In The Know: Dept. of Human Services announced new director

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that OKDHS hired a new director, retired deputy commissioner of the Tennessee human services agency, Edward Lake.  The Attorney General issued the first of about 100 checks from a mortgage settlement fund.  Oklahoma was the only state whose AG passed on the multi-billion dollar national settlement with mortgage lenders, negotiating a separate $18.6 million deal.  The average award per state in the nationwide settlement was $51.8 million.

Governor Fallin is travelling in Europe promoting investment and economic development in the state.  The OK Policy Blog found common education’s slice of the appropriations’ pie is shrinking. Some school districts are now so poorly funded that they have to issue bonds and borrow money to buy textbooks, and State Questions 758 and 766 could have serious implications for struggling districts.  Click here for OK Policy’s 2012 State Questions page.

In today’s Policy Note,  Oklahoma was one of five states recognized by the Urban Institute for innovative initiatives to improve the quality and efficiency of Medicaid.  The Number of the Day is the percentage year-to-date increase in residential building permitting in Oklahoma.

In The News

New DHS director seeks to upgrade agency’s image

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has a new director.   Ed Lake, a retired deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services, accepted the job Monday.   “It’s that combination of some anxiety and also some excitement about the challenge and opportunities,” Lake said about why he sought the Oklahoma job after working 39 years in Tennessee’s DHS agency.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

OK Attorney General Presents Tulsans With Check In Mortgage Settlement

The check is in the mail—that’s the word from the state’s Attorney General’s office. The money is going to more than 100 Oklahomans, who were forced into foreclosure during the economic crisis in 2008.  Attorney General Scott Pruitt said checks will be mailed every week until the end of January.  But Monday, a Tulsa couple was one of the first to get their money.  “This is a $20,000 check from the Oklahoma Mortgage Settlement fund to assist you as you go forward, Pruitt.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

Mortgage victims receive funds

A Tulsa couple who lost their house get $20,0O0 from the state’s settlement.

A Tulsa couple on Monday received the first payment from the Oklahoma Mortgage Settlement Fund.  Zach and Melissa Zuniga accepted the $20,000, saying it will help them get back on their feet after they got the runaround from their bank when they tried to modify their mortgage. The bank, which the Zunigas did not identify, ultimately foreclosed on the home, which had been in the family for 23 years.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Where Are the Foreclosure Deal Millions Going in Your State?

As part of the mortgage settlement finalized in April, 2012, the five biggest banks agreed to pay $2.5 billion to 49 states and the District of Columbia. ProPublica contacted every state to determine whether the money will be going to consumer-focused efforts related to the settlement or not. See below for a breakdown of each state’s share.

Read more from ProPublica at

Governor Fallin, Mayor Bartlett In Europe On Trade Mission

Governor Mary Fallin and Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett are in Europe for an economic development trip this week.  They will travel to six countries in six days. Stops include the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.  Fallin, Bartlett and Tulsa Chamber President Mike Neal will be among 20 civil and business leaders on the trip, according to a news release from the Tulsa Metro Chamber. They have appointments lined up to visit companies who are currently doing business in the Tulsa area with the goal of growing jobs.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

Common education receiving dwindling share of state budget

This year’s state budget provided no additional dollars for common education, even as total state appropriations grew by 3.2 percent.  Over the past four years, state support for common education has fallen 11.4 percent while public school enrollment has grown by 25,000 students. In part, the decline in state education funding reflects the overall drop in state appropriations that accompanied the economic downturn and full phase-in of the tax cuts of the mid-2000s.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Depleted Enough

Oklahoma voters will have a choice in a few weeks on two ballot measures that have serious implications for school districts and the students they serve. State Question 758 would lower the amount that assessed property values can be raised from the current 5% cap to 3%. State Question 766 removes taxes from intangible property.

Read more from OKEducationTruths at

Quote of the Day

At least after that first week I’ll find out who I’m working for.  It’s just that anxious first day on the job.

Ed Lake, new director of the Department of Human Services, on a state question that could potentially make major structural changes to the department his first week on the job

Number of the Day

65.9 percent

Percentage year-to-date increase in residential building permitting in Oklahoma, compared with 2011

Source: Oklahoma Employment Security Commission

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Innovative Medicaid Initiatives to Improve Delivery and Quality of Care: A Look at Five States

A number of states have used the flexibility of the Medicaid program to develop innovative payment and delivery systems designed to coordinate and improve quality of care. This brief, based on site visits from Nov. 2009 through March 2010, highlights care coordination and related efforts in five states: Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington State. Such efforts by states to realign the provider payment and delivery systems are key to improving Medicaid and to successfully implementing coverage expansions under the health reform law.

Read more from the Urban Institute at

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