In The Know: Federal budget cuts could affect Oklahoma Health Department

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. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that the Oklahoma Health Department could see significant cuts in the federal funds it receives, which provide 60 percent of its budget. OK Policy previously discussed what the coming federal budget cuts could mean for many programs in Oklahoma. The Belgian aerospace company bringing a plant to Stillwater said during negotiations that they valued a well-trained workforce more than financial incentives.

The state is expected to deposit $306.8 million into the Rainy Day Fund. The full fiscal year 2012 revenue collections came in at 7.9 percent above fiscal year 2011, but the most recent month was down 7.4 percent from a year ago due to drop in revenue from gross production taxes on oil and gas. The OK Policy Blog discussed why federal intervention on Oklahoma’s health insurance exchange now looks inevitable, but state elected officials seem oblivious to this reality.

Okeducationtruths points out that politics may be preventing Oklahoma from joining Common Core Standards for science and social studies, even as we embrace the standards for reading and math.  A million-dollar federal grant to a Tulsa nonprofit will go to helping ex-felons find jobs. OK Policy previously discussed why Oklahoma’s restrictions on employment for ex-felons are counter-productive.

Chesapeake Energy was ordered to pay more than $100 million to three Texas lease holders who claimed the second-largest U.S. gas producer reneged on agreements to purchase mineral rights. Gov. Mary Fallin named Jacque Secondine Hensley of Tulsa as her Native American liaison.

The Number of the Day is the per-capita gambling revenues in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, the Center for American Progress compiled the latest and most essential facts about immigration in our nation today.


In The News

Federal budget cuts could affect Oklahoma Health Department

Although it’s too soon to know the exact details, the state Health Department could see cuts in the amount of federal funding it gets during the next budget cycle, officials said Tuesday. The state Health Department could see up to a 10 percent reduction in federal money, said State Health Commissioner Terry Cline. Congress and President Barack Obama agreed last summer to make at least $2.1 trillion in cuts to domestic spending over the next 10 years, but lawmakers have yet to specify how all of those reductions will be allocated among federal programs. About 60 percent of the state Health Department’s budget comes from federal money, meaning funding cuts could have a widespread impact.

Read more from NewsOK.

Previously: What the coming federal budget cuts could mean for Oklahoma from the OK Policy Blog


Skilled workforce key to new Stillwater plant

Meridian Technology Center’s ability to train industrial workers probably did more to sway a Belgian aircraft component designer and manufacturer to locate in Stillwater than federal and state tax incentives. State Rep. Cory Williams said Monday ASCO Industries officials said they valued a well-trained workforce more than financial incentives during negotiations to bring the industry to Stillwater. ASCO Industries bought the former MerCruiser plant on Perkins Road. The privately owned aerospace company will renovate the 715,000 square-foot facility and eventually employ 500 to 600 people. It is ASCO’s first production facility in the United States. The Stillwater subsidiary will be called ASCO Aerospace. Oklahoma’s Department of Careers and Technology (CareerTech) through its Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater provides training support for several Stillwater industries, including Armstrong flooring.

Read more from the Stillwater NewsPress.


Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund to get $300 million increase

Oklahoma will deposit the largest amount ever in its “rainy day” fund within the next few days, the Office of State Finance announced Tuesday. The state is expected to deposit $306.8 million into the fund, Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger said. Tuesday’s news brings the total to $556 million. Before the recession, the fund contained $596.6 million, which was the record. For fiscal year 2012, general revenue fund collections were slightly more than $5.5 billion – 7.9 percent above fiscal year 2011 collections. Not all the state’s economic news was good, though. In June, total general revenue fund collections brought in $560.8 million, down 7.4 percent from a year ago due to a reduction in revenue from gross production taxes.

Read more from The Tulsa World.


Step up or step aside: Looming deadline forces Oklahoma’s hand on health exchange

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the health care law, or Affordable Care Act (ACA), will soon compel even the most reluctant states to address their central responsibility under the law – state-based health insurance exchanges. Up until now, states have faced a choice between two basic options: to operate their own exchange or let the federal government operate one for them. Fourteen states have already established their exchanges and several others are well on their way in terms of planning and implementation. States have until November 16th – just four months from now – to submit a detailed blueprint of how they plan to implement and operate a compliant state-based health insurance exchange. It seems virtually certain Oklahoma will miss the November 16 deadline. If federal intervention on Oklahoma’s exchange now seems inevitable, the response from state elected officials following the Supreme Court ruling seemed oblivious to this reality.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.


Why is Oklahoma opting out of Common Core standards for science and social studies?

Some say you know people by their words. I say you know them by the inconsistencies in their words. That’s why the decision by the State Department of Education not to participate in the development of national standards in Science or Social Studies is so curious. Oklahoma participated in the development of the Common Core State Standards for literacy and math. Oklahoma has adopted them as the default standards beginning with the 2014-15 school year. The previous governor and state superintendent (Democrats) and the current governor and state superintendent (Republicans) all agree that adoption of these standards was an important reform measure. I’ve said repeatedly that of all the recently enacted changes, this is the one meeting with the least resistance from teachers and administrators. … Unfortunately, that goal – if the means to achieving it is participation in national curriculum frameworks – is undermined by inconsistent approaches driven by politics.

Read more from okeducationtruths.


Federal funds to help Tulsans with criminal records find jobs

Among the dozen or so felons hired by Lou Ann Amstutz and her husband Andy over the years, not every worker has been a model employee. But never has there been a workplace safety or theft problem, Lou Ann Amstutz said. “The majority of them are so thankful to have a job that they’re willing to go the extra mile because they’re so appreciative that you’ve taken an interest in them, period,” said Amstutz, chief executive officer and vice president of operations for Alpha Machining and Manufacturing. Ex-offenders often struggle to even get a chance to prove themselves as workers, according to local employment experts and those who help felons to find a job. A million-dollar federal grant to a Tulsa nonprofit announced in May will help tackle the problem in a state where an estimated one out of every 12 adults has a felony conviction. Amstutz said she would advise other employers to not throw out applications simply because of a criminal past.

Read more from Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Previously: Why restricting employment for ex-felons is counter-productive from the OK Policy Blog


Chesapeake told to pay $100 million over Texas gas lease claims

Chesapeake Energy Corp. was ordered to pay more than $100 million to three Texas lease holders who claimed the second-largest U.S. gas producer reneged on agreements to purchase mineral rights. The Texas energy companies sued Chesapeake in November 2008 for failing to complete the purchase of three gas leases the Oklahoma City-based producer began negotiating for in June of that year, before energy prices plunged by as much as 50 percent. The lawsuit is one of hundreds of similar claims filed in federal and state courts in Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states alleging Chesapeake breached contracts to purchase oil and gas leases.

Read more from Businessweek.


Gov. Fallin names Native American liaison

Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday named Jacque Secondine Hensley of Tulsa as her Native American liaison. The liaison advises the governor on American Indian affairs. In 2011, legislation eliminated the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission and created the executive branch position of Native American liaison. Hensley is a member of the Kaw Nation. She is currently a special agent for the U.S. Department of Defense, where she investigates fraud in military contracts and health care. Before her current job, she was a special agent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, primarily investigating child abuse cases. She also served as an adjunct professor at the Indian Police Academy in Artesia, N.M., where she taught law enforcement officers about investigating child abuse cases. Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief George Tiger said tribes were not given input into the selection. He said he has not heard of Hensley.

Read more from NewsOK.


Quote of the Day

When we sat down at the table with them, economic incentives were talked about, but their primary concern was a highly skilled, educated workforce.

-Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, on what swayed a Belgian aircraft component designer and manufacturer to locate a new plant in Stillwater.

Number of the Day


Per-capita gambling revenues in Oklahoma, 3rd highest in the country in 2010

Source: North American Gaming Almanac via Cherokee Phoenix

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The facts on immigration today

Below are the latest and most essential facts about immigration in our nation today. The facts are broken down into four sections: Today’s immigrants; Current federal and state immigration policy; Immigration public opinion polling; and Demographic and political destiny of Latinos. There were 39.9 million foreign-born people in the United States in 2010. 44 percent were naturalized citizens. 24 percent were legal permanent residents. 29 percent were unauthorized migrants. 3 percent were temporary legal residents (such as students or temporary workers).

Read more from The Center for American Progress.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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