In The Know: March 24, 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, a new report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Oklahoma’s personal income grew by 3.4 percent in 2010, the 15th highest rise nationwide. The growth was led by increases in federal government and military salaries. Twelve recent graduates of the Women in Recovery program for non-violent female drug offenders were honored at the state capitol yesterday. A new documentary to begin filming in April will tell the stories of the Oklahoma City homeless population.

Kenneth Stern looks at Oklahoma’s long history of political fights over the Board of Education since before statehood. Andrew Spiropoulos argues for raising the bar on who can receive the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship, which helps low and medium-income Oklahomans to attend college. NewsOK calls on lawmakers to listen to the chancellor of higher education and reject concealed weapons on campus, and The Journal Record asks them to listen to law enforcement and reject open carry. NewsOK also calls for giving new puppy mill regulations a chance to succeed.

In the Oklahoma Gazette, Blair Humphreys writes that OKC needs to more carefully consider land use if it wants to become a pedestrian-friendly urban center. In today’s Policy Note, the Center for American Progress examines accelerated depreciation, as part of their series explaining the often-confusing constellation of federal tax breaks in a way the average taxpayer can understand.

More below the jump.

In The News

Federal government and military salaries help Oklahoma’s personal income levels rise

Personal income levels in Oklahoma, as in all states, rose in 2010, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce, said in information released Wednesday. That is an improvement from 2009 when the Bureau indicated increases in personal income were recorded in four states and the District of Columbia. Oklahoma’s personal income rose to $136.6 billion from a revised $132.1 billion in 2009, the BEA reported. … Among industries, “the federal government and the military seem to have contributed more to Oklahoma’s growth than to U.S. growth” last year, Lenze said.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

See also: State Personal Income 2010 [PDF] from the Bureau of Economic Analysis

Women in Recovery program graduates 12 at Oklahoma State Capitol

A year ago, Andrea Ballard was a drug-addicted Oklahoma mother locked up in county jail. Now sober and free, Ballard spent Wednesday morning in the governor’s office, where state leaders hailed her as a real-life face of the policy discussions they are having this year about criminal sentencing. Ballard, 27, and 11 other women were honored at the Capitol on Wednesday for completing nine-month stints in Women in Recovery, a privately funded community sentencing program for nonviolent female drug offenders.

Read more from this NewsOK article at

See also: Women in Recovery: Why the program works from CapitolBeatOK

Documentary seeks to combat apathy toward OKC’s homeless

The burgundy Lincoln Towncar, parked nearly in the shadow of the growing Devon Tower in downtown Oklahoma City, had a Bible on the dashboard and a sack of clothes in the back seat. For the last 30 days, the car has served as 23-year-old Antwone Taulton’s home. But Taulton is not one of the hundreds of homeless people in downtown Oklahoma City. He is a man on a mission. In February, Taulton, a student at Baylor University working on his master’s of divinity, took the semester off and began to live the life of a homeless person in order to film a documentary on the plight of the homeless in Oklahoma City.

Read more from this Oklahoma Gazette article at

Politicial fights over the Board of Education have a long history in Oklahoma

Providing the children of the state with a public school education opportunity is one of the most important responsibilities of state government. For the past 121 years Oklahoma has given the supervision of the schools to the territorial/state superintendent and the territorial/state board of education. During Oklahoma’s 17 years of territorial government, 1890-1907, the governor appointed the superintendent of public instruction who also served ex-officio as the territorial auditor. Seven superintendents (six Republicans and one Democrat) served during this period, and not all of their service was free of controversy.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at

Andrew Spiropoulos: Paying for Oklahoma’s Promise

No matter their views on theology, most Americans have an unshakable faith in the transformative power of education. Many Oklahomans, particularly those who pass for our elites, for example, believe that the key to fostering prosperity is, by hook or crook, increasing the percentage of Oklahomans who graduate from college. Unlike in so many other areas of public policy, our leaders’ belief in the importance of a college degree isn’t just talk – they have wagered a large portion of our tax dollars that they are right. Our state has made the extraordinary commitment, called Oklahoma’s Promise, to pay college tuition for every student from a family of modest means (an income of $50,000 or less at the time a student applies for the scholarship) who, while staying out of trouble, has performed decently (a 2.5 grade point average) in a college preparatory curriculum.

Read more from this Journal Record editorial at

NewsOK: Lawmakers should listen to chancellor on gun bill

Glen Johnson has walked the halls of the state Capitol plenty of times. But Johnson, Oklahoma’s higher education chancellor, finds himself there more often than usual this legislative session. Besides educating a new crop of lawmakers about the inner workings of higher education, he is fighting hard to stop proposals to undo a ban on concealed weapons on college campuses. And like other issues that have no tie to jobs or economic development, it’s an unfortunate time drain for Johnson and lawmakers.

Read more from this NewsOK editorial at

See also: Lawmakers should listen to sheriffs and police chiefs and vote against open carry bill from The Journal Record

NewsOK: Legislature should give breeder law a chance to succeed

Cracking down on puppy mills in Oklahoma is proving to be a difficult exercise indeed. After years of trying, those who sought to have state regulations implemented for dog and cat breeders finally succeeded at the Legislature last year with passage of the Commercial Pet Breeders Act. Now the act is under attack. One lawmaker filed a bill to repeal the law, but that effort is dormant. Alive and well is a move to quash the act’s rules, which were created by the Oklahoma State Board of Commercial Pet Breeders and must be approved by the Legislature before the law takes effect in a few months.

Read more from this NewsOK editorial at

Blair Humphreys: OKC must put more value on land use

For years, we have been trying to make downtown Oklahoma City a great place for people. This mission is reaffirmed and restated using a variety of catchphrases — “pedestrian-friendly,” “thriving urban center,” “24/7 community” — that all ultimately mean the same thing: a downtown crowded with people. Despite the progress made as a result of MAPS and the tremendous improvements currently under way through Project 180, we still seem to lose sight of a few fundamental principles of good urbanism, especially the fact that every foot really matters.

Read more from this Oklahoma Gazette editorial at

Quote of the Day

I’m going to be Supermom.

Andrea Ballard, a recent graduate of Women in Recovery, an alternative sentencing program for nonviolent female drug offenders. While serving in the program, she won custody of her children and began studying to be a paralegal.

Number of the Day


Oklahoma births subsidized by SoonerCare in 2009; 63.9 percent of all births in the state.

Source: OHCA

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Tax expenditure of the week: Accelerated depreciation

This week we’re looking at “accelerated depreciation,” the IRS rule allowing businesses to write off the costs of investments faster than they actually wear out. Accelerated depreciation is the set of IRS rules that allow businesses to deduct from their taxable income the declining value of business-related investments, such as equipment and machinery, faster than the value of those assets actually declines. Consider the following example of how accelerated depreciation works: A delivery business purchases a new truck to expand its business and thus increase its revenues each year. But the truck is only expected to last several years before it breaks down.

Read more from the Center for American Progress 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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