In The Know: Governor to delay decision on Medicaid till after November election

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.

Gov. Fallin said she would likely delay a decision on whether the state should accept federal funding to expand Medicaid until after the November election.  Most indicators of child well being in Oklahoma showed improvement over last year, but the number of children living in poverty and in families without secure employment is on the rise.  OK Policy previously reported on the state’s inadequate safety net, which provides no support to most of Oklahoma’s poorest families.

The Commission for Human Services voted to increase pay for foster parents and child welfare workers.  The Commission also heard yesterday from both sides of the debate over a plan to close a state-run facility for the developmentally disabled in Pauls Valley.  The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board is promoting an oil and gas curricula to teachers.  Community leaders and civil servants reflected on the legacy of late Senator Gene Stipe.

A drug rehab center in Pittsburg County is under investigation after a third patient died in nine months.  The OK Policy Blog discussed a new survey of top economists; not a single one agreed that tax cuts generated enough growth to pay for themselves.  Former Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan has asked a federal judge to grant him a new trial on a bribery conviction.

In today’s Policy Note, Stateline reported on a global survey of the best places to do business in oil and gas; Oklahoma ranked in the top 10 out of 147 jurisdictions worldwide for having the fewest barriers to investment – low tax rates and a loose regulatory regime.  The Number of the Day is the number of new businesses created each year in Oklahoma on average.

In The News

Fallin won’t decide on expanding Medicaid until after election

Gov. Mary Fallin said she doesn’t anticipate making a decision on whether the state should accept expanded Medicaid funding from the Affordable Care Act before November’s general election.  “We have some pretty tough decisions that we have to make … about where we’re going to go,” Fallin told the Tulsa Metro Chamber on Tuesday.  After her speech, Fallin told the press that the law – “Obamacare” to its opponents – is unaffordable and unworkable for the state and federal governments.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma lags in child well-being ranks

Despite slight improvement, Oklahoma remains near the bottom of the country for child well-being, according to a national report that ranks states using an index of 16 indicators in four categories.  Oklahoma ranked 40th overall, up from last year’s 43rd spot, according to the 2012 Kids Count Data Book released annually by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

What welfare? No safety net for Oklahoma’s poorest children

Welfare as most people imagine it doesn’t actually exist anymore.  Public discourse conjures images of lazy people scamming the system and living large off their monthly government check.  It’s a popular, but wildly inaccurate narrative.  Welfare reform in the mid-1990s gutted funding for cash-benefit assistance and radically downsized what had been the nation’s central anti-poverty program.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

DHS commission OKs raises for foster care parents, child welfare workers

Foster care parents and child welfare workers will be getting raises in accordance with an improvement plan for abused and neglected children.  At a Tuesday meeting of the oversight commission of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, members voted to raise rates for foster families.   Interim director Preston Doerflinger announced he is applying salary increases to child welfare workers this month.   Workers will get getting an average of a 5 percent increase, or about $200 a month.   “It is about time we pay them what they should be paid,” Doerflinger said. “This sends a message to our current workers that you are important, you are valued and we will do what we say we will do.”

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Hear from both sides of debate

Members of Oklahoma Commission for Human Services on Tuesday heard from both sides of the debate over a plan to close one of two state-run facilities for the developmentally disabled.  Michael Peck, an Enid optometrist and OCHS member, made a report at the June meeting calling for closing Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley and moving clients to Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid, or into community-based group homes.  No vote was taken Tuesday, and Peck said the meeting went well.

Read more from the Enid News and Eagle at

Mayor Dewey Bartlett, OERB to host teachers workshop

The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board will host nearly 200 teachers from the Tulsa area for a daylong curricula workshop at Tulsa Memorial High School.  Mayor Dewey Bartlett will kick-off the workshop at 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 25, 2012, with a short welcome and meet and greet.  The workshop will train educators to teach one of the OERB’s eight energy and science curricula, as well as fuel a deeper understanding of the oil and natural gas industry. The OERB provides the curricula, training and materials – some costing as much as $700 – free to Oklahoma teachers, and will be handing out nearly $60,000 in free classroom supplies at this workshop.

Read more from the Tulsa Business Journal at

Gene Stipe’s tenure influenced law, Oklahoma industries

Former District 7 state Sen. Gene Stipe, during his more than a half-century in the state legislature and through his long law practice, made his influence felt in a number of areas. McAlester attorney Warren Gotcher said Stipe served as a mentor to not only him, but to others as well. “He was a great individual and a mentor to every lawyer living in Pittsburg County and southeastern Oklahoma,” Gotcher said. “I can’t express how much I learned from him.”

Read more from The Norman Transcript at

Oklahoma drug rehabilitation center under investigation after third death in nine months

Pittsburg County drug rehabilitation center is under investigation after a third patient died in nine months.  The most recent incident at Narconon Arrowhead involves Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso, whose body was found at the center about 9:20 a.m. Thursday, Sheriff Joel Kerns said.  “Due to the number of deaths at the center, an investigation has been opened,” Kerns said. He said the center has about 150 patients.  The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was called to assist with the investigation, the sheriff said.

Read more from NewsOK at

That’s a Laffer! Top economists unanimously reject that tax cuts will yield higher revenue

The idea that tax cut pay for themselves has been widely debunked by economists, including by three leading economic advisers to recent Republican Presidents, Martin Feldstein, Glenn Hubbard and Gregory Mankiw. We explained the fundamental flaws in Laffer’s use of Oklahoma tax data and several Oklahoma economists, along with the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, identified methodological problems with their projection of the economic impact of their income tax proposal.  Now comes a survey of a group known as the IGM Economics Experts panel, made up of 40 of the nation’s leading economists from top research universities chosen to represent a range of political and ideological orientations.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Ex-Okla. senator seeks new trial on bribery charge

The former leader of the Oklahoma Senate has asked a federal judge to grant him a new trial on a bribery conviction, alleging that faulty jury instructions and implied agreements between prosecutors and a key government witness tainted the trial.  The motion was filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City by attorneys for former Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan, who was convicted of bribery March 5. That jury found him not guilty of related extortion and mail fraud counts and could not reach a verdict on other counts.

Read more from the Associated Press at

Quote of the Day

It is about time we pay them what they should be paid.

Preston Doerflinger, interim human services director, on a 5% pay increase for child welfare workers and a bump in the daily rate paid per child to foster families

Number of the Day

15, 228

The number of new businesses created each year in Oklahoma on average, compared to 14,847 businesses that close their doors, 2000-2010

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Several U.S. States Deemed Best Global Oil and Gas Investments

Oklahoma is the best place on earth to do business in oil and gas, and it’s followed closely by several other U.S. states, according to a global survey of petroleum executives.  Seven U.S. states ranked in the top 10, and five more cracked the top 25 among 147 jurisdictions evaluated in the Frasier Institute’s Global Petroleum Survey, whose results were released Tuesday (June 26).

Read more from Stateline at

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