In The Know: General revenue collections for Oklahoma rise in May

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 general revenue fund collections were up 5.8 percent in May over the previous year. Due to federal sequestration cuts, Tulsa Public Schools stands to receive $1.7 million less in Title I funds for serving children from low-income families. The cut is $400,000 worse than was previously projected.

An EPA survey found that Oklahoma will need about $6.5 billion in federal funding to maintain its drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years. NPR spoke to an Oklahoma farmer for a story on the debate over federal subsidies for crop insurance. An appeals court allowed a lawsuit to go forward by a Bethany pastor who claims an American Indian image on Oklahoma’s standard license plates violates his religious rights as a Christian.

The OK Policy Blog shared the third in our series of posts about Oklahoma’s racial wealth gap. The post looks at wide and stubbornly persistent disparities in white and non-white Oklahomans’ access to jobs and income. Oklahoma Watch reported on the struggles of undocumented immigrants in Oklahoma to obtain life-saving health care. CapitolBeatOK reports on how for the first time since the 1940s, so-called “Black Friday” retail tactics will be legal in Oklahoma.

AEP-PSO is seeking bids for long-term purchases of up to 200 megawatts of new wind energy resources. Mayor Dewey Bartlett and former Mayor Kathy Taylor are headed to November’s ballot in Tulsa’s first nonpartisan mayoral general election. In a primary election that included all candidates, Taylor received 42 percent of the vote while Bartlett received 34 percent.

The Number of the Day is Oklahoma’s rank among the states for the prevalence of interracial marriage. In today’s Policy Note, Bloomberg reports on how the accountable care program created by the Affordable Care Act is already racking up cost savings while improving care in hospitals.

In The News

General revenue collections for Oklahoma rise in May

General revenue fund collections were up 5.8 percent in May over the previous year, according a report released Tuesday. General revenue fund collections for May generated $455.4 million, an increase of $25.1 million. Individual income taxes brought in $176.3 million, or 4.3 percent more than the previous year, and sales taxes pumped in $157.7 million, up 3 percent. Gross production tax collections from May contributed $29.4 million after rebates and credits. The amount was all collected from oil, with taxes on natural gas production contributing nothing to the general fund.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Sequester cuts dip TPS Title I budget by $1.7M

Classrooms across the city will soon feel the squeeze from higher-than-expected federal sequestration-related cuts, Tulsa Public Schools officials said Tuesday. The Tulsa school district is among a host of districts that just received notice that their Title I funding for serving children from low-income families in 2013-14 will be much lower than expected. Tulsa Public Schools stands to receive $1.7 million less for that purpose than it did for the fiscal year that ends June 30 – and about $400,000 less than officials anticipated based on the most recent projections of how automatic federal spending cuts would affect Oklahoma’s schools.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

The federal cost of clean drinking water in Oklahoma: $6.5 billion

Every four years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency releases an analysis of how much federal money states will need to complete water projects to provide clean drinking water over the next 20 years. The most recent update of the EPA’s Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment was just released, and the national need is staggering. Oklahoma needs about $6.5 billion in federal funding, similar to most surrounding states, except Texas, whose size and population contributes to it’s nearly $44 billion need.

Read more from StateImpact Oklahoma.

How the Senate farm bill would change subsidies

The Senate voted Monday to approve its version of the farm bill, a massive spending measure that covers everything from food stamps to crop insurance and sets the nation’s farm policy for the next five years. The centerpiece of that policy is an expanded crop insurance program, designed to protect farmers from losses, that some say amounts to a highly subsidized gift to agribusiness. That debate is set to continue as the House plans to take up its version of the bill this month. For farmer Scott Neufeld, crop insurance is an integral part of his family’s business. When the wind whips through his farm in northwestern Oklahoma, the wheat sways and looks like a roiling ocean — those famous amber waves of grain.

Read more from NPR.

Appeals court rules man can challenge Oklahoma ‘rain god’ plate

An appeals court gave new life Tuesday to a lawsuit of a Bethany pastor who claims an American Indian image on Oklahoma’s standard license plates violates his religious rights as a Christian. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that a judge in Oklahoma City erred by throwing out the lawsuit of Keith Cressman, pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Bethany. Cressman objects to the image of an American Indian shooting an arrow toward the sky to bring down rain. He claims the image unconstitutionally contradicts his Christian beliefs by depicting Indian religious beliefs, and that he shouldn’t have to display the image.

Read more from NewsOK.

How the employment gap drives the wealth gap

Disparities between white and non-white Oklahomans’ access to generative assets, which refer to income a person earns through paid employment, are wide and stubbornly persistent. Previous posts in this running series, Closing the Opportunity Gap: Building Equity in Oklahoma, explored historical roots of the gap and detailed disparities in foundational assets, e.g. health. This post turns to a second core area, generative assets, which measure access to opportunities to maintain stable employment and earn income. Oklahoma is frequently hailed as a haven of low unemployment and widely available economic opportunity. This is far less true for people of color and residents of rural counties who have long faced significant barriers to employment.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Prospects are few for undocumented immigrants in failing health

When they’re ill, they borrow medicine from relatives or get discounted prescriptions from a community health center. If they’re hurting from an ear infection, back sprain or other painful injury, they may go to an emergency room. If they’re depressed and can’t sleep or function well, they may wait for months to see a Spanish-speaking counselor. Undocumented immigrants in Oklahoma subsist on the edge, not only in terms of finding jobs and places to live, but also in gaining access to basic, continuing medical care.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

NewsOK: Far too many teens continue to drop out of high school

IF percentages were all that mattered, then the nation’s improving high school graduation rate would be a reason to celebrate. The newest calculation from researchers at Education Week shows that nearly 75 percent of the Class of 2010 — those students who began as high school freshmen four years earlier — graduated on time with a standard diploma. The percentage is significantly higher than 10 years ago and is climbing closer to the all-time high of 77.1 percent, the newspaper reported. The 2010 data was the most recent available, but researchers used the information to project results for the just-graduated Class of 2013. Their prediction: A staggering 1 million students who began as high school freshmen in the 2009-10 school year didn’t get a diploma this spring.

Read more from NewsOK.

‘Black Friday’ reform signed into law after years of debate

For the first time since the 1940s, so-called “Black Friday” tactics will be formally allowed in the Sooner State, thanks to the law sponsored by state Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Tom Newell, R-Seminole, which Gov. Mary Fallin signed last week. Since 1941, state retailers in most cases had to sell products for at least six percent more than they paid for the items. A December 2011 formal opinion from Attorney General Scott Pruitt affirmed the decades-old populist law meant what it said, even in the era of Wal-Mart and other “Big Box” operations known for below-cost discounts as a means of attracting buyers – particularly on the Friday after Thanksgiving. For decades, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have had the most restrictive limitations on discount pricing, but after Nov. 1, when S.B. 550 goes into effect, that will change.

Read more from CapitolBeatOK.

AEP-PSO seeks bids for as many as 200 MW of wind energy

AEP-PSO has not added any new wind power capacity in more than two years, but the Tulsa-based utility announced this week it is seeking bids for long-term purchases of up to 200 megawatts of new wind energy resources. The 10-year contract for wind power from the Blue Canyon II wind farm near Lawton is winding down by the end of the year, so American Electric Power-Public Service Co. of Oklahoma is seeking to replace that 151 megawatts and add some more, if the price is right. Blue Canyon, owned and operated by Horizon Wind Energy, was one of AEP-PSO’s first wind power deals, initiated in December 2005.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Taylor, Bartlett advance to mayoral runoff

Mayor Dewey Bartlett and former Mayor Kathy Taylor are headed to November’s ballot in Tulsa’s first nonpartisan mayoral general election. Taylor captured 42 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary election, taking a definitive lead over Bartlett’s 34 percent and former City Councilor Bill Christiansen’s 23 percent. By combining for more than 50 percent of the vote, Taylor and Bartlett avoided a multicandidate runoff election in August and will compete again Nov. 12, when both feel they have the best chance. Bartlett said he will work hard to attract Christiansen supporters in the general election. Christiansen, meanwhile, said he would offer to endorse his fellow Republican.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

It’s a person. It could be your mom, your dad. Imagine going to the hospital and feeling they are treating you differently once the moment you say you don’t have insurance or you don’t have a Social Security number.

-Oklahoma City resident Deisy Escalera, whose father is struggling to afford dialysis treatments for kidney failure without insurance, because his undocumented immigrant status bars him from federal aid (Source:

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s rank among the states for the prevalence of interracial marriage, 17.2 percent of couples compared to 6.9 percent nationally

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Obamacare shows hospital savings as patients make gains

Less than five months before the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in, hospitals are improving care and saving millions of dollars with one of the least touted but potentially most effective provisions of the law. While much of the focus on Obamacare has been on the government rush to open insurance exchanges by Oct. 1, 252 hospitals and physician groups across the U.S. have signed up to join the administration’s accountable care program, in which they share the financial risk of keeping patients healthy. Under the program, hospitals and physician practices take responsibility for tracking and maintaining the health of elderly and disabled patients. If costs rise beyond an agreed upon level, hospitals may become responsible for reimbursing the government. If they cut the cost of care while maintaining quality, hospitals share in the savings. The government expects the savings may be as much as $1.9 billion from 2012 to 2015. Early indications suggest they are starting to add up.

Read more from Bloomberg.

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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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