In The Know: Gov. Fallin will not reconsider Medicaid expansion

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 Gov. Fallin told the Associated Press that she will not reconsider accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income Oklahomans, and that individual behaviors are mostly to blame for the state’s poor health outcomes.  Both House Democrats and House Republicans outlined their priorities and positions for the 2013 legislative session.

This Land Press produced a six-minute video, ‘Oklahoma Policy Institute: Five Years of Better Information, Better Policy’ to mark our organization’s 5th Anniversary.  Gov. Fallin has appointed longtime state bureaucrat, Michelle Day, as interim secretary of state.  Oklahoma has been included in a pilot project to help more rural homeowners refinance their mortgages through USDA.

Rep. David Dank argued for stringent criteria to govern existing and future tax credits.  Rep. Eric Proctor wants to block companies that outsource jobs to foreign countries from receiving incentive payments through the state’s Quality Jobs Program.  Hundreds of employees at a state disability resource center will be laid off, transferred, or offered a severance package as the facility is closed over the next several months.

The new director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Ed Lake, will speak at the next installment of the Practice and Policy Lecture Series about the future of DHS.  The Number of the Day is the number of Oklahoma households who pay more than 50 percent of their income in housing costs.  In today’s Policy Note, analysis from the Economic Policy Institute revealed that unemployment in most occupations in the U.S. remain nearly double pre-recession rates.

In The News

Fallin says no plan to revisit Medicaid rejection
Gov. Mary Fallin says she has no plans to revisit her decision to reject an expansion of Medicaid in Oklahoma, saying instead she wants the federal government to give Oklahoma the flexibility to develop its own plan for improving the health of the state. In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Fallin reiterated her position that the Medicaid expansion would ultimately prove too costly to the state. Fallin says most poor health outcomes in Oklahoma are connected to preventable illnesses related to things like smoking, lack of exercise and a poor diet and that she endorses a health care plan that targets those behaviors.

Read more from News9

House Democrats Announce 2013 Legislative Agenda
House Democrats Wednesday outlined their priorities and positions for the 2013 legislative session. “The issues in front of the Oklahoma legislature this year will define not only our progress as a state in the coming year, but also in the years to come,” said Democratic Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City. “Our legislative agenda reveals our priorities as a caucus as well as the differences between Democratic and Republican values,” said Leader Inman. “As Democrats, we believe that we must create policies that increase the standard of living in Oklahoma for all of our state’s citizens, not just the most affluent sectors.

Read more from The Daily Ardmoreite

House Republican Caucus Unveils Pro-Growth Strategic Plan
The House Republican Caucus today unveiled their 2013 legislative agenda, which included a three-point plan addressing economic development, education reforms and infrastructure funding and maintenance. “Oklahomans have spoken loud and clear this year by voting in the largest Republican majority in Oklahoma history,” said House Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton. “They want overreaching regulations that limit their freedom repealed. They want policies enacted that protect their rights, that encourage job growth and prosperity and that improves our education system so their children can have a brighter future.”

Read more from the Oklahoma House Republican Caucus

Fallin appoints interim Okla. secretary of state
Gov. Mary Fallin has appointed a longtime state bureaucrat as interim secretary of state. Fallin on Thursday named attorney Michelle Day as the interim secretary of state, effective Feb. 1. She replaces former state Sen. Glenn Coffee, who announced late last year he plans to resign the post to take a job in the private sector. Day has worked as assistant secretary of state since January 2011. She previously worked for the State Auditor and Inspector’s Office, the Department of Central Services, the Department of Public Safety and the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office.

Read more from NewsOn6

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Expansion of Refinancing Program to Help More Rural Homeowners
Participants in the pilot refinancing program are required to meet income eligibility requirements, and must have made their mortgage payments on time for 12 consecutive months. Borrowers participating in USDA’s Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loan programs are eligible to participate. Borrowers do not have to obtain new credit reports, property inspections or home appraisals. Refinanced loans must be at least one percent below the original interest rate. Terms cannot exceed 30 years. No cash out is permitted to the borrower. With today’s announcement, the pilot is being expanded to include residents in the following states: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Read more from the USDA

Oklahoma lawmaker: Cutting income tax rates requires addressing tax credits
Temporary resolution of the fiscal cliff debate in Washington resulted in higher payroll taxes for most Oklahomans. Coupled with higher health insurance costs and additional taxes associated with Obamacare, these looming drains on our economy make it even more essential to reduce state income tax rates. But that’s unlikely to happen until we address the tax credit scandal that siphons off hundreds of millions of dollars from our state budget each year.

Read more from NewsOK

Bill seeks Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program reform
Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, plans to introduce a bill when the Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes on Monday that would block companies that outsource jobs to foreign countries from receiving incentive payments through the state’s Quality Jobs Program.  Proctor has attempted to have similar legislation passed in the Oklahoma Legislature for the past three years but says his efforts have been blocked by the lobbying efforts of the State Chamber of Oklahoma.  “Unfortunately, a lot of these companies that this would affect write big checks to political campaigns and are members of the State Chamber of Commerce,” Proctor said.

Read more from NewsOK

Employees part of SORC transition plan
Once the client population starts to decrease significantly as the year progresses, the two expected courses for employees will be either voluntary buyout offers or a reduction in force. For Livingston, a buyout is obviously going to appeal to those who have spent a great number of years working for the institution since the benefits add up significantly over a longer period of time. Those who have not been with the facility that long may be inclined to wait.

Read more from The Pauls Valley Daily Democrat

Upcoming Event: New Director to give Policy & Practice Series lecture on future of DHS
The new director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS), Ed Lake, will speak at the next installment of the Practice and Policy Lecture Series on Monday, February 11th, from noon to 1 pm, at the Oklahoma History Center. Director Lake will share with listeners his plan for the state’s largest agency and discuss the new transformations to be made, such as the new Pinnacle Plan. On November 1, 2011, Ed Lake became OKDHS’s new executive director. Director Lake has a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of North Carolina and over 35 years of experience working for the Tennessee Department of Human Services.

Read more from OK Policy Blog

Quote of the Day

“A tax system should have two features. It should adequately fund essential state services and it should be fair to all.”

Rep. David Dank

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma households who pay more than 50 percent of their income in housing costs, 2012

Source:  Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

No occupation spared: Unemployment elevated across the board
The figure below shows unemployment rates by occupation in 2007 and 2012. While some occupations have higher unemployment rates than others, there is a job shortage in all occupational categories relative to before the recession started. Legal occupations and food preparation and serving occupations are doing the best with respect to where they were before the recession began, but unemployment rates in those occupations are still 1.2 times and 1.4 times as high, respectively, as they were in 2007. All other occupations have unemployment rates more than 1.6 times as high as before the recession began.

Economic Policy Institute

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