — contributed to the historic cut in state funding higher education suffered this fiscal year, lawmakers said Tuesday. The state appropriation to higher education was cut nearly 16 percent, or $153 million, from the previous year. State Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, said the “disproportionately unfair cut” was the result of two things — the $1.3 billion budget shortfall and the state question to fund education [NewsOK]. See OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQ 779 here.

State’s October general revenue 10.8 percent below estimate: State general revenue receipts continued their downward spiral in October, missing projections by 10.8 percent and coming in 5.8 percent below the same month a year ago. Receipts to the general revenue fund — the state’s primary operating fund — have been declining unabated for nearly two years. State Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said he was slightly encouraged that general revenue for the first four months of the fiscal year is only 1.8 percent below projections, which is within the 5 percent cushion built into state budgets [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma House of Representatives chooses leadership: The Oklahoma House of Representatives has selected its leadership for the 56th Legislature. The house affirmed Tuesday that Rep. Charles McCall was their choice for House Speaker-elect. McCall was elected by the caucus in May as the House Speaker-designate. The caucus also selected Rep. Harold Wright as Speaker Pro Tempore-elect. Rep. David Brumbaugh will serve as Caucus Chairman for a second term. Rep. Elise Hall will serve as Vice Caucus Chairwoman and Rep. Katie Henke will serve as Caucus Secretary [Fox 25].

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In The Know: State lawmaker proposes a $10,000 teacher pay raise

by | November 15th, 2016 | 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

State lawmaker proposes a $10,000 teacher pay raise: A state lawmaker says he will introduce a measure next session to provide for a $10,000 teacher pay raise. Voters on Tuesday defeated State Question 779, which would have increased the sales tax by 1 percent to pay for a $5,000 teacher pay raise and fund common education, higher education and CareerTech. State Question 779 was brought to a vote through the ballot initiative process and championed by University of Oklahoma President David Boren [Tulsa World].

OK Group Pressuring Legislature To ‘Pass A Plan’ To Improve Education Funding: Last week, voters turned down a proposed hike in the state sales tax that would have provided for teacher pay raises. Now the campaign again is shifting back to pressuring the state legislature. “Pass a Plan” is the education advocacy group Stand For Children’s new campaign. The public is asked to sign a digital open letter to government leaders demanding they pass a plan to get Oklahoma education funding back on track [NewsOn6].

Tulsa Public Schools report reveals racial, economic disparities in student discipline, attendance: As Tulsa Public Schools leaders work to reduce racial, social and cultural disparities in factors that can determine a student’s success, the district released a snapshot of data last week that Superintendent Deborah Gist said shows “why we feel so urgent about this need.” Click here! “We have very significant discrepancies, and those break across a number of different lines, but it includes differences based on race and other social and cultural factors,” Gist said at the Nov. 7 school board meeting [Tulsa World].

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Six takeaways from Tuesday’s vote

by | November 14th, 2016 | Posted in Elections | Comments (2)

I-votedWhile most of the attention in Oklahoma last week focused on the geological earthquake that shook the state and the political earthquake that shook the nation, the state election results got less detailed coverage. Here are a few of our important takeaways from the vote:

Turnout was up

A total of 1,451,056 Oklahomans cast ballots for President, according to data provided by the State Election Board. That’s 132,000 more than the Presidential votes cast in 2012 (1,332,872), a 9.9 percent increase, but almost identical to the numbers in 2008 (1,462,661) and 2004 (1,463,758). Oklahoma saw a big increase in early voting: over 152,000 people took advantage of in-person early voting, compared to a previous high of 114,000 in 2008. The turnout rate of registered voters was 67.3 percent, also up from 2012. We won’t have numbers on the turnout rate for eligible voters — which includes those who are not registered to vote – until the Census Bureau releases data from its voter survey, but it should be up slightly from the 52.4 percent of eligible voters who voted in 2012.

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In The Know: What Trump’s election could mean for Oklahoma

by | November 14th, 2016 | 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

What Trump’s Election Could Mean for Oklahoma: The full impact of Donald Trump’s presidency in Oklahoma won’t become clear for some time, but its implications already loom large in the areas of health, energy, taxes and infrastructure spending. Policy analysts and political observers interviewed by Oklahoma Watch since Tuesday’s election said Trump’s plans, if enacted by Congress, could produce a tectonic shift felt from one end of the state to the other. Here is an initial assessment of how Oklahoma might fare under Donald Trump’s presidency in several key policy arenas [Oklahoma Watch].

Trump victory may mean federal judge nominees for Oklahoma City are replaced: Two nominees for federal judgeships in Oklahoma City may be replaced next year after President-elect Donald Trump takes office, Oklahoma’s senators acknowledged this week. The nominees, Suzanne Mitchell and Scott Palk, were approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would not allow Senate confirmation votes. McConnell blocked votes on most judicial nominations this year — and refused to hold hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland — in hopes a Republican would win the presidency and replace President Barack Obama’s nominees with new ones [NewsOK].

Diverse group gathers in downtown Tulsa to promote rights, well-being of oppressed people: A crowd of more than 100 people gathered Saturday afternoon in downtown Tulsa to promote the rights of underrepresented groups in the wake of the U.S. presidential election. About a dozen speakers from different backgrounds shared their stories and thoughts on how to move forward in protecting members of the LGBT community as well as members of religious and ethnic minorities [Tulsa World].

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The Weekly Wonk: The racial wealth gap, military food insecurity, who doesn’t vote, and more

by | November 13th, 2016 | 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

On the OK Policy Blog, Policy Analyst and Oklahoma Assets Network Coordinator DeVon Douglass highlighted the persistence of the racial wealth gap. In a guest blog post, Effie Craven of the Oklahoma Food Banks called for greater resources to be put towards veteran and military food insecurity.

Executive Director David Blatt discussed who doesn’t vote, and why. In his Journal Record column, Blatt examined small signs of change in the election outcomes. We released a statement on Tuesday night calling for lawmakers to take responsibility for school funding. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis suggested that the indictment of Supt. Joy Hofmeister highlights the need for campaign finance reform.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt appeared on Studio Tulsa, where he discussed Tuesday’s elections. Blatt shared election takeaways in a Tulsa World article. Blatt spoke to Oklahoma Watch about effects of SQ 779’s failure to pass. Prior to the election, Blatt spoke with NewsOK about the interest around the State Questions, and with Oklahoma Watch about the odds the State Questions would pass. The Oklahoman’s Editorial Board quoted our statement on SQ 779’s failure

Policy Director Gene Perry and OCPA CEO Dave Bond spoke about the State Questions with the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce. Julie Couch of the Stillwater News Press cited OK Policy analysis in her discussion of the election. The Ada News cited OK Policy on the 2017 Legislative session.

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Answering the Call: Food Security among Military Service Members and Veterans (Guest post: Effie Craven)

by | November 11th, 2016 | Posted in Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)

Effie Craven serves as the State Advocacy and Public Policy Director for the Oklahoma Food Banks — the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma — where she advocates for programs and policies that promote access to nutritious foods and economic security for all Oklahomans.

One in six Oklahomans struggles with hunger, 25 percent of Oklahoma children are at risk of going to bed hungry at night, and 16 percent of our population live at or below the federal poverty line. These staggering figures highlight the critical problem of hunger in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, our military service members and veterans are not immune.

With more than 300,000 veterans in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Food Banks are deeply concerned that tens of thousands of our state’s former service members may be struggling with hunger. According to a study published in 2015, more than one in four Iraq and Afghanistan veterans nationwide reported being food insecure in the past year. A separate 2015 study found that 24 percent of veterans who have accessed care through the Veterans Health Administration (VA) reported being food insecure. Feeding America’s Hunger in America report included data on veteran and military status among food pantry clients across the nation for the first time in 2014. The study found that than 1 in 5 households served by the Feeding America food bank network reported having at least one member who has served in the U.S. military.

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In The Know: Libertarian candidates exceed expectations

by | November 11th, 2016 | Posted in Blog, 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

Libertarian candidates exceed expectations: Despite losing in every race, Oklahoma Libertarians are in a celebratory mood. For the first time in more than a dozen years, the Libertarian Party appeared in federal, state and local races. With Oklahoma’s new ballot access laws, the party will be able to remain a recognized political party at least until the next statewide election in 2018. The party had to secure at least 2.5 percent of the electorate for its presidential nominee, Gary Johnson [Journal Record].

Big Ag Had A Very Bad Election Night: On a tense election night, when most eyes were fixed on the volatile presidential race, an unlikely coalition of environmentalists, animal welfare advocates and a spectrum of other organizations won a quiet, hard-fought victory in Oklahoma. In a major setback for industrialized agriculture in the Great Plains, Oklahoma voters resoundingly rejected a “right-to-farm” question that opponents say would have made it difficult to approve any new regulations of the state’s farmers going forward [Huffington Post]. Our fact sheet on SQ 777 is available here.

Defeat of SQ 779 sends clear message to Oklahoma lawmakers: In overwhelmingly rejecting a permanent 1-cent increase in the state sales tax to fund teacher pay raises and other education concerns, Oklahoma voters sent a clear message to the members of the Republican-controlled Legislature: Do your jobs. They haven’t shown much of a willingness to do so, which is how State Question 779 wound up on the ballot Tuesday. But that resistance must end in 2017, because the teacher pay raise issue isn’t going anywhere until it does [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman]. Our fact sheet on SQ 779 is available here.

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