In The Know: March 23, 2011

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.

Today on In The Know, Routes looks at how immigration crackdowns are impacting Oklahoma children. The Oklahoma affiliate of the National Rifle Assocation has come out against a proposed open carry law. On the one year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, OK Policy looks at how it is already helping Oklahomans. Governor Fallin has endorsed a measure passed by the House to begin implementing health care exchanges. In today’s Policy Note, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities debunks claims about Medicaid costs under health reform.

The OK Policy Blog has an updated summary of what’s been lost due to state budget cuts. Tulsa Public Schools is expected to release a plan for consolidating districts next week. NewsOK looks at bills being considered in the legislature that would require all Oklahoma third graders to pass a reading test or be held back a year. The OU Daily examines a $7.7 million fund that OU President David Boren is provided by the Board of Regents to use at his discretion. Chesapeake is asking for $3.5 million in job creation incentives from Oklahoma City, even though their plans for expansion are already well under way without the incentive. Boeing is seeking a $1.5 million incentive payment from OKC. The company made over $3 billion in profits last year and took in $64 billion in revenue.

The director of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police explains how mental health budget cuts are taking up all the resources of law enforcement in some communities. The Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence Awards chairman discusses the increasing importance of non-profits in Oklahoma as public funds dwindle. The director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association makes the case for local control of schools.

More below the jump.

In The News

Battle over immigration starts young

Principal Laura Morris isn’t sure whether the Oklahoma Legislature will try to make her identify undocumented immigrants among the students at her southside Oklahoma City elementary school. But she knows she won’t do it without a fight. “I am not a border agent,” said Morris, whose Capitol Hill Elementary School has a 76 percent Latino population. “I am here for the children, no questions asked. I will never, never check papers at the door.” … Morris said every day is a struggle to encourage her students to complete school. She said the older Latino students are, the more they become aware of their surroundings. “It becomes very difficult for us to keep these kids focused around the sixth grade,” she said. “They are able to comprehend what is going on around them, and they feel that society doesn’t support them.” [Note: Many of the bills mentioned in this story have already been defeated or are unlikely to pass, but it offers a glimpse into how the overall climate of fear surrounding Hispanic immigration is affecting children.]

Read more from this Routes article at

See also: Sen. Shortey says immigration bill is too weak from NewsOK

Oklahoma Rifle Association opposes open carry bill

The Oklahoma Rifle Association’s board of directors is out with a letter to House members stating its opposition to Senator Steve Russell’s open carry proposal, Senate Bill 129. It’s a move that Russell says disappoints him and despite the ORA’s oppostion, he expects the bill to pass. … The Officers and Board Members are in opposition to SB 129 for these reasons: First, the purchase of handguns by persons under the age of 21 is in violation of existing federal law. Second, allowing citizens, trained or untrained, to carry rifles and shotguns either in a scabbard or with a sling on city streets and into business establishments will create an atmosphere of hostility and distrust, not to mention create fear in those in our society who have an aversion to any type of firearm. Third, the apprehension, created for the law enforcement officers by the open carrying of long guns could create situations resulting in unnecessary use of deadly force.

Read more from the McCarville Report at

Happy Anniversary, Affordable Care Act

Today is the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama signing into law the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Many of the most far-reaching provisions of the health care reform law – including the launch of new health insurance exchanges for individuals and small groups, subsidies for the purchase of individual coverage, expansion of Medicaid eligibility, and the individual coverage requirement- do not take effect until January 1, 2014. However, some provisions of the law are already improving health insurance, expanding coverage to new populations, and making insurance more affordable. According to a fact sheet from Families USA, Oklahomans have already benefited from health care reform in a number of ways…

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at http://happy-anniversary-aca/.

See also: Fallin endorses health care exchange measure, House Bill 2130 from CapitolBeatOK

What’s at stake: The toll of budget cuts

Another budget year, the same sad story: The combination of tax cuts and the recession results in severe cuts to public services. Over the past two years, most agencies have lost 15 percent or more of their funding. Even though state appropriations as a share of the economy is at a 30 year low, next year’s shortfall is projected at $500 million. The Governor’s proposed budget for next year would eliminate some agencies and take another 3 to 5 percent from the rest. Last year we surveyed some of what’s been lost. Here’s an update…

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Tulsa Public Schools to release consolidation proposals next week

Tulsa Public Schools is gearing up to release its plans to shrink the district.  The district plans to release three proposals for consolidation next Tuesday, March 29, 2011. One of the factors that could decide their fates is which schools are losing students and which schools are gaining them. Nearly one in three Tulsa Public School students are walking away from their home schools and transferring into other schools.

Read more from this NewsOn6 article at

Oklahoma lawmakers target ‘social promotion’

If a third-grade student can’t pass a state reading test, should the child be held back to retake the class or promoted to the fourth grade to remain with peers? It’s a question that has been debated by presidents, researchers and educators for two decades with little consensus across the nation. Oklahoma lawmakers are considering two bills that propose ending what has come to be known as “social promotion” — or the practice of passing failing students to the next grade level so they remain with peers.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

$7.7M used at Boren’s need

OU President David Boren controls about $7.7 million annually in unrestricted funds for use solely at his discretion. Unlike other sums received by the university, these funds and expenditures are not subjected to the university’s normal budgetary process and must only be approved by the OU Board of Regents. Chris Shilling, OU’s press secretary, confirmed that Boren decides how these funds are allocated, and he defended the privilege. “The president must have the ability to respond to unanticipated needs,” Shilling said.

Read more from this OU Daily article at

Chesapeake decides to expand, then asks for $3.5 million in job creation incentives

Chesapeake Energy Corp. is set to build four more office buildings and two garages that will accommodate up to 2,700 people on a campus that is already home to about 4,000 workers. To accommodate that growth, the company submitted a first-time application Tuesday to the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust for $3.5 million in job creation incentive. Martha Burger, vice president at Chesapeake Energy, told the trust the company plans to expand its campus at NW 63 and Western Avenue east of Francis Avenue. And that growth requires about $3.5 million in sewer and infrastructure improvements because the land was largely undeveloped.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

See also: Boeing seeks job creation incentives in Oklahoma City from NewsOK

Stacey Puckett: Intervention, prevention services funding would be money well spent

I read with interest “Mental health agency among many now hurting” (Our Views, March 16), on the impact the mental health budget cuts are having on law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma. … In Oklahoma, 73 percent of the agencies have five or fewer officers. If you take 365 days a year, divided by 24-hour-a-day coverage, seven days a week, many of the cities in Oklahoma only have one officer on duty at any given time. If they are faced with a mental health crisis of an individual, the lack of funding for local mental health services forces them out of their city for several hours of the day seeking assistance for this citizen in crisis. It leaves their city to rely on other law enforcement entities to provide public safety coverage while they are out trying to get help for those in crisis.

Read more from this NewsOK editorial at

Travis Campbell: Non-profits more necessary as public funds dwindle

As Oklahoma faces an unprecedented $500 million budget shortfall, the reduction of state-provided health and human services seems all but inevitable. This sobering prospect drives home, more than ever, the important role that nonprofit organizations play in our state. At a time when government funding at all levels continues to dwindle, hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans know they can still depend on nonprofit agencies to provide critical services. According to a 2008 report released by the Urban Institute National Center for Charitable Statistics, Oklahoma’s nonprofits invest more than $8 billion into our state’s economy each year, through programs, operating expenses and salaries

Read more from this Tulsa World editorial at

Jeff Mills: Local control crucial for school districts’ success

Many people would agree that parents, communities and their locally elected school boards know what is best for their students. Yet school boards across Oklahoma are challenged by many mandates that remove a local board’s ability to act in the best interest of their students and communities. Real strength and survival of our public schools depends on restoring the ability of local parents, citizens and board members to help shape our children’s educational experience.

Read more from this NewsOK editorial at

Quote of the Day

Some of these kids have had friends they saw one day, and the next day they will never see that friend again. There is a constant fear that someone close to them will be taken away from them, and they will have to survive on their own.

OSU Professor Ronald Cox on the impact that immigration laws are having on Latino children.

Number of the Day


Full-time female law enforcement officers in Oklahoma in 2009.

Source: FBI Crime in the U.S. (CIUS) Report

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Cherry picking, flawed assumptions mar GOP report on health reform costs

I explained earlier this month that a recent report from some congressional Republicans grossly exaggerates state Medicaid costs under health reform. Now, in a new analysis, I examine the report’s problems in more detail. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has found that health reform’s Medicaid expansion is a good deal for states. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program will cover an estimated 18 million more low-income adults and children than they do today, most of whom are now uninsured. The federal government will pay 92 percent of the cost of this expansion through 2021. The cost to states over this period will be $60 billion — just 2.6 percent more than what they would have spent on Medicaid without health reform. So how could the recent Republican report, authored by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), claim that states’ cost will be $118 billion through 2023? By cherry-picking worst-case scenarios from various studies, many of them severely flawed.

Read more from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities at

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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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