Skip to Content

Tickets for our 6th Annual State Budget Summit are on sale now! Early-bird pricing available through January 11th.

All articles by Gene Perry

In The Know: Stitt’s inner circle; jobs for Oklahomans with disabilities; helping trauma-exposed kids…

by | November 26th, 2018 | 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.

In The Know will be off for the rest of the week as we attend a conference. It will return next Monday.

In The News

Stitt’s orbit: The outsider’s inner circle: It was October 2017, and with the general election more than a year away, Stitt had launched his bid for governor as a political nobody, an unknown name even to a person like Donelle Harder, who had worked for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and recently moved to Oklahoma to work for the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. A few weeks later Harder joined a campaign that was mostly made up of Stitt’s family and friends, an orbit of political outsiders who remain by his side today and likely will play a significant role in how the governor-elect chooses to shape policy and tackle some of the state’s biggest challenges. [NewsOK 🔒]

Stitt Transition Chair Steps Down From Controversial Christian Group: Marc Nuttle Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt’s pick to lead his transition team is facing heat for his connection to a Christian nonprofit organization that has been accused of making disparaging comments about Muslims, gays and liberal. [Oklahoma Watch]

Retired Oklahoma Supreme Court justice to help with Stitt transition: Retired Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Taylor, of McAlester, is taking on a new role.Oklahoma Governor-Elect Kevin Stitt has asked Taylor to join his gubernatorial transition team. Taylor has been tapped by the Republican governor-elect to oversee Stitt’s public safety policy committee. [Stillwater News-Press]

continue reading In The Know: Stitt’s inner circle; jobs for Oklahomans with disabilities; helping trauma-exposed kids…

OKPolicyCast 41: Fair Wages and Overtime for State Workers (with Sterling Zearley)

by | November 13th, 2018 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (2)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry and produced by Gene Perry and Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

 Today our guest is Sterling Zearley, who leads the Oklahoma Public Employees Association. OPEA represents thousands of state workers, including everyone from child welfare caseworkers to transportation engineers, corrections officers, mental health counselors, and more. In recent years in Oklahoma, teachers have gotten the most attention to their stagnant or falling pay and rising class sizes. Many state workers have faced very similar issues, as they try to do jobs that may be less visible than teachers but are still very important.

Now as Oklahoma approaches next year’s legislative session with a new governor and many brand new legislators, I spoke with Sterling about what are the biggest issues for state workers right now and what OPEA hopes to accomplish in next year’s session. It’s a conversation about many problems that deserve more attention in Oklahoma.

You can download the episode here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

More work needed to count all Oklahoma kids in the 2020 Census

by | November 8th, 2018 | Posted in Children and Families | Comments (0)

At OK Policy, we often use Census numbers to understand what’s happening with Oklahoma’s people and economy. But the Census is so much more than just a convenient tool for policy analysis. Data from the Census is essential for deciding the distribution of billions of dollars in federal grants, for helping private businesses make decisions about where to locate and expand, for helping non-profits and public agencies target programs where they’re needed most, and for making sure Americans have fair voting representation in state and national elections.

For all of these reasons, it’s essential that Oklahomans are accurately counted in the 2020 Census. Unfortunately, Oklahoma contains many of the hardest to count Census tracts in the nation — areas where about one-quarter or more of households did not mail back their 2010 Census questionnaire. In particular, young children under 5, who by estimates are about 7 percent of Oklahoma’s population, are undercounted at a higher rate than any other age group.

continue reading More work needed to count all Oklahoma kids in the 2020 Census

Stand against fear. Make an informed vote.

by | October 30th, 2018 | Posted in Elections | Comments (0)

Events of the last week have shaken all of us at Oklahoma Policy Institute, as they have many Oklahomans. Terrible violence based on hatred of another person’s race, religion, or ethnicity has existed throughout our country’s history, but so have courageous people coming together to stand against it.

While we mourn the victims in Pittsburgh and Kentucky and worry for the refugees seeking escape from violence and poverty in other nations, we are also proud to join with all of the Oklahomans, Americans, and human beings working every day to overcome hatred and make a better world.

When such tragedies occur, it is the responsibility of all of us who value diversity and believe in reconciliation to make ourselves heard even louder. In the local, state, and national elections happening next week, we have an opportunity to do this.

Early voting at County Election Boards begins this Thursday and Friday from 8am to 6pm and Saturday from 9am to 2pm. Then all polling places statewide will be open next Tuesday, November 6th from 7am to 7pm.

Besides races for Congress, Governor, other statewide offices, and the Legislature, Oklahomans will vote on several judicial elections, district attorney races, and local offices. There are also five state questions on the ballot on issues ranging from optometry to school funding.

To help you get more information on how to vote and what you need to know about the state questions, we’ve compiled resources on our 2018 State Questions and Elections page. There you will find links to locate your polling place, fact sheets on each of the state questions, information about judicial races and links to much more.

Thank you for being an informed voter and an engaged Oklahoman. Feel free to share this information with anyone who could use it.

OKPolicyCast 40: In prison for what’s now a misdemeanor (with Damion Shade and Colleen McCarty)

by | October 30th, 2018 | Posted in Criminal Justice, Podcast | Comments (5)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry and produced by Gene Perry and Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

In 2016, Oklahomans voted to approve State Question 780, which changed simple drug possession crimes and low-level, non-violent property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. That law went into effect on July 1, 2017 and is already reshaping Oklahoma’s justice system, with many fewer Oklahomans being charged with a felony and sent to prison for drug possession.

Yet there are still thousands of Oklahomans serving long prison sentences or living with a felony record and all the serious consequences that come with it for a crime that would now be a misdemeanor. This raises a serious moral and practical question: Is it just to keep imprisoning those people when Oklahomans have clearly said that their crime should not lead to prison?

To get at this question and what might be done about it, I spoke with OK Policy’s criminal justice analyst Damion Shade, as well as Colleen McCarty, a law student and intern with Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform’s commutation campaign, which is advocating to commute the sentences of some of those Oklahomans most dramatically affected by felony possession charges before SQ 780.

You can download the podcast here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

New analysis: Low-income taxpayers in Oklahoma pay more than twice the tax rate paid by the richest Oklahomans

by | October 17th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (1)

While Oklahoma has a reputation as a low tax state, poor and middle-income Oklahomans are actually paying a greater share of their income in taxes than the national average, while the richest 5 percent of households — with annual incomes of $194,500 or more — pay less.

That’s why Oklahoma ranks among the ten worst states for tax inequality in the newly updated Who Pays report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). The analysis evaluates major state and local taxes, including personal and corporate income taxes, property taxes, sales and other excise taxes. It finds that the poorest Oklahoma households pay 2.1 times as much of their incomes in taxes as the wealthiest 1 percent, and the middle 60 percent of households pay 1.7 times as much as the wealthiest. The poorest 20 percent of households pay the 5th highest taxes as a share of their incomes — 13.4 percent — in the country. You can read the full Who Pays report at www.whopays.org and see the fact sheet for Oklahoma here.

continue reading New analysis: Low-income taxpayers in Oklahoma pay more than twice the tax rate paid by the richest Oklahomans

OKPolicyCast 39: Bad Voter, Good Voter (with David Glover)

by | October 16th, 2018 | Posted in Elections, Podcast | Comments (0)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry and produced by Gene Perry and Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

In recent years, Oklahoma has seen some of the lowest voter turnout in the nation. Turnout was well below the nation in the 2012 and 2016 presidential races. In our last governor’s race in 2014, Oklahoma had the fewest votes cast for governor going back to 1978. But that wasn’t always true in Oklahoma. For decades before the 2010s, Oklahomans voted at rates near or above the national average.

Then in June elections this year, Oklahomans showed up at unprecedented levels for a primary race. Will that energy continue, or will it die back down now that marijuana is not longer on the ballot?

To get at some of these questions about what influences voter turnout, I spoke to David Glover, the founder of the website badvoter.org. At badvoter.org, you can look up all the information you need to get registered to vote, vote by mail, or find your polling place. And, as we’ll discuss, you can also look up the recent voting history of your friends and family to see who’s a good voter or a bad voter.

You can find more information about the upcoming Oklahoma elections, state questions, and how to vote at okpolicy.org/okvotes.

You can download the episode here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

OKPolicyCast 38: All The State Questions (with David Blatt and Carly Putnam)

by | October 2nd, 2018 | Posted in Elections, Podcast | Comments (1)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry with production help from Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

On November 6, besides voting for a new governor and several other state offices, Oklahoma voters will decide five state questions on topics from optometry to school funding. To help you make informed choices on these state questions, OK Policy has already released fact sheets for each one with background information and a summary of arguments made by both supporters and opponents. To add to this resource, today I spoke with OK Policy’s Executive Director David Blatt and Policy Director Carly Putnam to discuss what each of the five state questions on the ballot mean and what people are saying about them. This conversation will be one of the easiest ways for you to quickly get up to speed before election day.

You can download the episode here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

Oklahoma missing opportunities to give young adult parents and their kids a boost

by | September 25th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Children and Families, Financial Security | Comments (0)

The first years of adulthood are a crucial time in anyone’s life. Many Oklahomans ages 18 to 24 are taking their first steps toward independence, whether they’re in college or just entering the workforce. These are also key years for brain development and learning critical decision-making skills. When these young people are also new parents of young children, these two most sensitive stages in development coincide. By targeting investment and support to families at this stage of their lives, we have an opportunity to strengthen multiple generations of Oklahomans.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s 62,000 young adult parents face hurdles to support their children and fulfill their own potential, according to Opening Doors for Young Parents, the latest KIDS COUNT® policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The fifty-state report reveals that, at 18 percent, Oklahoma is well above the national average (10 percent) of residents age 18 to 24 who are also parents. These families have limited access to opportunities to advance their education and find family-sustaining jobs.

continue reading Oklahoma missing opportunities to give young adult parents and their kids a boost

OKPolicyCast 37: Together Oklahoma (with Sabine Brown)

by | September 18th, 2018 | Posted in Podcast | Comments (0)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry with production help from Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

Sabine Brown

In this episode, I spoke with Sabine Brown, who is the outreach and advocacy coordinator for Oklahoma Policy Institute. Through that work, Sabine heads up Together Oklahoma, a grassroots coalition with chapters across the state of people joining with their neighbors to advocate for better public policy. We talked about how Sabine got into this work, and how many others have become members and leaders of Together Oklahoma without having a lot of prior experience working on state policy or advocacy. It’s a very useful conversation for anyone who may be a frequent follower of OK Policy’s information but now wants to know what you can do with it.

You can download the episode here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 140