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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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The Weekly Wonk: Our Legislative priorities, the cost trap, block grants, an ebook, and more

by | February 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

This week, we released our top priorities for the 2017 Legislative session and compiled the resources you need to be ready for the 2017 session. Our online budget guide is now available as an ebook. Our statement on the Governor’s proposals at the State of the State is available here

Policy Analyst Carly Putnam explained why turning safety net programs like Medicaid and SNAP into block grants would functionally dismantle them. In a statement, Executive Director David Blatt urged Sen. Lankford to reject a measure to block fee and fraud protections on prepaid cards.

In his Journal Record column, Blatt noted that excessive fees and fines unnecessarily burden criminal defendants and are an inefficient way to fund government. Previously, a report by Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler described how excessive fees lock Oklahomans into the criminal justice system and don’t boost revenue. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argued that we should be ashamed if the Legislature doesn’t address over-incarceration this year.

A rally at the Capitol on Tuesday, February 14, will urge Legislators to reform civil asset forfeiture. We’ve previously written that New Mexico ended civil asset forfeiture abuse, and Oklahoma can, too. 

OK Policy in the News

Outreach and Legislative Liaison Bailey Perkins appeared on The Oklahoman’s Political State podcast previewing the 2017 Legislative session. Policy Director Gene Perry appeared on KTUL discussing the Governor’s proposed tax increases and spoke to the Journal Record on her proposal to eliminate the corporate income tax. KJRH discussed Gentzler’s analysis of fees, fines, and speeding tickets. The Stillwater News Press included our statement in a round-up of reactions to the State of the State, as did The Oklahoman. The Tulsa World shared information about local advocacy groups’ budgets and Boards, including ours. You can learn more about our Board here.

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The Weekly Wonk: New fees and fines report, partial progress, and more

by | February 5th, 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 released a report by Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler detailing how fees and fines trap Oklahomans in the criminal justice system without increasing state revenues. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis noted that Senate Republicans’ Legislative agenda yields little detail on how to accomplish their aims. Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column argued that if state leaders don’t consider the role income tax cuts have played in our budget crisis, they’ll only make partial progress in solving the problem.

OK Policy in the News

KOCO and KFOR reported on the press conference announcing our new fees and fines report. The Norman Transcript covered a Together Oklahoma Legislative 101 forum led by Outreach and Legislative Liaison Bailey Perkins. Learn more about getting involved with Together Oklahoma here. Writing in Mother Jones, author Rick Perlstein cited OK Policy data in an article about why a student chose to vote for President Trump. 

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The Weekly Wonk: The 2017 Legislative Primer, long-acting reversible contraceptives, and more

by | January 29th, 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 released our updated 2017 Legislative Primer, which providers information about the upcoming Legislative session in a concise, user-friendly format. We also recently updated our State Budget Guide. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam evaluated a local initiative providing education and access to highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptives and found that it had decreased Tulsa County’s teen birth rate. Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column made the cast against confirming fast food czar Andy Puzder to be Secretary of Labor. 

OK Policy in the News

In its coverage of our 2017 State Budget Summit, KWGS shared highlights of Blatt’s discussion of Oklahoma’s budget crisis and Putnam’s presentation on the threats posed by turning federal entitlement programs into block grants. OETA covered the State Budget Summit as part of a segment on the state’s budget crisis. The Editorial Board of the Enid News & Eagle quoted Blatt in their remembrances of Oklahoma journalist Frosty Troy

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The Weekly Wonk: Introducing the online budget guide, 8 facts about health care funding, and more

by | January 22nd, 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.

Upcoming Event

Tuesday is the last day to purchase tickets to our 2017 State Budget Summit! The 2017 State Budget Summit will be held on Thursday, January 26th at the Embassy Suites Oklahoma City Downtown/Medical Center. Click here for the full program or here to go directly to the registration page to purchase tickets. 

This Week from OK Policy

This week, we introduced our newly updated Online Budget Guide, a useful tool to understand Oklahoma state and local governments, particularly how they collect and spend money. A post for the Together Oklahoma #Betterok Budget Bootcamp shared 8 facts about health care funding in Oklahoma. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis discussed the thousands of new bills filed for consideration this week. Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column summarized a key takeaway from his recent interfaith trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. 

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to the Associated Press about strategies for filling Oklahoma’s budget hole. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler appeared on a KJRH segment on law enforcement opposition to criminal justice reform ballot measures that passed in November. Our fact sheet on the state questions is available here. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam appeared on a podcast/Facebook Live broadcast on possible outcomes of Affordable Care Act repeal for The Frontier. Putnam previously explained that ACA repeal plans could throw Oklahomans’ health care into chaos. 

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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

The Weekly Wonk: Medicaid marijuana won’t fix the budget, Sonya’s story as a child of incarcerated parents, and more

by | December 18th, 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.

The Weekly Wonk will be taking a break until the New Year. See you in 2017! 

If you value the in-depth research and analysis highlighted in The Weekly Wonk, why not make a supporting contribution? Your generous support gives us the capacity to inform and advocate on critical issues. You can make a year-end tax-deductible donation here.

This Week from OK Policy

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler argued that medical marijuana won’t solve Oklahoma’s budget problems. Intern Chelsea Fiedler told the story of a young women who grew up with incarcerated parents. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt warned of further triggered tax cuts. Last year, he explained how a triggered tax cut took effect the week after a revenue failure prompted across-the-board budget cuts. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update introduced the new House leadership team

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Gene Perry spoke to NewsOK about how laws aimed at undocumented immigrants can affect their American-born children. The Tax Justice Blog highlighted an OK Policy blog post by Blatt on ill-timed income tax cuts. KNWA covered the Northwest Arkansas Pre-Legislative Summit organized by Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, where Blatt warned Arkansas against following Oklahoma’s fiscal path in the keynote address. 

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