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The Weekly Wonk: New OK Policy budget report examines past successes and current struggles, Save Our State releases budget blueprint, and more

by | April 30th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, 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

OK Policy released a new budget report that examines our past successes and evaluates how we’re building on those, or falling behind. Executive Executive Director David Blatt was a guest on the latest episode of STANDcast from Stand for Children, where the discussion focused on the new budget blueprint from the Save Our State Coalition, and authored a blog post regarding the importance of restoring the Gross Production Tax to its historic rate. Blatt also was a guest on Public Radio Tulsa for a discussion of the Save Our State Coalition’s budget blueprint.

Blatt’s Journal Record column implored legislators to fix the budget crises with responsible revenue solutions, instead of more cuts to state agencies. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update wonders if Oklahoma is, at last, breaking free from anti-tax dogma. Policy Director Gene Perry was quoted by the Huffington Post in a story about the use of state lotteries to fund education

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The Weekly Wonk: Potential financial crisis facing Indigent Defense System, Solving our budget crisis will require responsible revenue options, and more

by | April 23rd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (1)

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

Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler made us aware of the potential financial crisis facing the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System if their funding levels are not restored in this year’s budget. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison reminded us that a decision made last year to cut Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit is impacting many low-income Oklahoma families this tax season. OK Policy Intern Maggie Den Harder told us about a new school meal program in some Oklahoma school districts providing after-school meals and snacks to food insecure students.

Executive Director David Blatt celebrated the 5-year anniversary of his Prosperity Policy column with some good news – tax cut fever seems to have broken in the state legislature this year.  In an editorial for the Tulsa World, Blatt contended that solving our budget crisis will require policy makers to adopt responsible revenue options like restoring the tax on oil and gas drilling to its historic rate. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update reminds us of the importance of increased revenue in this year’s budget discussion. 

OK Policy in the News

The Save Our State (SOS) coalition, a group of more than 21 statewide organizations including OK Policy, unveiled their budget blueprint for Oklahoma’s current fiscal emergency. Click here to find out more about the coalition or see the budget blueprint.

Gentzler was interviewed by OETA for Dollars for Dimes, which explores the increasing cost of fines and fees in the Oklahoma criminal justice system.  You can view the full episode at OETA Presents. Blatt was interviewed by The Oklahoman for an article about the the legislature’s decision to halt the next income tax cut. Cullison’s work was used by the Muskogee Phoenix for a story about the importance of the EITC to low-income families in Oklahoma

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The Weekly Wonk: Budget cuts will hit rural Oklahoma hard, no clear plan for next year’s budget, a new OK PolicyCast, and more

by | April 16th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, 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

Executive Director David Blatt explained that state budget cuts will likely hit small towns and rural Oklahoma especially hard, and argued that fixing the state’s budget woes will require legislators to put our common interest above self-interest  in his Journal Record Column. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison contended that extending unpaid parental leave for state employees would be a good first step in modernizing Oklahoma’s family leave policies.

A new episode of OK PolicyCast provided a mid-session update on our legislative priorities. Brenda Granger, Executive Director of Oklahoma Museums Association, reminded us of the importance of the arts and culture to Oklahoma’s economy and education system. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update lamented the lack of a clear plan for next year’s state budget.

OK Policy in the News

Policy Analyst Carly Putnam was interviewed by The Oklahoman for a story about SB 478, a bill that would allow insurance companies to sell policies in Oklahoma that don’t cover all mandated benefits. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison’s analysis of HB 2132, a bill that would allow the creation of “prosperity districts” in Oklahoma was used by the Humane Society in a news piece about the issue.

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Weekly Wonk: Rainy Day Fund 101 Update, Oklahoma is not a poor state, prosperity districts would not create prosperity for all, and more

by | April 9th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, 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

Executive Director David Blatt reminded us how the Rainy Day Fund works and what it can be used for in light of recent news that the  fund currently has a balance of $0, and contended in his Journal Record column that Oklahoma is not a poor state and we can afford to invest more in our future. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update wonders if there may be longer term consequences of the recent allocation of money from the Rainy Day Fund.

Policy Analyst Carly Putnam explained that SB 548 would allow the sale in Oklahoma of insurance plans that provide almost no coverage. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison pointed out the potential dangers in the proposal to allow the creation of “Prosperity Districts” in Oklahoma.

OK Policy in the News

Outreach & Legislative Liaison Bailey Perkins was interviewed by KFOR for a story about HB 1913, and bill that would allow new high-cost loans to be offered in Oklahoma. Policy Director Gene Perry’s op-ed arguing against allowing the suspension of students as young as third grade was published in the Enid News, and Perry was quoted by Oklahoma Watch arguing against the same bill (SB 81). OK Policy’s work in opposition of HB 2132, a bill that would allow the creation of “Prosperity Districts” in Oklahoma, was acknowledged by former Attorney General Drew Edmondson in his op-ed for the Norman Transcript.

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The Weekly Wonk: SB 81 breaks Oklahoma’s obligation to educate all children, state agencies face terrible choices if the legislature fails to address the budget crisis, and more

by | April 2nd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, 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

Policy Director Gene Perry argued that Senate Bill 81, which would allow out-of-school suspensions for children as young as third grade, breaks Oklahoma’s obligation to provide all children with an education. Executive Director David Blatt reminded us that state agencies will face terrible choices if the legislature fails to address the budget crisis in his Journal Record column. 

Shay White, a social worker and advocate with Together Oklahoma and ACTION, spoke about what motivated her to get involved with policy change and what keeps her going in a new episode of OK PolicyCast. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update was hopeful that a willingness among legislators to talk about new revenue options bodes well for next year’s budget.

OK Policy in the News

OK Policy data was cited in a PBS NewsHour story covering state lawmakers’ attempts to walk back the decision by Oklahoma voters to turn drug possession charges from felonies to misdemeanors. Perry was interviewed by the Claremore Daily Progress for a story about the possibility that state budget problems could lead to a federal takeover of the state’s foster care system. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison was quoted in a Journal Record story about HB 2132, which would allow the creation of “prosperity districts” in Oklahoma with very uncertain results. Blatt was consulted by the Tulsa World for a story about the impact of immigration on the population of Tulsa County last year.

News9 covered an event facilitated by Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator Kara Joy McKee to help citizens learn more about the state budget process and ways they can get involved. Blatt was consulted by The Oklahoman for their editorial about the importance of new revenue for the state budget, and by Public News Service for an article about the budget difficulties that can result from massive tax cuts

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The Weekly Wonk: OK Policy welcomes two new additions, Republican health bill would devastate Oklahomans’ access to care, DHS may soon run out of money to care for vulnerable seniors, and more

by | March 26th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, 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, OK Policy welcomed two new additions – Courtney Cullison has been hired as a policy analyst and Dr. Susan Louise Chambers has joined the Board of Directors. In Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column, we met Beth, a self-employed woodworker who receives subsidies from Healthcare.gov to purchase health insurance and would no longer be able to afford that insurance under the proposed American Health Care Act. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam described the devastating impact the House Republican health bill would have on Oklahomans’ access to care and reported that the Oklahoma Department of Humans services may soon run out of money to pay for care of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.  

Policy Director Gene Perry shared a letter from Director of Oklahoma Department of Human Services Ed Lake discussing Oklahoma budget cut scenarios that range from “the terrible to the unthinkable”. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update explains that state legislators still have a lot of work to do to solve the state’s big budget problems this session.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt’s report that the state supplanted lottery funds was picked up by KFOR and the Tulsa World for stories about the state’s requirement to pay back the $10 million that was supplanted. The Tulsa World quoted Putnam’s work on the effects of the proposed Republican health care bill for a story about Oklahomans’ perspective on the legislation, and Putnam was interviewed by OETA for a story on the effects of that bill on health care for Oklahomans.

Blatt’s participation in a panel discussion on the minimum wage was reported by NewsOK. Blatt was also quoted by the OCCC Pioneer in a story about dangerous small loans that could be offered in Oklahoma if HB 1913 becomes law this session.

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The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers found guilty of supplanting lottery funds for schools, how proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act could affect Oklahoma, and more

by | March 19th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, 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, Executive Director David Blatt reported that lawmakers were found guilty of supplanting lottery funds for schools for the first time and explained the lawmakers will now need to allocate an additional $10.1 million to the Education Lottery Trust Fund to replace the supplanted money. Blatt pointed out the dire consequences facing Oklahoma if the legislature chooses to close the state budget gap with draconian cuts instead of new revenues in his Journal Record column. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam argued that HB 1270 is unnecessary legislation that would punish poor families and add greatly to the cost of state administration in a blog post, and discussed how the new plan from the House GOP to replace the Affordable Care Act could affect Oklahomans’ health care in a new episode of the OK PolicyCast.

In a guest post, planning director for the Yale National Initiative at the University of Tulsa Elizabeth Smith suggested that it may be time to look at lawsuits as a way to address Oklahoma’s school funding crisis. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argued at that the legislature’s timid approach to enacting teacher pay raises doesn’t bode well for schools.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt was interviewed by Public Radio Tulsa for a story about the strong hit President Trump’s proposed federal budget would have on Oklahoma. The Woodward News cited OK Policy data in an article discussing the revenue options that could close the state’s $878 million budget gap. OK Policy data on the cost of state tax credits for the wind industry compared to the oil and gas industry was cited in a Letter to the Editor of The Oklahoman.

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The Weekly Wonk: “Small loan” bill would bring high costs, the progressive case for increasing the cigarette tax, and more

by | March 12th, 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

On the OK Policy blog, Executive Director David Blatt explained how legislation creating a new kind of payday loan would push low-income families further into debt. Blatt pointed out that Oklahomans aren’t demanding new kinds of payday loans from lawmakers and wondered whose interests those lawmakers are representing in his Journal Record column. Learn more about HB 1913 and how to contact your legislators here. Policy Director Gene Perry made the progressive case for increasing the cigarette tax. 

Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman argued in favor of raising revenues in a guest blog post. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update lamented missed opportunities for criminal justice reform in the current Legislative session. 

OK Policy in the News

Blatt was quoted in a Journal Record article on HB 1913, which would create a new kind of predatory loan. This week, Mubeen Shakir cited OK Policy data in an op-ed imploring lawmakers not to further cut spending to vital public services, and the Tulsa World’s Editorial Board used our research in arguing against an income tax exemption bill

Upcoming Opportunities

We are now accepting applications for our fifth annual Summer Policy Institute (SPI). SPI brings together dozens of undergraduate and graduate students from across the state for a three and a half-day intensive policy training. The application deadline is May 26, 2017. Click here to learn more and apply

Weekly What’s That

Title I

Title I is a section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that provides federal funds to local school districts and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. Title I is meant to ensure that all children receive a high-quality education and reach proficiency on State academic achievement standards assessments. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“It’s really just a matter of common sense. Family caregivers save the state money. If they weren’t available and willing to take on these responsibilities, thousands more Oklahoma seniors would be in nursing homes at the state’s expense. . . . We urge the Oklahoma Legislature to fully fund DHS’ supplemental budget request of $42 million in support of our elders and family caregivers that rely on home and community based services such as adult day health. If the state doesn’t support them on the front end, it will likely be paying four times more to care for our elders on the back end.”

-LIFE Senior Services CEO Laura Kenny (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, Tulsa World

Wall Street is now saying what everyone in Oklahoma knows: The state’s credit is decaying because state Capitol leaders have failed to make wise fiscal choices for years.

After two years of budget failures, a succession of budget holes, and a continued reliance on one-time funding sources to keep the state solvent, S&P Global Ratings lowered the state’s general obligation bond debt rating from AA+ to AA last week. The agency also lowered its rating on the state’s appropriation debt from AA to AA-.

Numbers of the Day

  • -5.9% – Change in collections of court costs on felony cases in a sample of 9 Oklahoma district courts between 2003 and 2015. Collections of costs on civil cases rose 87.3% during the same period
  • 95,000 – Estimated unauthorized immigrant population in Oklahoma, 2014
  • -1.3% – Percentage point drop in Oklahoma’s prime-age employment to population ratio from 2015 to 2016, the third largest drop in the U.S.
  • 3.4% – Share of the Oklahoma labor force made up of unauthorized immigrants, 2014
  • -$4,642 – Average loss of tax credits to purchase insurance for Oklahoma consumers under the proposed Republican health care plan, a 62% decrease and the third biggest loss in the nation

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Are gains in black homeownership history? [Urban Institute]
  • Kansas Republicans Sour on Their Tax-Cut Experiment [The Atlantic]
  • The New Face of American Unemployment [Bloomberg]
  • Accounting for Violence: How to Increase Safety and Break Our Failed Reliance on Mass Incarceration [Vera Institute of Justice]
  • Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins [The Upshot]

The Weekly Wonk: Key takeaways from the Board of Equalization; the solution we need on criminal justice; and more

by | February 26th, 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, Executive Director David Blatt shared takeaways from the February Board of Equalization meeting on the blog and in a Facebook Live video. In his Journal Record column, Blatt argued that Legislative promises to curb tax breaks for wind production to balance the budget are unwilling to confront the tax break that’s most responsible for our budget troubles. Blatt also explained why a bill before the Legislature could clarify how various taxes affect different parts of the population. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed the politics of raising revenues, and Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler wrote that criminal justice reforms presented by the Justice Reform Tax Force could be the solution the state needs.

In a guest post, Sabine Brown described how her husband, a doctor, was virtually uninsurable prior to the Affordable Care Act because he’d had cancer as a child. On the Together OK blog, Kara Joy McKee explained how you can get involved. We shared our Oklahoma Advocacy Toolkit, including our Advocacy Alerts page, our Bill Tracker, Policy Priorities, and more. 

OK Policy in the News

This week, Rep. Perryman (D-Chickasha) cited OK Policy data in an op-ed arguing for rolling back income tax cuts. The Editorial Board of the Pryor Daily Times used OK Policy data writing in favor of criminal justice reform legislation. NewsOK used OK Policy data in a piece on oil and gas production taxation and regulation. NonDoc quoted Blatt in a roundup of predatory lending legislation. KTUL used OK Policy data discussing the effect of lottery funds on education funding. Our blog post about why the lottery didn’t fix education funding before is available here. The Enid News & Eagle cited OK Policy data when sharing the effect budget cuts on local schools

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The Weekly Wonk: Oil and gas subsidies, confronting an unequal justice system, a new podcast, and more

by | February 19th, 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, we relaunched the OK PolicyCast in an episode where Gene Perry and KJ McKee discussed all of Governor Fallin’s revenue ideas and other ideas Oklahoma Policy Institute has put forward to fix our state’s budget hole.

On the blog, David Blatt wrote about a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing that tax cut triggers are anything but fiscally responsible. He also wrote about how Oklahoma’s wind subsidies are dwarfed by subsidies to the oil and gas industry. Ryan Gentzler challenged lawmakers to confront racial disparities head-on as they reform the justice system. We featured a guest post from Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller showing that across core services, Oklahoma underspends, and Steve Lewis discussed why Governor Fallin’s budget shows how bad Oklahoma’s fiscal health has gotten.

In his Journal Record column, David Blatt checked out the state of the debate on how to get the budget back into balance. We shared advocacy alerts with ways for citizens to take action to halt the next tax cut, to strengthen working family tax credits, to curb predatory lending, and to stop excessive court fees. We participated in a press conference in support of bills that would rein in predatory lending. Over at Together Oklahoma, KJ McKee shared ways to take action while staying sane.

OK Policy in the News

The Oklahoma City Free Press covered our press conference on predatory lending reform. The Ada News cited OK Policy’s work in calling for an end to the cost trap of wasteful criminal fines and fees. The Stillwater News Press reported OK Policy’s analysis of what services are being taxed in most our our surrounding states but not in Oklahoma, in light of Governor Fallin’s new proposal to tax all services. You can see our blog post from last year about this issue here.

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