Skip to Content

Early bird registration for the 2018 State Budget Summit is now open! Get your tickets here. 

All articles by Carly Putnam

In The Know: SoonerCare providers get smaller rate cuts, but warn it’s not enough

by | December 4th, 2017 | Posted in Blog | Comments (2)

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

SoonerCare providers get smaller rate cuts, but warn it’s not enough: SoonerCare providers won’t lose as much as they had expected to, but neither they nor the state board that pays them were satisfied with going halfway. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority lost $70 million when the state Supreme Court struck down the $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax. A budget bill at the end of the special session in November restored $22.8 million for the authority, which oversees Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, called SoonerCare [NewsOK]. McCall ousts OHCA chairman [Journal Record]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy]. 

Governor Pushes For Consolidation, But School Leaders Say ‘Administration’ Isn’t Waste: Education leaders in Oklahoma say Gov. Mary Fallin’s executive order on school consolidation oversimplified a very complicated issue. The November 21 order directs school districts that don’t spend at least 60 percent of their budget on instruction to consolidate administrative staff with other districts. A strict interpretation of this rule would force most Oklahoma school districts to cut an administrator, or a support staff person, and then find a way to split that cost with a neighboring district [StateImpact Oklahoma]. Oklahoma still leads the nation for cuts to education [OK Policy]. Two big myths that distort Oklahoma’s education funding debate [OK Policy].

Can small-town Oklahoma be saved by its immigrants? When Soila Medina arrived in rural Texas County, Oklahoma, in the 1990s, the seventh-grader, daughter of two Mexican immigrants, looked around her classroom and saw hardly anybody who looked like her. That is no longer the case. The schools in Guymon, the county seat, are now 70 percent Hispanic and have expanded English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for their students, who at home speak some 27 different languages, from Armenian and Arabic to Burmese and Tagalog [OZY]. The average Oklahoman probably doesn’t know much about Texas County, OK (other than that it is next to Texas) [OK Policy].

continue reading In The Know: SoonerCare providers get smaller rate cuts, but warn it’s not enough

The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma still leads the nation for cuts to education

by | December 1st, 2017 | Posted in Blog | 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.

Due to holiday and staff travel, this is the first Weekly Wonk in two weeks, and as such, it’s a big one. 

This Week from OK Policy

 Oklahoma once again leads the nation in education cuts and Policy Director Gene Perry wrote about it. Perry also wrote that the Congressional tax plan would take  Oklahoma’s budget woes national and that the state EITC has been an unfortunate victim of the state’s budget gridlock. A new report by Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler examines options to rebuild trust between law enforcement and Oklahoma communities.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt argued that, despite appearances to the contrary, the tax debate has shifted enormously at the state Legislature. Our post responding to frequently asked questions about the special session(s) has been updated

Policy Analyst Carly Putnam described how one Oklahoma school district is using school meals to fight childhood hunger. In a World AIDS Day guest post, Andy Moore urged Oklahomans to speak up about HIV. On Black Friday, we introduced our first OK Policy Holiday Gift Guide, which is entirely books. 

OK Policy in the News

Recent Democratic wins in Oklahoma drew the attention of both The Atlantic and New York Magazine, and Blatt is quoted in both. He also spoke to NewsOK about why Senator Lankford should oppose the Congressional tax bill, defended Governor Fallin’s veto of the Legislature’s “cash and cuts” bill at the end of the first special session, disputed suggestions that lawmakers should have greater control over program spending, and weighed in on a recent downgrade of Oklahoma’s credit rating. Perry’s analysis of education funding was cited in Ben Felder’s Morning Bell blog on NewsOK. 

continue reading The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma still leads the nation for cuts to education

In The Know: Tulsa’s growing immigrant population responsible for significant economic gains, study shows

by | December 1st, 2017 | 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

Tulsa’s growing immigrant population responsible for significant economic gains, study shows: If you told Manuel Gomez 15 years ago how much of an impact Tulsa’s immigrant population would have on its economy now, he probably wouldn’t have believed you. Gomez, co-owner of local grocery chain Supermercados Morelos, is one of thousands of Tulsa immigrants contributing to the economic boost outlined in a study released Wednesday. Even now, he felt surprised while reading through the study’s documentation of the financial influence of immigrants in the Tulsa metropolitan area [Tulsa World]. Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy].

Another year goes by, and Oklahoma still leads the nation for cuts to education: Despite numerous promises by Oklahoma lawmakers that this would be the year they begin undoing K-12 education cuts and funding a desperately needed teacher raise, ultimately too many of our legislators refused to raise revenues. Unsurprisingly, a new update from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows Oklahoma continues to lead the nation for cuts to our state aid formula since before the Great Recession [OK Policy]. Two big myths that distort Oklahoma’s education funding debate [OK Policy].

Review finds more valid signatures, but teacher pay raise initiative still falls short in Oklahoma City: If they can’t reverse a ruling by the Oklahoma City clerk’s office, advocates of a local income tax for teacher pay raises will “stand up, brush ourselves off and keep fighting,” says Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid. A review this week produced 1,731 additional valid signatures on an initiative calling for a vote on the income tax proposal, but organizers of the petition drive were still short of number of signatures they needed [NewsOK].

continue reading In The Know: Tulsa’s growing immigrant population responsible for significant economic gains, study shows

In The Know: For second year, state corrections board requests more than $1 billion in state funding

by | November 29th, 2017 | 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

For second year, state corrections board requests more than $1 billion in state funding: The Oklahoma Board of Corrections on Tuesday approved a budget request of more than $1.5 billion to fund employee pay raises, two new prisons and a host of other improvements at state prison facilities. Approval of the department’s requested fiscal year 2019 budget, which is more than a billion dollars higher than the $485 million appropriated by the Legislature for this fiscal year, comes as Gov. Mary Fallin’s office prepares to call a second special Legislative session to fill this fiscal year’s budget hole [The Frontier]. Oklahoma’s prisons are still on a path to disaster [OK Policy].

‘Lagging uncertainty’ wreaking havoc with health care: The Oklahoma Legislature’s failure to pass a long-term, sustainable budget is making it difficult for doctors, hospitals and nursing homes, medical advocates say. Without a legislative plan to fund Medicaid, health care providers are now bracing for the latest round of proposed reimbursement rate reductions slated to take effect Jan. 1. The state’s Health Care Authority, which runs the Medicaid program, is eyeing 6 percent cuts to what it pays physicians and hospitals. Nursing homes face 1 percent cuts [CNHI].

‘Sometimes you’ve got to be a little extreme’: Grimes teachers get school supplies thanks to ‘panhandling’ colleague: A Tulsa woman known as the “Panhandling Teacher” donated $3,000 in school supplies to her colleagues at Grimes Elementary School on Tuesday, a small part of the money she has raised since her cause went viral on social media. Last July, third-grade Grimes teacher Teresa Danks stood on 193rd East Avenue with a sign that read: “Teacher Needs School Supplies, Anything Helps.” The response was immediate and positive [Tulsa World]. However you count it, Oklahoma’s per pupil education funding is way down [OK Policy]. 

continue reading In The Know: For second year, state corrections board requests more than $1 billion in state funding

Introducing the 2017 OK Policy Holiday Gift Guide

by | November 24th, 2017 | Posted in Watch This | Comments (4)

We have something to confess upfront: this gift guide is entirely books. We’re nerds (also, the jury’s still out on which smart watch we like best). Here at OK Policy, the annual holiday book exchange is a hotly anticipated tradition, and we’re excited to share the cheer with you this year!

The 27 books below are a brief and curated – if hopelessly incomplete – list of books we love that might not otherwise be on your radar. No staff members were (physically) wounded in the debates on which titles should be on or off the list! We’ve included links to books at Amazon and Powell’s, as well as ISBN numbers so you can order them at a bookseller of your choosing. Please support your local independent bookseller when possible; if you order off Amazon, consider using Amazon Smile to support OK Policy in the process. Please also don’t forget to check your local library! Titles are listed alphabetically by author’s last name. 

continue reading Introducing the 2017 OK Policy Holiday Gift Guide

This district is all-in on school meals

by | November 20th, 2017 | Posted in Education, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (1)

It’s a tough time to be an educator in Oklahoma. Between low teacher pay, stretched support staff, and the deepest per pupil funding cuts in the country, there’s little wonder morale is low. At the same time, Oklahoma’s already-high poverty rate ticked up this year, and more than one in four Oklahoma kids are at risk of hunger. But a rare bright spot for Oklahoma schools is the opportunity to combat child hunger through their nutrition programs, and one district in southeastern Oklahoma has gone all in.

Jason Lindley is the superintendent of Hartshorne Public Schools, a three-school district a few miles east of McAlester. Lindley found that with a combination of programs, Hartshorne could ensure three meals a day for all students. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows districts like Hartshorne to serve breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge, and moving breakfast into the classroom maximizes participation in the first meal of the day. Serving an afterschool meal — also at no charge — ensures kids have something to eat before they go home, where food might not be available. We talked with Lindley on why Hartshorne chose these programs, how the community responded, and the effects on his district.

continue reading This district is all-in on school meals

We want you to be a spring intern!

by | November 13th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

OK Policy is now accepting student applicants for paid part-time internships during the spring of 2018! Interns have the opportunity to work as full members of the OK Policy team and participate in most activities of the organization.

Research positions are available in our Tulsa office, while a legislative advocacy position is available in our Oklahoma City office. Interns will be expected to work between 10 and 20 hours per week depending on their schedules and availability and are paid $10.50 per hour. 

Eligible students should have completed at least four semesters of college coursework or be pursuing a graduate degree. We are happy to cooperate with an institution’s requirements for academic credit.

To apply, please send a cover letter explaining your interest and qualifications, a resume or CV, and a writing sample to jobs@okpolicy.org no later than Sunday, November 26. Please include “Spring internship” in the subject line and clearly indicate in application materials whether you are interested in a research internship in the Tulsa office or a legislative advocacy internship in Oklahoma City. 

All applicants will be contacted regarding interviews by December 4.

The doomsday scenario has already begun — but it can be stopped

by | November 13th, 2017 | Posted in Healthcare | Comments (2)

Twenty-five elderly Oklahomans lost their home early last week when Wynnewood Care Center closed

After taking years of reimbursement cuts and expecting more to come, the small skilled-nursing facility in Wynnewood had to shut down and move residents into other facilities in neighboring counties. 

Then on Thursday, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) voted to cut daily reimbursements to nursing homes, residential facilities housing people with intellectual disabilities, and nursing facilities for people with AIDS by 4 percent. They also voted to cut payments to most Medicaid providers by 9 percent. Unless lawmakers pass a budget deal that fills all or most of the $70 million hole in OHCA’s budget triggered when the state Supreme Court struck down an unconstitutional cigarette tax, these cuts will take effect on December 1. 

Similarly, although state-funded in-home care isn’t scheduled to expire until December 1, thousands of Oklahomans with disabilities and their caregivers are scrambling now to find alternatives. Nearly 189,000 Oklahomans who manage mental illness and addiction through state services are in a similar boat; nearly all outpatient service are scheduled to cease on December 1. While $23 million from the Rainy Day Fund may allow them to delay those cuts for a few weeks, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services still has a $50 million budget hole to contend with.  

If lawmakers can come to an agreement in time, these cuts can be stopped — but as Wynnewood’s closure shows, a lot of damage has already been done. 

continue reading The doomsday scenario has already begun — but it can be stopped

In The Know: ACLU warns of lawsuit over planned elimination of programs for disabled, elderly

by | November 10th, 2017 | 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

ACLU warns of lawsuit over planned elimination of programs for disabled, elderly: If a state agency does not rescind notices that programs serving more than 20,000 disabled and elderly Oklahomans will be eliminated, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma will respond with a lawsuit, a spokesman told The Frontier. The ACLU of Oklahoma plans to file a preliminary injunction next week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma to try to prevent the elimination of Oklahoma Department of Human Services programs, said Brady Henderson, legal director of the organization [The Frontier]. Care for seniors, people with disabilities at risk as DHS grapples with budget shortfall [OK Policy].

Stars not quite in alignment for latest state budget bill: State Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, had a lot of angry messages waiting for him Thursday morning. O’Donnell voted against revenue-raising House Bill 1054 on Wednesday, and people wanted to know why. “It was just a constellation of factors,” he said. A black hole at the center of that constellation sucked in what may have been the last chance for a meaningful revenue bill during this special legislative session [Tulsa World]. Lawmakers should respect wishes of the majority and pass revenue deal [OK Policy]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

Day after failed vote, Oklahoma Medicaid agency cuts rates: Less than 24 hours after the Oklahoma House of Representatives failed to approve the year’s best chance at a grand revenue bill, the Oklahoma Medicaid agency has approved $34.5 million in reimbursement cuts. Payment reductions include 4 percent cuts to nursing homes and care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, as well as a 9 percent across-the-board cut for SoonerCare beneficiaries, with some exclusions [NonDoc]. Tina Seiler wept as she begged the Oklahoma Health Care Authority not cut funding for the Moore facility where she lives [NewsOK].

continue reading In The Know: ACLU warns of lawsuit over planned elimination of programs for disabled, elderly

In The Know: Big revenue bill goes down in the Oklahoma House

by | November 9th, 2017 | 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

Big revenue bill goes down in the Oklahoma House: Despite bipartisan support from the Oklahoma Senate, endorsements from two former Democratic governors, backing from Gov. Mary Fallin and pleas from dozens of advocacy organizations, the Oklahoma House of Representatives failed to pass a grand revenue bill this afternoon. Members voted 71-27 for HB 1054X, but that fell short of the 76 votes necessary for revenue-raising measures under the Oklahoma Constitution [NonDoc]. In the end, the backing of more than 45 health-care, education and public-policy advocacy groups – along with the support of a bipartisan group of current and former state leaders – wasn’t enough Wednesday [Oklahoma Watch]. Lawmakers should respect wishes of the majority and pass revenue deal [OK Policy]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

Tulsa Elderly, Disabled Fear Losing Vital Assistance With DHS Cuts: In the wake of the Oklahoma budget failing, many programs will be eliminated if lawmakers can’t find funding sources to fill the gap. Thousands of people who are part of the Department of Human Services’ ADvantage program are getting nervous as we get closer to Dec. 1. The program helps connect seniors and people with disabilities with services so they can maintain their independence [NewsOn6].

Cutting Mental Health budgets will increase jail costs: As budgets and services are cut, law enforcement agencies find themselves taking on additional roles in order to meet the needs of the communities we serve. Due to an already dire shortage of mental health services, the Tulsa County jail is now the largest mental health facility in the state of Oklahoma. The mental health services provided to our inmates are not meant for long-term treatment [Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado / Tulsa World].

continue reading In The Know: Big revenue bill goes down in the Oklahoma House

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 57