Skip to Content

‘Neglected Oklahoma’ book release parties / Save the date for budget summit

by | October 20th, 2017 | Posted in Poverty & Opportunity, Upcoming Events | Comments (0)

We’re excited to announce the release of a new book from Oklahoma Policy Institute! Neglected Oklahoma: Voices from the Margins is a collection of nineteen essays written for the OK Policy Blog over four years by Oklahoma City writer and social justice advocate Camille Landry. Each tells the story of an individual or family struggling with the kinds of troubles that pile up for those on the margins of our society. The essays are newly annotated by OK Policy staff with facts and data that give context to the personal stories.

Join us for the OKC release party on Nov. 7th, 6:30pm, at Full Circle Bookstore (RSVP here), or the Tulsa release party on Nov. 29th, 6:30pm, at Bound for Glory Books (RSVP here). You will hear remarks from Camille Landry, enjoy snacks, mingle with OK Policy staff, and be able to purchase a signed copy. If you can’t make it to either event, you can also purchase a copy online here.

Continue Reading »

Secret votes and unwillingness to lead are prolonging Oklahoma’s budget stalemate (Capitol Update)

by | October 20th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, Capitol Updates | Comments (0)

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.

What’s going on with the special session?

I’m reliably informed that Republican House members, in their caucus meetings, have discussed and voted on 27 different budget scenarios. Of the 27 proposals, none have received more than 39 votes, and some received as low as 8 votes. What are these 27 budget proposals? We don’t know because party caucus meetings are held behind closed doors. And it has become a tradition that caucus members are in violation of some sort of honor code it they reveal what’s said in caucus. This is to allow free and open discussion among party members, the theory being that legislators will be afraid to bring up controversial, possibly unpopular, ideas if anyone outside the room finds out they did so. This is not a particularly admirable quality of the legislative psyche, but it’s a nod to reality. The real problem, however, is the caucuses taking these votes which then are accepted as the policy of the state while constituents have no way of knowing how their representative voted.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: ‘We don’t have a sentencing problem’ AG Jeff Sessions tells Oklahoma sheriffs in a rebuke of state reforms

by | October 20th, 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

‘We don’t have a sentencing problem’ AG Jeff Sessions tells Oklahoma sheriffs in a rebuke of state reforms: Critics of criminal justice reforms approved by Oklahoma voters in November spent an hour Thursday railing against them before yielding the lectern to an apparent ally in their fight: America’s top law enforcement officer. “Despite the national surge in violent crime and the record number of drug deaths over the last two years, there is a move to even lighter sentences,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a gathering of the state’s sheriffs [NewsOK]. In message to Oklahoma sheriffs, Rep. Scott Biggs praised for stopping several criminal justice reform measures [The Frontier]. Misguided budget concerns sank criminal justice reform this year, but lawmakers have another shot in 2018 [OK Policy].

Budget shortfall could send thousands of drug court participants to prison: After hearing that their jobs might disappear and that their patients could end up in prison, several Oklahoma drug court officials and mental health providers said they have no intention to stay quiet. On Thursday, they told their staff members and patients that state-funded outpatient services could disappear before year’s end. …For the patients, that could mean no more support for drug addiction recovery, and worse, a prison sentence [Journal Record]. Latest state cuts ‘catastrophic,’ Tulsa mental health professionals say [Tulsa World]. Agencies grasping for new revenue might be able to delay a $215 million budget cut until 2018, Oklahoma Speaker of the House Charles McCall declared Thursday [NewsOK]. Although the Oklahoma Legislature has convened numerous special sessions in recent decades, none has dealt with issues as sweeping and consequential as the current one [OK Policy].

Fallin’s chief of staff to oil and gas leaders: ‘Participate in a way that can help’: After Oklahoma’s two largest oil and gas industry associations sent a letter to Gov. Mary Fallin opposing gross production tax increases, the governor’s chief of staff pleaded for the industry to “be for something” and noted that Fallin has been “the biggest supporter of your industry over the last several years.” Pasted below, the late-September email from Fallin’s chief of staff, Chris Benge, was widely discussed among industry leaders [NonDoc].

Continue Reading »

New protections for payday loan borrowers are coming (if Congress will stay out of the way)

After years of research and public consultation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau this month issued a final rule to create new protections for payday loan borrowers. These new protections are a necessary and positive first step in eliminating the debt trap that so often results from high-interest, predatory loans — and nowhere more than Oklahoma, where we have the highest payday loan usage rate in the nation.

The new protections won’t close off all access to expensive loans, but they will curb the practices most likely to catch borrowers in debt traps, with mounting fees and interest charges on loans they simply cannot afford to pay back.

But we’re not out of the woods quite yet.  This new rule could face strong opposition from the predatory loan industry and from Congress, and we must continue speaking out to ensure that these protections go into effect.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: ‘Unprecedented’: Mental health advocates, state leaders prepare for the worst as mental health cuts loom

by | October 19th, 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

‘Unprecedented’: Mental health advocates, state leaders prepare for the worst as mental health cuts loom: Surrounded by dozens of representatives from across the state, including from hospitals, law enforcement and other state agencies, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services outlined budget cuts that were described as “unprecedented” and “devastating.” “This is a really difficult day for our department and for the behavioral health network across the state of Oklahoma. It is an especially difficult day for the families and individuals who rely on our life-saving services,” said Terri White, commissioner of ODMHSAS [The Frontier]. Although the Oklahoma Legislature has convened numerous special sessions in recent decades, none has dealt with issues as sweeping and consequential as the current one [OK Policy].

Rehab work camps were about to be regulated. Then a friend stepped in: For years, Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery proudly operated outside of state oversight in Oklahoma. The founders ran their Christian recovery program their way – with church, hard manual labor and little government interference. In 2013, it looked like that was about to change. After a handful of patients died in another unregulated rehab, state lawmakers introduced a bill to crack down on a wide swath of uncertified programs. Then Republican lawmaker Doug Cox stepped in [Reveal].

Oklahoma taxes are the lowest in our region, and falling: This week the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services began alerting care providers that they will have to shut down the state’s entire outpatient behavioral health system, with just a few exceptions, if lawmakers don’t find ways in special session to fill the agency’s $75 million budget hole. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is planning to cut rates paid to doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes by 9 percent — a scenario that would likely put more rural hospitals out of business at a time when pregnant women in rural Oklahoma already are being forced to travel long distances for basic care [OK Policy].

Continue Reading »

Oklahoma taxes are the lowest in our region, and falling

by | October 18th, 2017 | Posted in Taxes | Comments (1)

This week the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services began alerting care providers that they will have to shut down the state’s entire outpatient behavioral health system, with just a few exceptions, if lawmakers don’t find ways in special session to fill the agency’s $75 million budget hole. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is planning to cut rates paid to doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes by 9 percent — a scenario that would likely put more rural hospitals out of business at a time when pregnant women in rural Oklahoma already are being forced to travel long distances for basic care. Teachers are continuing to flee the state as one study found those who left Oklahoma are making on average $19,000 more per year.

With headlines like these, few can dispute that Oklahoma’s state budget is deeply deficient. The details of how Oklahoma ended up in its latest budget mess are complicated. However, the big picture reason why Oklahoma struggles year after year to fund basic services is simple — we’ve slashed our revenue base.

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Mental health providers given details of planned state funding cuts

by | October 18th, 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

Mental health providers given details of planned state funding cuts: The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services began delivering the bad news to providers on Tuesday. Meeting behind closed doors at the agency’s headquarters Tuesday afternoon, providers were told how the department plans to shed 23 percent of its budget — $75 million — beginning Dec. 1. Those plans will be made public at a 1 p.m. Wednesday news conference [Tulsa World]. If lawmakers wait until regular session to fix the budget, it will already be too late [OK Policy]. Lawmakers must use special session to fix the budget, not pass the buck [OK Policy].

Lawmakers discuss budget deal at Governor’s Mansion: The Oklahoma Capitol is closed for business, but House and Senate leadership are holding off-site budget meetings. One of the spots where those meetings have been held is the Governor’s Mansion, where lawmakers are working to come up with compromises to determine how to fill a $215 million budget hole. Some of the potential areas include raising taxes on cigarettes, gasoline, income on high earners and gross production for oil and gas [KOCO].

Is Oklahoma spending more than ever? Only if you ignore inflation: As Oklahoma’s elected officials wrestle to close a budget gap, a recent op-ed from the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs argued that tax hikes shouldn’t be part of the solution. “Why do we need to raise taxes if the government is already spending more than ever before,” the conservative think tank wrote. “State government spending is at an all-time high. The state is on track to spend more in this fiscal year — more than $17.9 billion — than at any time in state history.” Where does the state money go? [Politifact] Two big myths that distort Oklahoma’s education funding debate [OK Policy].

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Oklahoma cuts funding for child abuse prevention due to budget crunch

by | October 17th, 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

Oklahoma cuts funding for child abuse prevention due to budget crunch: Because of the state’s budget crunch, at-risk children in Oklahoma could lose access to services that try to reduce the odds they will be abused or neglected. The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Monday it will cut funding for nine child abuse prevention programs and 25 community health centers as of Nov. 15. The state faces a $215 million budget gap this year after the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax. About one-third of the budget for the home visiting program in Oklahoma County, which serves about 75 families, will be lost, said Sherry Fair, executive director of Parent Promise [NewsOK]. Child abuse prevention and at-home care for seniors are latest services at risk due to shrinking state government [OK Policy].

State Health Department cuts funding to local social service agencies: The tourniquet tightened a little more on Tulsa social services agencies Monday as the Oklahoma Department of Health cancelled contracts with Morton Comprehensive Health Services and the Parent Child Center of Tulsa. The cancellations were part of a larger move by the Health Department to trim $3 million from its budget. The department has already notified staff of furloughs and layoffs to cope with state government’s financial straits [Tulsa World]. 

ACLU wants to talk to work camp participants after allegations of abuse: American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in Arkansas and Oklahoma are investigating reports of abuse at the Jay-based work camp Christian Alcoholics and Addicts in Recovery, or CAAIR. The Oklahoman first reported earlier this month on Oklahoma courts sending drug-addicted defendants to work gutting chickens for the Arkansas-based company Simmons Foods Inc. through CAAIR and a similar program in Tahlequah called the DARP Foundation. Clients in the CAAIR and DARP programs work at the poultry plants in exchange for room and board and a chance to avoid prison [NewsOK].

Continue Reading »

In The Know: Gov. Fallin disappointed in lack of progress made during special session

by | October 16th, 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

Gov. Fallin disappointed in lack of progress made during special session: Governor Mary Fallin says she is disappointed in the lack of progress made on the state’s budget during the special session. Lawmakers only briefly met at the State Capitol three weeks ago when the special session convened to fill a $215 million hole in the state’s budget before going in to recess to meet behind the scenes. [Fox25] Gov. Fallin calling on both parties to compromise [KFOR] Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy]

‘Disappointed’: Wallace, Fallin, Doerflinger trade criticisms: Call it the nature of the beast, but elected officials are rarely as candid in their press releases as they are behind closed doors. With that in mind, dueling “disappointed” pronouncements Friday afternoon from House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) and Gov. Mary Fallin underscore growing tension at the Oklahoma State Capitol. [NonDoc] What happens ‘when push comes to shove’ on the budget [OK Policy]

Health care advocates hope to avoid ‘moral crisis’: Across the state, health care officials are bracing for the worst. Without prompt legislative action, they say it will soon start to become more difficult for hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans to find doctors, receive mental health treatment or receive social services. [CNHI] Care for seniors, people with disabilities at risk as DHS grapples with budget shortfall [OK Policy]

Continue Reading »

The Weekly Wonk: A good budget deal is not “Mission Impossible”

by | October 14th, 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

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column offers some hope for the budget negotiations during special session – a good budget deal is not mission impossible. Steve Lewis’s Capitol update broke down how those negotiations have gone thus far – push has come to shove and now those in power must get something done. Blatt argues that a repeal of the capital gains tax break should be a part of any budget deal.

Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison argued that occupational licensing requirement may be keeping some low- and moderate-income Oklahomans from decent jobs – the cost of the required education for some licenses can run into the thousands of dollars. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler walked us through Oklahoma’s sprawling criminal code – it could make a felon out of almost anyone.

Special Session Updates

Although the Oklahoma Legislature has convened numerous special sessions in recent decades, none has dealt with issues as sweeping and consequential as the current one. OK Policy now has a set of Frequently Asked Questions intended to help Oklahomans understand the rules guiding the process and the issues being addressed. It will be updated regularly as the session continues. You can find our Special Session FAQs here.

Continue Reading »

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. ...
  10. 381