Why didn’t the lottery solve Oklahoma’s education funding problems?

by | October 1st, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Education | Comments (1)
Photo by Lisa Brewster used under Creative Commons License.

Photo by Lisa Brewster used under Creative Commons License.

Almost without fail, any news story related to money for Oklahoma schools will attract commenters bitterly pointing out they thought the lottery was supposed to solve our education funding problems. So why hasn’t the lottery gotten Oklahoma out of the bottom rungs for education funding? The short answer is that the lottery helps some, but the boost it provides is far less than what has been cut from other revenue sources in recent years. For the long answer, read on.

continue reading Why didn’t the lottery solve Oklahoma’s education funding problems?

In The Know: District judge upholds Oklahoma’s attempt to defund Affordable Care Act

by and | October 1st, 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.

U.S. District Judge Ronald White, a George W. Bush appointee, upheld Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s lawsuit that seeks to take away tax credits to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The ruling will be appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver and may ultimately go to the Supreme Court. If Pruitt’s lawsuit is successful, about 55,000 Oklahomans will lose tax credits that enable them to purchase affordable health insurance. ThinkProgress identified serious flaws in Judge White’s legal reasoning, which ignores binding Supreme Court precedent and engages in selective quotation out of context to support his conclusion.

In a new execution protocol released by the state, Oklahoma is not backing down from using a controversial execution drug, and the number of media witnesses allowed to view executions has been cut by more than half. Oklahoma Watch reported that Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that does not allow juvenile courts to determine whether youths in delinquency cases have the mental competency to go through court proceedings. On the OK Policy Blog, we examine what’s stopping Oklahomans from voting or participating in democracy. A previous post shared statistics showing that Oklahoma’s democracy is broken in several ways.

A lawsuit seeking to strike down a law that puts restrictions on the use of the drug RU486 for abortions was filed Tuesday in Oklahoma County District Court. Some Oklahoma sheriffs are pushing back against legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn that seeks to stop the flow of wartime military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. Though the bridge connecting Purcell and Lexington is reopened for traffic, transportation officials say they will keep a load limit on the bridge as they construct a new bridge.

In an interim study at the state Capitol yesterday, Oklahoma educators and other community members asked lawmakers to send a message a to Congress to fully fund a federal program that provides aid to school districts that have had property lands seized by the federal government or Native American tribes. A rally to end mass incarceration will be held Thursday at the state Capitol, with speakers including Democratic State Sen. Connie Johnson and family members of prisoners serving long sentences. Walmart is getting into the banking industry, which could provide a new option for the one in three Oklahoma households that are unbanked or underbanked. A report for the Oklahoma Assets Network authored by OK Policy examined the barriers to fair banking services and other ways to save for low-income families in Oklahoma.

The Number of the Day is how many Oklahoma children received subsidized childcare in 2013 so their parents could participate in employment or education. In today’s Policy Note, a ProPublica investigation finds that American oil and gas workers – men and women often performing high-risk jobs – are routinely being underpaid, and the companies hiring them often are using accounting techniques to deny workers benefits such as medical leave or unemployment insurance.

continue reading In The Know: District judge upholds Oklahoma’s attempt to defund Affordable Care Act

Broken Democracy, Part II: What’s getting in the way of voting?

by | September 30th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (13)
Photo by Vox Efx.

Photo by Vox Efx.

It may have been hard for Oklahomans and other Americans not to develop an acute case of election envy during the recent Scottish referendum on independence. Eighty-five percent of eligible Scottish voters cast a ballot; in some districts, turnout topped 90 percent. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, less than half of registered voters went to the polls in 2012, and in this year’s November elections, fewer than 40 percent are likely to show up to decide who will represent us in statewide offices, Congress, and the state legislature. Oklahoma’s voter turnout is now among the very lowest in the nation.

As we discussed in this recent blog post, low voter turnout is one major indicator of the breakdown of democracy in Oklahoma, along with declining voter registration, the growing number of uncontested elections, and a demographically unrepresentative legislature.  Here we look at factors that may be hindering Oklahomans from participating fully in the electoral process.

continue reading Broken Democracy, Part II: What’s getting in the way of voting?

In The Know: CTB/McGraw-Hill backs out of consideration for winter testing contract

by and | September 30th, 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.

CTB/McGraw-Hill, the testing vendor at the center of controversy after two years of statewide testing disruptions, is withdrawing itself from consideration for a new contract for Oklahoma’s winter testing. The state Department of Education had earlier requested CTB/McGraw-Hill be awarded a no-bid contract to administer the testing, but the State Board of Education tabled that recommendation. The Tulsa World examined by many of Oklahoma’s teachers of the year have ended up leaving the classroom. On the OK Policy Blog, we discussed the conservative case for raising the minimum wage.

Gov. Mary Fallin and Democratic challenger Joe Dorman will meet Thursday at Oklahoma State University for their only debate before the Nov. 4 general election. The debate will air live on OETA and stream online at www.oeta.tv. OETA is encouraging viewers to discuss the debate on social media using the hashtag #okvotes14. While most state schools face a rising non-English-speaking Hispanic population, Enid Schools are working with a growing number of students from the Marshal Islands. Enid has the fourth largest concentration of Marshallese nationals in the United States. Tulsa County commissioners voted Monday to set the daily cost to house inmates at the Tulsa Jail.

An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper arrested earlier this month on accusations that he raped and sexually assaulted three women during traffic stops has resigned from the patrol. A former Wewoka police officer was jailed Monday on charges of statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl multiple times while on duty. The widow of a man who died after a struggle with law enforcement in the Warren Theatre parking lot is suing the City of Moore for $10 million. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is taking over a stalking case from the Rogers County District Attorney’s Office because he is concerned about the victim’s safety. The Oklahoman examined some of what’s faced by the one in three Oklahoma women who experience domestic violence.

KGOU shared audio from a panel on the legacy of Governor Henry Bellmon at OK Policy’s Summer Policy Institute. The Oklahoman shared arguments made in a lawsuit over the state’s latest income tax reduction measure. We previously examined what’s behind the lawsuit on the OK Policy Blog. Severe drought is causing numerous water lines to leak and break in Chickasha. Many of Chickasha’s water lines were laid as long as 80 years ago. Boeing plans to move most of its defense and support-related services from Washington state to cities that include Oklahoma City and St. Louis.  The company says about 900 jobs could move to Oklahoma City in three years. Union workers with Spirit AeroSystems voted an overwhelming “no” on a new contract that was presented as a “best and final offer” from company management. Spirit is trying to sell its Tulsa operations which employ 2,300 people, and workers are afraid a sale will mean massive layoffs and loss of benefits. Oklahoma Corporation Commission staff and commissioners revisited their ongoing effort to update decades-old laws and regulations for rapidly changing drilling processes.

The Number of the Day is the median hourly wage for statisticians in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, The Atlantic discusses how police have a much bigger domestic abuse problem than the NFL.

continue reading In The Know: CTB/McGraw-Hill backs out of consideration for winter testing contract

The conservative case for raising the minimum wage

by | September 29th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Economy, Poverty | Comments (0)
Fast food workers strike at McDonald's in Chicago. Photo by Steve Rhodes.

Fast food workers strike at McDonald’s in Chicago. Photo by Steve Rhodes.

For many working Oklahomans, low-wage jobs aren’t paying enough to support themselves and their families without public assistance. Raising the minimum wage would boost the overall economy while properly shifting the responsibility for ensuring family economic security back towards the private sector and away from government and taxpayers.

Oklahoma is a state with a high concentration of low-wage jobs. Nearly one of every three jobs in Oklahoma (31.9 percent) is in an occupation where the median annual pay is below the federal poverty threshold for a family of four, the fifth highest prevalence among the states. Of this low-wage population, some 60,000 workers earned the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Between 2008 and 2012, some 67,000 Oklahomans worked full-time year round yet earned less than $15,000 for the year, four-fifths of whom were supporting or helping to support an entire household with their wages. 

continue reading The conservative case for raising the minimum wage

In The Know: Harold Hamm rewriting his company’s history to stave off divorce payout

by and | September 29th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (1)

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.

A Reuters investigation found that Continental Resources has been rewriting its history on the company website – diminishing the company’s accomplishments and changing the dates of key achievements – in ways that could help CEO Harold Hamm reduce a record divorce settlement owed to his wife. The Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association is joining the chorus of calls for state Superintendent Janet Barresi to resign from office immediately. The Oklahoman editorial board discussed OK Policy’s recent blog post on the state’s faltering democracy. You can see our original post here. Republicans and Democrats have been showcasing candidates and registering voters at the Tulsa State Fair.

In the latest OK PolicyCast, we discuss the growing crisis in Oklahoma’s prisons and signs that state leaders might actually do something about it. The Tulsa World reported that nearly 1,500 inmates have been freed from prison since March under an early-release system restoring “earned credits” lost due to misconduct. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said the suspect in a gruesome beheading at a Moore food processing plant should have been in prison longer for prior convictions of drug possession and assaulting a highway patrol trooper. The Tulsa World reported on how prescription medications, often coming from a legitimate prescription, have become the biggest cause of drug overdoses in the state. The Arkansas Times wrote that an Oklahoma lawmaker’s suggestion to create a public online list of everyone with meth convictions, similar to the sex offender registry, could create a permanent underclass in the state.

This year’s health insurance enrollment period begins Nov. 15 for Oklahomans wanting to get health insurance from the federal marketplace and for anyone wanting to make a change to the plan they got during open enrollment last year. You can find more resources and information about the health insurance marketplace here. On the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis discusses the beginnings of this year’s state budget process. Three Canadian County school districts are scrambling to resolve budget turmoil following the discovery that business personal property taxes paid by several oilfield companies had been allocated to the wrong school districts. KGOU reported on how an Oklahoma City nonprofit is working to provide educational opportunities for undocumented students. Regents Chancellor Glen Johnson authored an op-ed discussing Oklahoma’s successes in increasing the number of college degrees and certificates awarded.

In the midst of a budget crisis following major tax cuts, Kansas is auctioning off numerous sex toys confiscated from an adult entertainment purveyor for nonpayment of taxes. The U.S. Supreme Court is meeting today to discuss whether they’ll review challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Oklahoma and four other states. An environmental researcher speaking at a Water Symposium at the University of Oklahoma said that as demand for water grows and scientists warn of drier years ahead, Oklahoma could learn much from how developing countries address water security issues. A Tulsa trash board plan to burn curbside green waste would take a previous plan to invest in an active composting facility for Tulsa off the table. The Number of the Day is how much suicide deaths in Oklahoma outnumber homicides. In today’s Policy Note, Wonkblog explains why the U.S. is actually doing better at fighting poverty than the poverty rate shows.

continue reading In The Know: Harold Hamm rewriting his company’s history to stave off divorce payout

The Weekly Wonk September 28, 2014

by | September 28th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | 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 KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This week on the OK Policy Blog, we explained how funding cuts are leaving Oklahoma’s community health centers in dire straits. We’ve previously discussed funding woes for community health centers. We illustrated how indiscriminate DNA testing could put innocent Oklahomans at risk. In this week’s Capitol Updates post, Steve Lewis describes the advent of the state budget process and the discomfort that ensues when agency directors trying to do good fight over limited funds. We also welcomed our new class of Research Fellows and interns.

This week on the PolicyCast, we talked about the growing crisis in Oklahoma’s prisons and signs that state leaders might actually do something about it; yet another controversy around state Superintendent Barresi; how the Oklahoma governor’s race is heating up on the airwaves; and more. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt evaluated new poverty data and noted that Oklahoma’s economy is only as good as political leaders say it is if you’re not poor or middle-class. Ozy Magazine quoted Blatt in an article on past and impending income tax cuts across the US. The Enid News previewed and covered a Together Tuesdays event. Learn more about Together OK‘s Together Tuesdays here.

KGOU aired audio from a panel on Oklahoma’s fiscal challenges. The panel had convened as part of our 2014 Summer Policy Institute. In our Editorial of the Week, former CEO of Oklahoma Health Care Authority Mike Fogarty explained why accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma would be good for the state’s health.

Quote of the week:

“There’s supposed to be two per cell but there’s, like you know, five or six in a cell. People are sleeping under beds and in walkways; some aren’t on mats but on the floor.”

- A woman whose husband was in the Okmulgee County jail, which is currently housing more than double the 150 inmates it was designed to hold. A riot early this week caused $10,000 in damage and sent one inmate to the hospital. Prison officials blamed the riot on “extreme overcrowding.” (Source: http://bit.ly/Y4immr)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Numbers of the day:

  • 18.3% – The poverty rate for women in Oklahoma, 1.5 percentage points higher than the state as a whole.
  • 28.06% – Percentage of Oklahoma nursing homes with “severe deficiencies,” defined as violations of state or federal law that resulted in resident injury, abuse, neglect or death.
  • 22.9% – Poverty rate for Native Americans in Oklahoma in 2013, 6.1 percentage points higher than the US as a whole.
  • $2.55 million – How much Oklahoma put in a fund to reimburse uncompensated care at community health centers this year — less than one-third of what they said they will need, and even less than the $3.12 million FY 2014 funding that ran out before half the year was over.
  • 2,300 – Unintentional injury deaths in Oklahoma in 2012, 1 out of every 16 deaths in the state that year. The leading causes of unintentional injury death include poisonings, motor vehicle crashes, and falls.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

What we’re reading:

OK PolicyCast: Episode 9

by | September 26th, 2014 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)

radio micYou can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.

This week we discuss the growing crisis in Oklahoma’s prisons and signs that state leaders might actually do something about it; yet another controversy around state Superintendent Barresi; how the Oklahoma governor’s race is heating up on the airwaves; & more.

You can download the podcast here or play it in your browser:

Oklahoma’s budget process begins (Capitol Updates)

by | September 26th, 2014 | Posted in Blog, Capitol Updates | Comments (0)

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.

Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis

This is the time of year when state agency boards and directors are approving their budget requests for FY 2016.  Most agencies had a set of internal deadlines to prepare their budget request for consideration at their September board meetings.  The requests are due to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) on October 1st

continue reading Oklahoma’s budget process begins (Capitol Updates)

In The Know: State Board of Education delays rehiring testing vendor

by | September 26th, 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.

The State Board of Education chose Thursday to delay the decision to rehire testing company CTB/McGraw-Hill. The company had previously been fired following two consecutive years of statewide disruptions during testing. Despite calls for her resignation from a Board member and a state legislator following accusations of cronyism, state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi says she is not stepping down.

The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board is calling for Barresi’s resignation, arguing that she has lost the confidence of the state Board of Education and the people of Oklahoma. The state Board of Education also unveiled and approved membership of a standards creation steering committee on Thursday, over Barresi’s attempts to amend the motion. The committee will oversee the standards creation process approved this year following the repeal of Common Core. The Tulsa World spoke to three retired educators on the eve of their inductions to the Oklahoma African-American Educators Hall of Fame about their memories of desegregation in Tulsa. We’ve written before about how Tulsa schools are still largely segregated by race and income.

Oklahoma’s remodeled execution chamber, complete with reformed protocols, will be completed in time for executions in November, according to state Department of Corrections director Robert Patton. A federal judge had previously expressed concern regarding the state’s ability to meet the November deadline. A statewide campaign against “smurfing,” wherein a third party purchases pseudoephedrine for a meth cook who may be barred from purchasing the drug, kicked off Thursday. State officials hope the campaign will stem the production of methamphetamine in Oklahoma. In his Journal Record column, Arnold Hamilton argued that legislators’ recent efforts to push for a religious monument at the state Capitol is a cynical power play. The Oklahoma Gazette described tensions over energy production in Oklahoma, from earthquakes to taxation.

State officials have announced that Oklahoma exceeded its year-two Complete College America goals, achieving more than double the target number of degrees and certificates. The initiative aims to increased the number of degrees and certificates earned in the state by 1,700 per year through 2023. KGOU described how a growing trend of renting properties in downtown Oklahoma City could force people looking for affordable housing to outlying neighborhoods.

StateImpact explained confusion and controversy over the ‘Waters of the United States’ designation, the federal government’s attempt to define which bodies of water qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act. Some state officials claim it represents a federal takeover of Oklahoma’s waterways and an additional headache for the state’s farmers and ranchers. Due to worsening drought, Oklahoma farmers have begun to plant winter wheat earlier than normal this year, hoping to use what little moisture remains in the soil.

The Number of the Day is the number of unintentional injury deaths in Oklahoma in 2012, 1 out of every 16 deaths in the state that year. The leading causes of unintentional injury death include poisonings, motor vehicle crashes, and falls. In today’s Policy Note, The Atlantic makes the economic case for paternity leave.

continue reading In The Know: State Board of Education delays rehiring testing vendor

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. ...
  11. 231