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Save the Date: Our 2019 State Budget Summit is January 24, 2019. Tickets will go on sale Monday, December 10th. 

Cutting into the bone: Impact of falling revenues starting to be felt

by | September 17th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (0)

Anyone hoping for signs that the state’s budget woes had already hit bottom found little to cheer in Tuesday’s  revenue announcement [PDF] from Treasurer Scott Meacham. August General Revenue (GR) collections came in nearly 32 percent below one year ago. As the chart below shows, this is the worst monthly performance compared to the prior year since the state fiscal crisis hit in January.

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Pleasant surprise: Oklahoma health insurance gains ground for all ages, types of coverage

by | September 15th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (0)

As we noted right after the numbers were  released, last week’s Census Bureau report on health insurance coverage provided some unexpectedly good news for Oklahoma. While the nation as a whole saw an increase in the number of uninsured, which has now reached 46.3 million, Oklahoma saw a substantial drop in both its number and rate of uninsured. Using the 2-year averages recommended by the Bureau when reporting state-level data, Oklahoma’s  uninsured rate for  persons of all ages fell from 18.3 percent in 2006-07 to 15.9 percent in 2007-08. The reported number of uninsured Oklahomans declined from 646,000 in 2006-07 to 565,000 in 2007-08. Oklahoma’s  2-year average uninsured rate now exceeds the national average by less than one percentage point (15.3 percent national to 15.9 percent Oklahoma).

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Automatic for the people: New approaches to building savings

by | September 14th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security | Comments (0)

The Obama administration recently announced a series of measures aimed at making it easier for Americans to save.  As the New York Times article on the initiative noted, the measures are all rooted in research from the field of behavioral economics:

One key finding in that research is that people are more likely to contribute to a retirement savings account, like an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, if they are enrolled automatically. Workers have usually had to sign up for the plan, something that large percentages of people either postponed or never did at all.

The Administration’s measures will:

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New national data on income, poverty and the uninsured shows recession’s initial effects

by | September 11th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Poverty & Opportunity | Comments (0)

Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage for 2008  from its Current Population Survey. You can or click here for fact sheets and links to all the data or click here to read the 72-page PDF report.

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You want insurance with that? Fast food chain covers its employees and helps its bottom line

by | September 10th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (0)

Burgerville, a small fast-food chain in the Pacific Northwest, has always made a killer fresh blackberry shake. Recently, it also made a shrewd business move: providing health insurance for employees. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the genesis and results of this new strategy.

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Better Served: States are encouraged to broaden sales tax base

by | September 9th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (0)

Should states be looking at broadening their sales tax bases to cover more currently untaxed services? That is the argument made in a recent paper by Michael Mazerov of  the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Most states could improve their sales taxes and their tax systems in general with some expansion of the tax base to include services. Levying sales taxes on services makes state tax systems fairer, more stable, more economically neutral, and easier to administer. Moreover, because state sales taxes are a major source of funding for schools, universities, health care, public safety, and other functions of state and local government, adding services to state sales tax bases can help states maintain their support for those functions, for instance during an economic downturn when state revenues are declining.

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Non-profits and advocates gather to size up budget situation

by | September 8th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Budget | Comments (0)

Last week, OK Policy convened a meeting of over 30 representatives of non-profit and advocacy organizations to discuss the state’s budget situation. We begin with a presentation on budget trends and outlooks, which can be viewed on our website; the meeting then turned to a discussion of the impact of the budget crisis on the organizations’  programs and clients, and what can be done about it.

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Summer re-run: Domestic violence programs provide shelter from the storm

by | September 4th, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Children and Families, Stimulus | Comments (0)

Note: Occasionally we are re-running blog posts on topical subjects that you may have missed the first time around. Last week, the Tulsa World reported that DVIS (Domestic Violence Interventions Services) of Tulsa has been awarded a $426,335 grant from violence prevention funds that were part of the federal stimulus bill to assist clients with emergency needs. In June we ran this blog post about the important role of federal stimulus funds for domestic violence shelters facing increased demands for services from families in distress:

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Taking on tax incentives

by | September 3rd, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (1)

In a recent post on our blog, Paul Shinn looked at state tax incentives and made the case for holding them to the same standards of accountability as direct government spending programs.  In the new blog at Tax.com, David Brunori, who is among the most knowledgeable and sharpest tax policy experts in the nation, pulls no punches in taking aim at the bidding wars that often break out between states hoping to attract or retain manufacturing facilities. In this case, he’s discussing the competition between Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee to lure Harley-Davidson to open a motorcycle assembly plant in their states. Brunori writes:

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Uninsured Oklahomans remain a problem we should take seriously

by | September 2nd, 2009 | Posted in Blog, Healthcare | Comments (0)

The News on 6 in Tulsa reported last week on Oklahomans who lack health insurance. OK Policy’s David Blatt was featured in the story, available here in both print and video, describing who is likely to be uninsured and explaining how care for the uninsured drives up premium costs for everybody.

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