In 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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today on In The Know, the reviews come in on Gov. Fallin’s budget proposal. OK Policy Director David Blatt shared his take with NewsOK and the Associated Press, as well as on the OK Policy Blog.
Oklahoma Watch profiles women who have been through the drug court system and how it can help to keep some women out of prison. NewsOK previews the nearly 30 immigration bills filed for this session. The Tulsa Metro Chamber puts a hospital provider fee, which would enable hospitals to receive more federal matching funds for Medicaid, at the top of its legislative wish list. Oklahoma foster parent recruitment is lagging severely behind our needs, and statistics from the YWCA say dating violence among Oklahoma ninth-graders is more than three times the national average.
NewsOK looks at how out-of-date technology played a role in the controversy over former Superintendent Garrett’s deleted e-mails.
Wayne Greene at the Tulsa World gives an overview of the 77 bills filed this session that would change the state constitution.
More below the jump.
In The News
Fallin’s budget gets overall good review by fiscal policy analysts
Deeper spending cuts for Oklahoma may be necessary if proposals don’t win legislative approval or proposed savings don’t materialize, experts say. Gov. Mary Fallin deserves credit for looking for ways other than just slashing state agency budgets to deal with an anticipated $600 million budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, two fiscal policy analysts say. But both, who work for nonprofit groups with different spending philosophies, say it’s likely anticipated savings by sharing costs or consolidating agencies may be less than expected, which could result in either steeper budget cuts or looking for additional one-time funds.
Read more from this NewsOK article at http://newsok.com/fallins-budget-gets-overall-good-review-by-fiscal-policy-analysts/article/3540453.
See also: Fallin’s ideas designed to soften Oklahoma budget cuts from the Associated Press; Fallin’s consolidation plan gets mixed reviews from The Tulsa World
Drugs land many women in prison; drug courts a way out for some
Emily Linville grew up hearing how to illegally call in a drug prescription. It was that knowledge that landed her, a sister and their mother in Tulsa County’s Drug Court at the same time. But, only Linville has graduated from Drug Court. Her sister, Mary Beth Linville, 25, violated program rules and was sent to prison in January to serve four years for prescription drug fraud and bogus checks. Their mother, Mary Kathleen Linville, 52, was charged Dec. 16 with four counts on attempting to obtain prescription drugs by fraud. … Drug-related offenses account for about 12 percent of arrests among females in Oklahoma, while about 50 percent of women in prison are there on drug-related convictions, according to federal and state crime data.
See more from this Oklahoma Watch article at http://www.oklahomawatch.org/story.php?sid=23.
See also: Drug courts lower recidivism rates from Oklahoma Watch
Immigration poised to be a heated issue in Oklahoma legislature
Immigration is poised to be a heated issue this year with Oklahoma lawmakers proposing nearly 30 bills ranging from restricting property rights of noncitizens to requiring school officials know the legal status of students. An analysis by The Oklahoman of bills filed shows a number of education and law enforcement issues relating to undocumented immigrants. Lawmakers also have formed a joint committee to tackle the subject. “The committee will look at all of Oklahoma’s policies and consider ideas that will benefit our state,” said Jarred Brejka, spokesman for Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.
Read more from this NewsOK article at http://newsok.com/immigration-poised-to-be-a-heated-issue-in-oklahoma-legislature/article/3540744.
Hospital funding at top of chamber’s legislative priorities list
Health-care funding and the financing of municipal government topped the list of legislative priorities announced Friday by the Tulsa Metro Chamber and its 37 regional partners. The so-called OneVoice alliance has been effective in recent years at lobbying the Legislature and the state’s congressional delegation. Past priorities have included saving the Oklahoma State University Medical Center and completion of the Gilcrease Expressway. The top legislative priority for 2011 is implementation of what is now being called a Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program, but that appears to be similar to what in the past has been known as a hospital provider fee. A number of general hospitals, including those in Tulsa, for years have asked the state to institute a mechanism whereby the hospitals pay into a fund that would be used to capture additional federal Medicaid matching funds.
Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=16&articleid=20110211_11_0_Health881686.
Foster parent recruitment in Oklahoma lags behind state need
Angi Garner met her son for the first time when he was 2 weeks old, a tiny baby who had survived prenatal drug exposure and a tumultuous life already. “I just picked him up and held him,” she said. “And that’s where he’s been every since.” Garner decided to become a foster mother for the same reason most foster parents do: a friend suggested it. Oklahoma officials say peer recruiting is the top reason most foster parents look into the idea. But demand still outweighs supply for foster parents in Oklahoma. The state Department of Human Services is working to better recruit and retain foster parents, but advocates and officials say they still battle inadequate funding and social stigmas.
Read more from this NewsOK article at http://newsok.com/foster-parent-recruitment-in-oklahoma-lags-behind-state-need/article/3540742.
Oklahoma ranks high on dating violence among high school students
The rate of dating violence among Oklahoma ninth-graders is more than three times the national average, at 26 percent in the state compared to 8 percent nationwide, according to statistics provided by the YWCA of Oklahoma City. In addition, nearly 20 percent of Oklahoma high school students have reported being hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. That is more than double the 9 percent of all students who report such violence nationwide. Jan Peery, chief executive officer of the YWCA of Oklahoma City, said those statistics have nothing to do with race, poverty levels or social status — such violence crosses all barriers, she said.
Read more from this NewsOK article at http://newsok.com/oklahoma-ranks-high-on-dating-violence-among-high-school-students/article/3540212.
Technology a key issue in e-mail records dispute
The idea that any one or two state employees could make the e-mail communications of a state agency head disappear isn’t just troubling. It’s ridiculous. Yet that may well be the case at the state Department of Education, where officials say the e-mails of former Superintendent Sandy Garrett were permanently deleted before she left office last month. Garrett disputes her former employee’s recollection that Garrett ordered the entire account and associated e-mails deleted. The political overtones of the controversy are inescapable. But beyond the politics, the incident highlights what top state officials have been saying for the past few years. Gov. Mary Fallin described some institutions as “outdated 8-track bureaucracies in an iPod world.”
Read more from this NewsOK editorial at http://newsok.com/technology-a-core-issue-in-e-mail-records-dispute/article/3540071.
Oklahoma legislators ready to fiddle with state Constitution
If you enjoyed last year’s general election with its 11 state questions that dealt with everything from the inalienable to the arcane, you might end up giddy with what you get in 2012. Oklahoma legislators have filed no fewer than 77 separate pieces of legislation that would result in state questions on the next general election ballot. I’ve read all the proposals, and I would guess that it would take a conscientious voter at least three hours to work through all the ballot titles if all 77 proposals make it through the legislative process.
Read more from this Tulsa World editorial at http://www.tulsaworld.com/opinion/article.aspx?subjectid=261&articleid=20110213_261_G6_Ifyoue40601.
Quote of the Day
“We shouldn’t treat any child … as a second-class citizen because they aren’t. The baby I got was a child first and in foster care second.”
–Oklahoma foster mother Angi Garner. The state has only about 3,000 foster homes with as many as 8,000 children in need of out-of-home care.
Number of the Day
Percentage of Oklahomans who were under 18 years of age, 2009
Source: US Census Bureau
States cutting jobs, hurting economic recovery
Cuts in services at the state and local level continue to act as a drag on economic growth, and will continue to do so in the coming year – unless there is a significant course correction by policymakers. Friday’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistic provides the latest evidence. BLS estimates that states, cities, counties, school districts, and other units of government cut another 12,000 jobs in December, bringing to 426,000 the number of jobs lost since August 2008. Here’s the breakdown: Local school districts have cut 154,000 education jobs since August 2008; Cities, counties, and other local governments have cut 202,000 jobs; State governments have cut 69,000 jobs.
Read more from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities at http://www.offthechartsblog.org/states-cutting-jobs-hurting-economic-recovery/.