Skip to Content

In The Know: Support grows for one penny sales tax increase

by | January 25th, 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

Support grows for one penny sales tax increase: An exclusive News 9/News On 6 poll shows growing support for a one penny sales tax increase that would fund education in Oklahoma. We asked more than 1,000 likely voters if they support or oppose a new one-cent sales tax, with the money going to fund teacher pay and other education expenses. Sixty-four percent say they would support the tax, up 7 points since November. Twenty-nine percent oppose the tax and seven percent have no opinion [News9]. Read our statement on the sales tax proposal here

​Oklahoma becomes ‘an intake state’ for disposal wells​: ​Wastewater produced by oil and gas exploration in other states may not be injected back into its land of origin but shipped out of state to areas like Oklahoma, state officials said. Oklahoma receives wastewater from Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Arkansas, according to Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports [Enid News]. Arkansas successfully stopped its earthquake swarm by creating a moratorium area around the earthquakes where no new disposal wells could go in, and where all those that had been operating were shut down [News9].

Continue Reading »

The Weekly Wonk: Access to child care, the link between health and inequality, and more…

by | January 24th, 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

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Research Fellow Candace Smith argued that Oklahoma needs to reduce inequality to achieve better health. Inequality in Oklahoma is at an all-time high. A post in our Neglected Oklahoma series compared the public school experiences of two Oklahoma City children who live just a mile apart. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam found that child care is getting less accessible for working parents. 

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis wondered about the future of juvenile justice improvements following the resignation of the office’s director. Executive Director David Blatt wrote in his Journal Record column that the state Supreme Court made the right decision in allowing an initiative petition aimed at increasing education funding to proceed. OK Policy’s statement on the proposed initiative is here. Our Budget Trends & Outlook fact sheet summarizes the budget situation in 14 bullet points and four charts. 

Upcoming Events

  • Tickets to our 2016 State Budget Summit have sold out, but we’ll be live-tweeting the event! Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #okbudget16.
  • OK Policy, The Community Service Council, Metropolitan Human Services Commission in Tulsa, and Tulsa Community College will host State Treasurer Ken Miller on Friday, February 19, from 12pm to 1:30pm for “Up Close – Oklahoma’s Budget Crisis.” The event is free and lunch will be provided, but space is limited! Click here to register. For more information, contact Dan Arthrell (darthrell@csctulsa.org). 

    Continue Reading »

After resignation of director, will Oklahoma keep improving juvenile justice system? (Capitol Updates)

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. You can sign up on his website to receive the Capitol Updates newsletter by email.

Generally beneath the radar screen, some potentially significant changes are underway for the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA.) OJA provides prevention and treatment programs for delinquent children or those who may be at risk of becoming delinquent. A child is delinquent if declared so by a court for committing an act that would be a crime if the child were an adult. OJA provides services through community based prevention and treatment services, counseling, shelters, detention, probation, group homes, secure residential facilities and re-entry.

OJA Director Keith Wilson resigned last month along with the agency’s chief of staff. Wilson, a retired lawyer and judge in Kansas and former public defender in Oklahoma understands the juvenile justice system and left behind some significant accomplishments. He created and obtained funding from the legislature for a separate secure facility for girls who had previously been confined in the coed Central Oklahoma Juvenile Treatment Facility in Tecumseh. He also got legislation passed and started an OJA charter school for children in the agency’s three residential institutions.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Senator proposes plan for $10,000 teacher pay raise

by | January 22nd, 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 With No Tax Increase? State Senator Offers Complicated Proposal: A Republican senator said he had a “moral obligation” to propose a complicated, six-part plan to give Oklahoma teachers a $10,000 pay raise without a tax increase, despite the state facing a $900 million budget shortfall. The $400 million proposal, released Thursday by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, instead would seek funding from overhauling tax breaks, by consolidating the number of school districts and by diverting a portion of future budget growth to education [Oklahoma Watch].

A Way Home for Tulsa surpasses goal of housing 290 homeless veterans: A collaboration of 23 area agencies working to house and provide support services to those in need surpassed its goal of housing 290 homeless veterans last year. Working as A Way Home for Tulsa, the agencies spearheaded Zero:2016 Tulsa, part of a national effort to end veteran and chronic homelessness. The collaboration was able to house 298 veterans and 78 chronically homeless [Tulsa World]. The large number of returning veterans from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has inundated the national veteran assistance system with more than it is equipped to handle [OK Policy].

Politics versus reality of business and economics: As our state budget and future revenue outlook crumbles, many of our political leaders who helped get us in this mess have been very defensive. They seem unwilling to reconsider the short and long term implications of tax and policy mistakes. On Jan. 13, Gov. Mary Fallin issued a press release that for political purposes ignores the breath and depth of the recent decision of GE to relocate its headquarters from a suburban Connecticut location to Boston. The press release is but another example of the failure of our state leaders to have honest conversations with us about how to move our state forward and be competitive in today and tomorrow’s world [Dennis Neil / Tulsa World].

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Lawmakers fear second revenue failure for current fiscal year

by | January 21st, 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

Lawmakers fear second revenue failure for current fiscal year: Lawmakers are concerned that a spiraling drop in oil prices could result in a second revenue failure for the current fiscal year. A number of scenarios to deal with it are under discussion, including additional cuts in general revenue to state appropriated agencies, House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, confirmed Wednesday. “If oil continues to drop, I feel there will be another revenue failure for 2016,” Sears said in response to questions about the budget [Tulsa World].  A revenue failure is the result of revenue collections coming in well below the official estimate upon which this year’s appropriations were based [OK Policy].

Suspend state income tax cut: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Mike Mazzei has filed legislation to suspend a 0.25 percent income tax cut that went into effect Jan. 1. The proposal is politically brave and fiscally prudent, and we support it. Mazzei’s Senate Bill 1073 would back away from the cut in the state’s top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent and specify that such a reduction cannot occur in a year in which a revenue failure has been declared. It also raises the standard for the next scheduled income tax cut 5 percent to 4.85 percent [Tulsa World]. The cost of state income tax cuts since the mid-2000s has grown to over $1 billion annually [OK Policy].

SandRidge, Oklahoma Corporation Commission reach settlement on disposal wells: SandRidge Energy Inc. has agreed to close some disposal wells and convert others to research wells in a settlement announced Wednesday by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The deal includes areas of earthquake activity in northern Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City energy company said it would remove seven saltwater disposal wells from its operations [NewsOK].

Continue Reading »

To improve Oklahoma’s health, we must reduce inequality (Guest Post: Candace Smith)

by | January 20th, 2016 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (1)

Candace Smith

Candace Smith

Candace Smith is an OK Policy Research Fellow and a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma’s (OU) Norman Campus. She is also a research assistant at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Office of Planning, Research and Statistics.

Chronic diseases create significant quality of life challenges to patients and families, are expensive to treat, and occur with uncomfortable frequency in Oklahoma. Given our state’s poor overall health rankings, it comes as no surprise that we have some of the highest occurrences of chronic disease in the nation. Evidence shows that social inequalities drive these troubling diseases. It is abundantly clear that improving Oklahoman’s health requires reducing inequality.

A chronic disease is a health condition that lasts at least twelve months, requires ongoing medical attention, and/or limits an individual’s daily activities. They may be brought on or worsened by certain activities or behaviors: for instance, smoking commonly triggers emphysema, and unhealthy eating can cause diabetes. Although the prevalence of chronic disease is increasing around the country, the situation is especially bad in Oklahoma. Compared to both the nation and to nearby states like Arkansas, Texas, and Kansas, Oklahoma performs poorly on most chronic disease indicators.

Continue Reading »

In the Know: Oklahoma mental health agency considers cutting private-practice counselors from SoonerCare

by | January 20th, 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

Oklahoma mental health agency considers cutting private-practice counselors from SoonerCare: In response to a shrinking state budget, the state mental health agency is proposing no longer paying independent counselors and therapists in private practice to treat Oklahomans covered by SoonerCare. Last month, state finance officials declared a revenue failure — a projected $157 million shortfall — and said state agencies will see a 3 percent cut in their monthly general revenue allocations for the next six months. This has meant state agencies, including the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, are left to scramble to find ways to save money to balance their budgets [The Oklahoman].

OK Policy releases Budget Trends and Outlook for January 2016: The state faces a huge budget shortfall this year as a result of revenue collections coming in below projections. The Board of Equalization certified $6,059M in available funds for FY 2017, which is 12.9 percent less than in FY 2016. Budget shortfalls are a result of both the economic slowdown and policy choices [OK Policy].

More quakes rattle Oklahoma but state avoids tough measures: In Oklahoma, now the country’s earthquake capital, people are talking nervously about the big one as man-made quakes get stronger, more frequent and closer to major population centers. Next door in Kansas, they’re feeling on firmer ground though no one is ready yet to declare victory. A year ago, the states had a common problem — earthquakes caused by the disposal of wastewater from oil and gas exploration. They chose different solutions [Associated Press].

Continue Reading »

Child care is getting less accessible for Oklahoma’s working parents

For many working Oklahoma families, child care is both an absolute requirement and a significant expense. The cost of child care can easily match or even surpass that of college tuition. Low-income families can catch a break through child care subsidies, which pay part or all of a child’s care expenses while parents are at work, at school, or receiving training. However, participation in the subsidy program has dropped off by more than 30 percent in the last 13 years, from nearly 49,000 children in 2004 to just 31,525 in 2015.

The need for child care certainly hasn’t decreased, so what’s driving the change? The answer seems to boil down to a range of contributing factors, including cost to families, the changing nature of work, provider participation, and demographic shifts. But one thing that probably isn’t a factor is more children enrolling in preschool instead of child care. Here’s what we found:

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Oklahoma’s budget options should include delay of tax cut, GOP leader says

by | January 19th, 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

Oklahoma’s budget options should include delay of tax cut, GOP leader says: Senate Finance Committee Chairman Mike Mazzei said Monday that Oklahoma’s “financial management options” should include suspension of the 0.25 percent reduction in the state income-tax rate that went into effect Jan. 1. Mazzei last week filed Senate Bill 1073, which voids the reduction approved by the state Equalization Board in December 2014 and specifies such a reduction cannot occur in a fiscal year in which a revenue failure has been declared. SB 1073 also raises the requirements for triggering a rate cut from 5 percent to 4.85 percent [Tulsa World].

It’s been clear for months that the oil economy is hurting, but will Oklahoma see an 1980s repeat?: George Nigh well remembers the last time the Oklahoma oil economy tanked — and the day that seemed to signal hard times ahead. It was July 5, 1982. The former governor was in the midst of running for re-election, heading to a campaign event when the phone rang in his car. It was his campaign treasurer calling to deliver the news that federal regulators had just closed the Oklahoma City shopping center bank that had come to symbolize the oil boom and the go-go lending of the late 1970s and early 1980s [NewsOK].

Oklahoma’s oncoming budget shortfall could be worse than the Great Recession: According to State Treasurer Ken Miller, last month’s gross tax receipts were the smallest for the month of December since 2010. In December 2010 we were in the midst of FY-2011 which was a budget year with a shortfall that approached $1 billion. But the 2010 legislature had the benefit of $540 million in federal stimulus money to help relieve the shortfall [OK Policy].

Continue Reading »

What a difference a mile makes (Neglected Oklahoma)


Camille 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).

man-person-school-headWilliam is a 7th grader who attends a suburban middle school. His school has well-equipped classrooms staffed by certified teachers. Every child has the appropriate textbooks and school supplies. The majority of the children at this school work at or above grade level; they scored well above the state average on standardized tests. Plenty of extra help is available for those who need it. The school received an 8/10 rating on the education.com site and a B on the OK state school report card. William is hoping for a basketball scholarship to OU or maybe an out of state college. It’s likely that William will graduate high school, like 95 percent of the students who attend his school (10 percent higher than the state’s average).

“Sure I’m going to college. Almost everybody here is planning to go to college,” William reports.

Continue Reading »

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 296