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

SQ 640 has made Oklahoma ungovernable

by | December 14th, 2017 | Posted in Taxes | Comments (0)

In March 1992, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 640. It passed by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent, but with nothing else on the ballot that day, there was very low turnout.

The total number of voters was less than one-third (32 percent) of registered voters in the state, and it was less than half (48 percent) of the number of voters who would turn out later that year for the Presidential election. For example, President Bill Clinton, who received just 34 percent of the vote in Oklahoma in 1992, still had nearly 100,000 more votes than State Question 640.

Nevertheless, the minority of Oklahoma voters who supported SQ 640 on that day has had a dramatic and long-lasting impact on our state.

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In The Know: State forced to reallocate funds despite general revenue bump

by | December 14th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, 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

State forced to reallocate funds despite general revenue bump: The state will have to draw from reserves to meet cash flow requirements this month, officials said Tuesday, despite general revenue deposits that exceeded expectations by almost 8 percent. [Tulsa World]

2016 Oklahoma Poverty Profile: Since 2008, Oklahoma’s poverty rate has been higher than the national average, and that didn’t change in 2016. In fact, the gap between Oklahoma and the nation widened a bit in the most recent years. [OK Policy]

School enrollment continues to grow despite budget crunch: Despite having less money in the budget, the Oklahoma State Department of Education says that student enrollment continues to rise. Officials say 694,816 students were enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade at the start of the school year, which is about 1,000 more than last year. [KFOR] State aid funding for schools has not kept up with enrollment [OK Policy]

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2016 Oklahoma Poverty Profile

Download the 2016 Poverty Profile as a PDF Fact Sheet

624,042 Oklahomans had incomes below the poverty level in 2016.

That’s 16.3 percent of Oklahoma’s population, or about one out of every 6 Oklahomans.

The poverty rate in Oklahoma continues to be above the national average

Since 2008, Oklahoma’s poverty rate has been higher than the national average, and that didn’t change in 2016.  In fact, the gap between Oklahoma and the nation widened a bit in the most recent years.  In 2013, Oklahoma’s poverty rate was 1 percentage point above the national average. Last year, we were 2.3 points above the national average.  In the country as a whole, the poverty rate has been declining since 2012.  But in Oklahoma, the poverty rate increased last year.

OK-US-poverty-rates

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In The Know: Supermajority requirement for tax increases could get reconsideration by voters, Oklahoma legislators say

by | December 13th, 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.

Tickets for the 2018 State Budget Summit are on sale now! Early bird pricing is available through January 12th. Click here for the full program or, to purchase tickets, click here.

Correction: A headline included in yesterday’s ITK about a data breach at the Department of Human Services mistakenly indicated that the breach occurred at the Department of Health. We regret the error.

Today In The News

Supermajority requirement for tax increases could get reconsideration by voters, Oklahoma legislators say: A legislative supermajority requirement for tax increases is the reason lawmakers must return for a second special session, Senate Majority Floor Leader Greg Treat said Tuesday. Treat, R-Oklahoma City, House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, Senate Minority Leader John Sparks, D-Norman, and House Minority Leader Elect Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs, spoke at a public affairs forum sponsored by the Oklahoma State Chamber at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City [Tulsa World]. Sen. Treat: ‘State Question 640 is the reason we’re in special session’ [NonDoc]. It’s time to revisit State Question 640 [Rep. Marcus McEntire / OK Policy].

Latest TPS pre-K study finds higher math scores, fewer students held back by seventh grade: Georgetown University’s latest research on Tulsa’s pre-kindergarten program found higher scores on state math tests and a 26 percent reduction in students being held back by seventh grade. In an article released Tuesday in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, the researchers offer the first bits of evidence that longer-term effects of the Tulsa pre-K program, while more modest than the significant advantages shown in kindergarten readiness, do not disappear by the time children hit middle school [Tulsa World].

Rape Victims at the Capitol: When pain & politics collide: Rep. Carol Bush trudged through the Capitol on the final day of the Oklahoma legislative session in May, trying to process the last-minute crisis that had threatened to derail one of her bills. “That Friday at 5 o’clock I walked out with 10 of my colleagues,” said Bush, R-Tulsa. “There were no hugs good-bye or ‘have a nice summer.’ It was, ‘Oh My God. I just want to go home. Don’t talk to me. Don’t touch me.’” [The Frontier]

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Join us for the 2018 State Budget Summit

by | December 12th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Budget, OK Policy | Comments (0)

As Oklahoma’s 2018 legislative session approaches, the state continues to struggle with huge and chronic budget shortfalls and an inability to make the critical investments needed to ensure our prosperity and well-being. We are seeing real and encouraging signs of progress towards the adoption of smarter policies, but obstacles still stand in our way.

OK Policy’s 5th Annual State Budget Summit will bring together Oklahomans with an interest in state policy issues to gain a clearer sense of our challenges and how they can be resolved.  The event will be held January 25th, 2018 at the Downtown/Medical Center Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City. Our special early-bird registration price of just $75 is available through January 12th. The cost as of January 13th is $90

Click here for the full program or, to purchase tickets, click here

The event will include an overview budget presentation by our Executive Director David Blatt, panel discussions involving leading experts on the state budget and criminal justice, and an exciting keynote speaker, Vanessa Williamson, whose talk is titled, “Why Americans Are Proud To Pay Taxes.”

A limited number of partial and full scholarships are available. Click here to apply for a scholarship by January 5th.  Legislators and other elected officials may attend the State Budget Summit free of charge by contacting the OK Policy office (918-794-3944; skantz@okpolicy.org) for a special promo code.

Our keynote speaker, Vanessa Williamson, is a Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings. She studies the politics of redistribution, with a focus on attitudes about taxation. She is the author of the new book Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes.

Williamson is also the author, with Harvard professor Theda Skocpol, of The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, which was named one of the ten best political books of the year in the New Yorker. She has testified before Congress and written for a variety of outlets including, The Atlantic, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and her hometown newspaper, the Sacramento Bee. Williamson previously served as the Policy Director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She received her Ph.D. in Government and Social Policy from Harvard University. She has a master’s degree from NYU’s Institute of French Studies, and received her B.A. in French language and literature from NYU.

The State Budget Summit offers you a unique opportunity to be better informed on the critical issues facing Oklahoma as we head into the 2018 session. Click here to register now. We look forward to seeing you on January 25th!

In The Know: How rape stays hidden in Oklahoma

by | December 12th, 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

Shadow Land: How rape stays hidden in Oklahoma: Linda Terrell was raped 30 years ago and it forever defined her life. You don’t really need to know her name. She could be anyone. Male or Female. A 5-year-old child. A 54-year-old adult. She could live in a three-bedroom brick house or an apartment in Boise City or McAlester. Guymon or Idabel. Tulsa or Oklahoma City. Or in your home. Most sexual assault survivors live in the shadows of justice as Terrell did for nearly 30 years, waiting for her rapist to be caught [The Frontier].

Legislature starts Department of Health investigation: A House of Representatives committee began an investigation Monday, when it hosted two of the state’s top executive officials to testify about financial scandal within the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Several lawmakers and other officials have criticized managers within the department for its crisis, which was discovered on a statewide level less than two months ago and has already triggered hundreds of layoffs [Journal Record].

Nobody wants to go back for a second special session. Here’s why it’s still necessary: In light of the failure of the first special session, few lawmakers are excited about a sequel. So why even bother with a second special session? Why not just wait until February and pick things back up in regular session? There are three main factors that argue for tackling the budget in a second special session [OK Policy].

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Nobody wants to go back for a second special session. Here’s why it’s still necessary.

by | December 11th, 2017 | Posted in Budget | Comments (0)

For eight long weeks this fall, Oklahoma lawmakers met in special session, trying to produce a budget agreement that would fill an immediate funding hole for three state agencies and produce a longer-term solution to continuing budget shortfalls. That attempt ended with disappointment, frustration, and angry recriminations, after legislators failed to approve permanent new revenues and Governor Fallin mostly vetoed their cash-and-cuts budget.

In light of the failure of the first special session, few lawmakers are excited about a sequel. Still, Governor Fallin has called a second special session to begin on December 18th — a time that conflicts with holidays and vacations and bumps up against the regular 2018 session that begins February 5th. During this time, lawmakers and legislative staff are busy drafting and preparing to introduce the more than 2,000 bills and resolutions that are typically filed each session.

So why even bother with a second special session? Why not just wait until February and pick things back up in regular session? There are three main factors that argue for tackling the budget in a second special session.

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In The Know: Federal takeover feared for underfunded corrections system

by | December 11th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, 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

Federal takeover feared for underfunded corrections system: Cash-strapped lawmakers now face a mounting tab to fund necessary repairs and improvements they’ve been delaying for years. If lawmakers can’t find an extra $1 billion in funding, officials say the safety of inmates and guards remains at risk. And the state’s correction infrastructure will continue to crumble, jeopardizing public safety. [CNHI] Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy]

Cutting into roads and bridges: In 2006, the County Improve­ments for Roads and Bridges program was established to help address needs, but recent action by Gov. Mary Fallin involves diverting $130 million from the fund — a move officials say will impact roads and bridges in Garfield County and across the state. [Enid News

State Department of Health to lay off employees: Dozens of employees at the Oklahoma State Department of Health were handed their walking papers Friday. According to a statement released by the department Friday afternoon, “The 37 positions eliminated today include unclassified employees at both the OSDH central office as well as county health departments across the state.” [Fox25]

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The Weekly Wonk: Nothing to celebrate in the GOP tax plan

by | December 8th, 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.

Still shopping for holiday gifts?  We can help with that! Visit our online shop for t-shirts, or check out our Holiday Gift Guide (entirely books, of course). 

This Week from OK Policy

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column says there is nothing to celebrate in the GOP tax bill that seems likely to pass – it’s bad for the middle class, the deficit, and those who use federal services from student loans to public assistance programs. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update kicks of the 2018 legislative process in Oklahoma – the deadline to request the drafting of a bill has come and other deadlines will soon follow. A guest post by Senator Ron Sharp (R-Shawnee) argues that “non-instructional” spending in common education is not waste – pay for counselors, custodians, librarians, and bus drivers is classified as non-instructional, but these individuals are important pieces of the educational system.

Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler worried that rural jails could be left behind as Oklahoma and Tulsa counties begin large-scale projects to study and address their problems. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison argued that not requiring employers to provide paid sick leave for workers is costly mistake.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to Politico about the political dynamics in Oklahoma surrounding the Tar Creek Superfund site. Policy Director Gene Perry was interviewed by Ozy for a piece about the economic impact of immigrants in the Oklahoma panhandle. OK Policy data was used by the Tahlequah Daily Press in their analysis of the GOP tax plan.

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The 2018 legislative process has begun (Capitol Update)

by | December 8th, 2017 | Posted in Capitol Updates | Comments (1)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

Today is the deadline to make a request for drafting of a bill to be introduced in the next legislative session. For those actively involved, including members of the Legislature, the governor, state agencies, schools, interest groups, businesses and others, this means the 2018 legislative process has begun.

This first deadline will be followed quickly by a series of deadlines, including the dates for introduction of a measure, getting the bill out of committee, and passing it on the floor. Then the same procedure in the opposite chamber will have deadlines. Finally, conference committee reports will have to be filed by a certain date, and the legislature itself has a deadline of the last Friday in May to complete its work. Once the process starts everyone involved must “buckle up” because the process moves at a steep pace.

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