In The Know: July 14, 2011

In 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.

The first meeting of a legislative task force for the study of state tax credits and economic incentives is scheduled for this Friday.  Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid calls for halting plans to build a convention center downtown in favor of quality of life projects like trails, sidewalks and senior wellness centers.  Republican State Representative George Faught announced his candidacy for Congress in Oklahoma’s Second District.  CapitolBeatOK presents different perspectives on the state’s recent $219 million deposit into the Rainy Day Fund.

Home foreclosures in Oklahoma were down significantly during the first half of this year.  The Tulsa area had the eighth-fastest growth in clean economy jobs between 2003 and 2010.  Oklahoma has seen a sharp increase in oil drilling.  Sen. Tom Coburn may rejoin a group of senators known as the ‘Gang of Six’ for bipartisan budget negotiations.  Grand Lake’s blue-green algae toxin warning has been lifted

Edmond joins Oklahoma City in establishing a water conservation schedule and will temporarily buy needed water from Oklahoma City.  Citizens of Ada ask for a public apology from the city after the chair of a city beautification committee used the n-word during a meeting.  The number of Oklahoma residents who say they are living with a same-sex partner has increased dramatically, according to the 2010 Census.

The OK Policy Blog has an interview with the interim director of the University of Tulsa’s new School of Urban Education.  In Today’s Policy Note, the National Employment Law Project issued a report documenting widespread hiring discrimination against the unemployed.  Today’s Number of the Day is how many jobs Oklahoma needs to get back to pre-recession levels. These stories and more below the jump.

In The News

Dank tax credit study launches Friday

Rep. David Dank will open his much-anticipated study of state tax credits with a look at the fact that some credits can be used to soften the effect of guaranty-fund assessments on insurance companies.  The Task Force for the Study of State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives, which Dank co-chairs along with Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, takes off at 10 a.m. Friday, with a meeting scheduled to take up most of the day.  “I just think we need to make a determination on the three points that the attorney general said constituted a rightful incentive, and whether or not those credits actually should be paid by the community as a whole, which is all the taxpayers, or whether it should be paid by the people in the industry and the policyholders based on their needs and what they purchase in terms of property and casualty, health and others,” Dank said. “I mean, who should be paying those assessments?”

Read more from 23rd & Lincoln at

The New OKC Convention Center and Hotel: Implications for MAPS 3 and Economic Development

Forced to face a vote on its own, the voters almost certainly would not have approved financing a new convention center at this time. Given the will of the people, and OKC’s horrifying and unsustainable health epidemics, the “quality of life projects” such as trails, sidewalks, and senior wellness centers, neglected over the 1 years since MAPS 3 passage due to our preoccupation with the convention center, should be implemented with urgency. The people did not approve funding for a very expensive convention center hotel, studies do not support its development, and ongoing financial losses of these hotels are commonplace and can be severe.

Read more from the OKC Gazette at

Faught Launches Congressional Campaign

State Representative George Faught (R-Muskogee) announced today his candidacy for Congress in Oklahoma’s Second District, a seat currently held by Rep. Dan Boren. Faught  (pronounced ‘Fŏt’)  formed an exploratory committee to consider a possible run after Rep. Boren’s announcement that he would not seek re-election in 2012.  “The citizens of eastern Oklahoma deserve a proven leader to represent their conservative values in Washington, D.C.” declared Faught. “Today, our country has arrived at a critical crossroads. Out of control spending and unsustainable debt have brought America to the verge of economic collapse. We are engaged in a battle over what kind of country we’re going to leave for our children and grandchildren, and I am ready to fight for their future.”

Read more from the Muskogee Politico at

On a rainy day, analysts debate best use of Rainy Day Fund deposit

State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger’s announcement of a $219 million deposit into the Rainy Day Fund sparked immediate hopes among many government employees to see some funding restored to next year’s budgets.  However, other voices say the state should take advantage of Oklahoma’s good economic news to move aggressively to “right size” government and fund priorities.

Read more from the CapitolBeatOK at,_analysts_debate_best_use_of_Rainy_Day_Fund_deposit

Oklahoma foreclosures drop

Home repossessions in Oklahoma were significantly less common during the first half of 2011 than they were at anytime in the previous year.  A report by data service RealtyTrac Inc. says 8,586 foreclosures were filed from January to June. That’s down 12 percent from the previous six months and 17 percent from the first half of 2010.  The resulting foreclosure rate of one for every 192 households gave Oklahoma the 28th-highest foreclosure rate in the country.  Oklahoma’s downward trend continued in June, with the foreclosure rate of one for every 842 households falling 2.5 percent from May and 5.2 percent from June 2010.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Tulsa low in ‘clean jobs’; But growth in that sector ranked eighth nationally

Tulsa and Oklahoma City rank in the bottom half of the nation’s top 100 metros in the number of “clean” or “green” economy jobs, according to a study released Wednesday by Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.  The size of Tulsa’s clean economy numbered 7,130 jobs last year, putting the metro area at No. 68 in the ranking. Oklahoma City followed right behind at No. 69 with 6,854 clean jobs.  Between 2003 and 2010, the Tulsa area had the eighth-fastest growth in clean economy jobs, adding 3,054 such jobs for an 8.3 percent average annual growth. For that same period, the Oklahoma City metro added 2,019 clean jobs and ranked 37th.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Oklahoma Experiencing Resurgence in Oil Drilling

American Petro-Hunter has been making progress at the Company’s Northern Oklahoma property recently announcing its first oil and gas sale shortly after the project went into production.  Oklahoma has seen a sharp increase in the amount of rigs within its borders, especially since the first half of 2010. According to a June 2011 Report by Headwaters Economics horizontal drilling, a technique employed by American Petro-Hunter, has been one of the leading reasons for the growth and development as more oil and gas is able to be recovered from what used to be unconventional plays.

Read more from Benzinga at

Coburn may return to Senate’s ‘Gang of 6’

Sen. Tom Coburn said Wednesday that he may rejoin the so-called Gang of Six, the bipartisan band of senators seeking to reach agreement on a big deficit-cutting deal that would blend spending cuts with a tax code overhaul.  The Oklahoma Republican dropped out of the group two months ago saying Democrats weren’t willing to cut enough spending from programs like Medicare. He says he may rejoin the group depending on how it responds to ideas he’s sent over. The closely watched group has been working for months in hopes of a bipartisan deficit-cutting deal that might gain momentum despite the partisanship consuming Capitol Hill.

Read more from NewsOK at

Algae warning lifted at Grand Lake

Blue-green algae toxins in Grand Lake have subsided enough to lift a warning against direct contact with lake water, the Grand River Dam Authority’s chief environmental officer said Wednesday.  “Based on the latest test results … the main part of the lake were totally negative” for toxins, said Ecosystems Manager Darrell Townsend.  Townsend said people should still avoid algae “scums” that continue to collect in the back of coves.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Edmond follows OKC into water rationing

Mandatory water rationing is effective immediately in Edmond. The City of Edmond has announced the watering of lawns will depend on odd to even addresses for residences and businesses.  Double-digit temperatures in Edmond this summer combined with less than average rainfall has increased water usage in the community, causing the City of Edmond to temporarily buy additional water from Oklahoma City, said Fred Rice, Edmond Water Resources superintendent.  The schedule will follow Oklahoma City’s water conservation schedule and applies to watering lawns. Residents and businesses with even-numbered addresses can water on even-numbered days and odd numbered addresses on odd-numbered days.

Read more from the Edmond Sun at

Ada committee racist comment

Citizens of Ada ask for a public apology from the city for the use of the n-word during a city meeting. Fox 25 obtained the recording of that beautification committee meeting. Chair Dexter Pruitt said, “We got too many ‘expletive’ and Mexicans moving in.” That committee is now disbanded. Citizens plan to speak before the council Monday.

Read more from Fox 25 at

2010 Census indicates increase among same-sex homeowners in Oklahoma

Oklahoma became one the first states to ban on gay marriage seven years ago, yet the number of residents who say they are living with a same-sex partner has increased dramatically over the past 10 years, according to U.S. Census figures released Thursday.  The number of male respondents who said they were living with male partners increased to 4,393 in 2010, a 56 percent increase from the 2000 Census. The number of women who said they were living with female partners went up more than 83 percent over the same period, from 2,952 to 5,409, the Census found. There was also a nearly 63 percent increase in the number of respondents, gay and straight, who said they were unmarried and living with their partner, from 53,307 in 2000 to 86,694 last year.

Read more from the Associated Press at–Census-Oklahoma-Gay-Households/

An interview with Dr. Thomas Benediktson about TU’s new focus on urban education

The University of Tulsa recently announced that it is changing the name of its education department to the School of Urban Education. The change reflects an increased focus on the issues confronted in low-income, urban districts. OK Policy spoke with Dr. Thomas Benediktson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at TU and interim director of the School of Urban Education, about reasons for the change and what it means for Oklahoma.

Read more from OK Policy Blog at

Quote of the Day

“I really believe it was the core of improvement for us,”

Diane Hensley, principal of Mark Twain Elementary School on how Literacy First helped turnaround her school’s performance.

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s jobs deficit – or the difference between the number of jobs Oklahoma has and the number it needs to get back to pre-recession levels.

Source: Economic Policy Institute via Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Hiring Discrimination Against the Unemployed

More than 14 million Americans are counted as officially unemployed (a number that excludes those who have given up looking for work), and more than six million of those have been jobless for longer than six months. Equally discouraging, job creation has stagnated, with employers nationwide adding only a net of 43,000 new jobs over the last two months.  Making matters worse, U.S. employers of all sizes, staffing agencies and online job posting firms are using recruitment and hiring policies that expressly deny employment to the unemployed—simply because they are not currently working.  Despite considerable media coverage since the practice was first reported, a recent informal sampling of online job postings conducted by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) documents that the practice of excluding unemployed job seekers persists.

Read more from the National Employment Law Project at

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