In 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.
Today you should know that November’s state general revenue collections were up over last year, but still fell 7.9 percent short of the projections on which the current budget is based. In Kansas, per student revenues for schools are falling short of what the Legislature promised in the most recent state budget. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses how Oklahoma can bolster state and local revenue while creating a more level playing field between Main Street businesses and online retailers.
A draft analysis found the daily cost to hold an inmate in the Tulsa Jail is more than $51.90, far more than the $27 a day the jail receives from the state Department of Corrections. Lawyers got more than a third of $280,000 in raises given to Oklahoma House of Representatives employees, with nine attorneys splitting $100,000 in raises. The extended bitter cold snap is straining the resources of homeless shelters in Oklahoma.
An estimated 1,673 Oklahomans have selected health insurance plans through the federal marketplace. An economist with the Tulsa Regional Chamber predicted more job growth in Tulsa next year and an improving national economy. Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford and Rep. Tom Cole will support a bipartisan budget deal announced yesterday, but Sen. Tom Coburn criticized the deal.
The Number of the Day is the amount of federal funds Oklahoma stands to lose every year if the state does not accept Medicaid expansion. In today’s Policy Note, the Center for American Progress makes the case for why America needs paid parental leave.
In The News
Oklahoma state revenues rise for November, but are still below projections
November’s state general revenue fund collections were up 3.8 percent over last year, but still fell 7.9 percent short of the official estimate upon which the current state budget is based, according to figures released Wednesday by the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services. Sluggish collections are expected to complicate legislative efforts to meet pay raise expectations of state employees and fully fund such things as promised improvements in the state’s child welfare system that were agreed upon as part of a settlement to a federal lawsuit.
Kansas school funding falling short of legislators’ plan
Public schools will have less money per student than the Legislature intended when making the recent state budget, unless Gov. Sam Brownback and legislators provide more money when the 2014 legislative session starts next month. That’s because the statewide property tax has produced less than expected and there are more students enrolled than expected, especially at-risk students, who require more funding. For those reasons, new fiscal estimates show, the state doesn’t have enough money to fund schools at the level set in the state budget.
Prosperity Policy: Leveling the playing field
The effort to promote fairness between Main Street businesses and online retailers and boost sagging state and local revenues for schools and other priorities received a major boost last week from the U.S. Supreme Court. It is now up to Congress or the Oklahoma Legislature to take the critical next steps. Last week, on CyberMonday, the Supreme Court chose not to hear a challenge to New York State’s so-called Amazon law, which allows the state to require online merchants with in-state affiliates to collect sales tax on all taxable sales to New York consumers.
Tulsa jail costs to house inmates keep growing
The daily cost to hold an inmate in the Tulsa Jail is more than $51.90, according to a draft analysis issued last week. Tulsa County officials and the report’s author, MGT of America Inc. of Wichita, Kan., cautioned that the daily cost figure is based on incomplete data and will be higher when the final report is issued early next year. The Sheriff’s Office has for years argued that the $27 a day it receives from the state Department of Corrections to hold inmates doesn’t come close to covering its costs.
9 lawyers split $100,000 in raises for Oklahoma House staff
Lawyers got more than a third of $280,000 in raises given to Oklahoma House of Representatives employees, according to figures provided by the House speaker’s office. Four of the five largest raises and six of the top eight went to staff attorneys, most of whom were relatively low-level - and low-paid members of the legal staff. In all, nine attorneys split $100,000 in raises.
Extended cold strains resources for serving the homeless
As bitter cold settles in for winter in much of the country’s midsection, homeless shelters are operating beyond capacity and officials are worried about the cramped quarters. A man was found dead beneath an Oklahoma City overpass last week in an area where transients are known to congregate. The Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s office said the cause and manner of death are pending, but Oklahoma City police attributed the death to the cold weather. With temperatures only slowly rebounding, homeless shelters are serving larger numbers.
Obamacare enrollment climbs in Oklahoma
Romy Owens doesn’t post in all capital letters on Facebook often. But a celebration was in order. “I HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ELEVEN YEARS!” the Oklahoma City artist wrote on Monday afternoon. And that health insurance was all of $16 a month. Owens, a 43-year-old Oklahoma City artist, is one of hundreds of Oklahomans who have selected health insurance plans through the federally run marketplace. Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30, an estimated 1,673 Oklahomans have selected health insurance plans through the federally run marketplace, according to federal government data.
Stronger Tulsa-area job growth predicted for 2014
More job growth is likely in Tulsa next year, and the national economy also should continue to improve. That’s the forecast from Tulsa Regional Chamber economist Bob Ball, who projects about 9,500 additional jobs in the metro area, up 2.2 percent over 2013. “The growth rate is accelerating, and Tulsa is poised to grow,” Ball said Wednesday. The positive news was part of the annual Economic Outlook Conference, which featured local and state economic forecasts as well as a keynote address by Jim Huntzinger, executive vice president and chief investment officer of BOK Financial Corp., Bank of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma lawmakers split on budget deal
Oklahoma lawmakers mostly withheld judgment Wednesday on a budget accord to avert another government shutdown, though at least two are expected to vote for the agreement. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, will support the bill, according to his spokeswoman. Lankford said the bill would cut the deficit even more than the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester and protect Defense Department families from “another huge cut next year.” Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, who was part of the House negotiating team, also supports the legislation. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, criticized the deal, saying it didn’t eliminate waste and fraud.
Quote of the Day
I HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ELEVEN YEARS!
-Oklahoma City artist Romy Owens, posting on Facebook after she successfully enrolled in health insurance offered under the Affordable Care Act (Source: http://bit.ly/1cDh7yg)
Number of the Day
Amount of federal funds Oklahoma stands to lose every year if the state does not accept Medicaid expansion.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund
Why America needs paid parental leave
Twenty years ago, the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, was signed into law. The FMLA granted certain workers new and important rights, including the ability to take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave after a birth or adoption, but it fell short in at least two important respects. First, the leave guaranteed under the law is unpaid, making it difficult for many covered workers to take advantage of their new rights. Second, the FMLA does not cover about 40 percent of the American workforce.
You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.