In The Know: Higher ed chancellor says budget cuts run counter to college completion goals

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 Oklahoma’s top higher education official said the state’s college completion goals are attainable, but not if the legislature continues to cut funding for public colleges and universities.  State general revenue tax collections for August came in below both the prior year receipts for the same month and the estimate used by legislators to craft the budget.

An OSU administrator explained in an op-ed in the Tulsa World that students are required to take general education courses because they broaden their knowledge base and sharpen their writing and math skills.  The OK Policy Blog reported on new Census data on poverty, income and health insurance coverage nationally.  An editorial in the Oklahoman applauded increased oversight of school operations by Oklahoma City School Board Members.

Rep. David Dank will once again chair the House Tax Credit and Economic Incentive Oversight Committee, to examine dozens of state tax breaks and incentives.  Oklahoma City is offering free screening and treatment to residents of neighborhoods at the highest risk of dying from heart disease through a program created by the new federal health care law.

In today’s Policy Note, the Kaiser Family Foundation hosts an online, interactive calculator for individuals to determine the amount of premium subsidies to buy health insurance that they may be eligible for in 2014 under the new federal health law.  The Number of the Day is the number of women who die each day from heart disease and stroke in Oklahoma.

In The News

More funding is needed to reach college completion goals, higher education official says

Oklahoma’s top higher education official said he’s optimistic about the state’s college completion goals — but only if lawmakers find money to get the job done.  Glen Johnson, chancellor of Oklahoma’s higher education system, said Wednesday that higher education officials would need to make a stronger pitch in the upcoming legislative session for increased funding.  Johnson and Gov. Mary Fallin have made college completion a high priority in recent years, setting a statewide goal of an additional 20,400 degrees and certificates awarded in Oklahoma over the next 12 years.  “We can’t do that with budget reductions or even flat budgets,” Johnson said.

Read more from NewsOK at

Oklahoma’s tax collections slowed in August

Overall collections to the state’s general revenue fund have been diminished by low energy prices in the final months of the last fiscal year, plus refunds made to energy companies during the first two months of this fiscal year, said Preston Doerflinger, who serves as finance secretary on Gov. Mary Fallin’s Cabinet.  Total collections to the general revenue fund for August were $386.4 million, down $28.4 million, or 6.8 percent, from the same month a year. The amount was $17 million, or 4.2 percent, lower than the estimate.

Read more from NewsOK at

Why colleges require general-ed courses

Three competing agendas are leading people to ask why colleges require students to take general-education courses that are not specifically career-directed – the completion agenda (all students need to finish college), the cost-reduction agenda (reduce college costs) and the work-preparation agenda (college graduates need to be work-ready).  Some believers in these agendas might say that if students could complete college without general-education courses, the rate of completion might increase because students would graduate faster; costs would be lower because students would have to pay for fewer college credits, and students would be prepared for the workplace because they still would have taken all their specialized courses.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at 

New Census data shows poverty rate holds steady; young adults benefit from health reform

The number of Americans living in poverty remained unchanged in 2011, following three straight years of increases, according to new data from the Census Bureau released today.  The current poverty rate is still at the highest level since 1993, with 46.2 million people (or 15 percent of Americans) living below the poverty line.  The poverty rate among Whites stood at 12.8 percent, while the rates for African-Americans (27.6 percent) and Hispanics (25.3 percent) were roughly twice as high.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Q&A sessions with school leaders would serve Oklahoma City district well

It’s encouraging to hear school leaders delivering their results and answering questions from the people elected by our community to safeguard the education of the children and the taxpayer money allotted for that purpose. It’s democracy in action.  But to the extent the practice of a public accounting is good for charter schools, wouldn’t it be good for other public schools as well?  As Watson suggests, the idea of dozens of school presentations in one night isn’t feasible. But over a period of time, board members might find themselves enlightened and with a better understanding of how their decision-making plays out at the school level on everything from staffing formulas to volunteer policies and of the needs of individual schools or groups of schools.

Read more from NewsOK at

Okla. lawmaker resumes assault on tax incentives

An Oklahoma lawmaker who fought unsuccessfully during the legislative session earlier this year to eliminate dozens of state tax breaks for various industries is picking up where he left off.  Republican state Rep. David Dank of Oklahoma City will chair the House Tax Credit and Economic Incentive Oversight Committee that meets Wednesday for a briefing by officials with the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the Commerce Department.

Read more from the Associated Press at

Health Department Aims To Improve Oklahomans’ Health With Federal Grant

Oklahoma is one of the unhealthiest states in the nation, ranking 48th in health outcomes. But now, Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County are spending some big bucks to change that.  The federal government, as part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, has set aside $10 billion for health care prevention. Oklahoma City received a big chunk of that money, $790,000 a year for five years.  Since April, Michael Baily has been hitting the streets in Oklahoma City’s poorest neighborhood. He’s out visiting barber shops, and anywhere else recruiting those with a high risk of heart disease.

Read more from News9 at

Quote of the Day

I was trying to cope with it, my blood pressure was 210 over 160, I didn’t have insurance or anything, no medication.  It has saved my life, my prayers were answered when Michael Bailey walked into the store that day.

Terri Long, a woman who learned about free screenings, doctor visits, and Rx drugs for heart disease from a health department worker who’s been canvassing Oklahoma City’s poorest neighborhoods; the “My Heart, My Health, My Family” program was created by the Affordable Care Act

Number of the Day


Number of women who die each day on average from heart disease and stroke in Oklahoma, 2010

Source: American Heart Association

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Health Reform Subsidy Calculator

Beginning in 2014, tax credits will be available for people under age 65 who purchase coverage on their own in a health insurance Exchange and are not covered through their employer, Medicare or Medicaid. The tool allows the user to examine the impact at different income levels, ages, family sizes, and regional costs.

Use the premium subsidy calculator at

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