In The Know: Oklahoma ‘alternative’ likely costs taxpayers more than Medicaid expansion

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 state leaders’ proposed ‘alternative’ plan to insure low-income Oklahomans would likely cost the state’s taxpayers more than accepting federal Medicaid expansion.  Gov. Fallin says it’s still possible that a special session of the Oklahoma Legislature may be called.  House Speaker T.W. Shannon approved 68 interim legislative studies.

The Tulsa County Jail continues to struggle with severe overcrowding.  The Department of Corrections will hold a ceremony unveiling a memorial honoring slain corrections workers.  Businessweek examines ongoing security concerns at privately-run prisons across the nation.  The Oklahoman Editorial Board agrees it’s time to seriously evaluate the merits of oil and gas drilling tax credits.  

The resignation of Education Secretary Phyllis Hudecki leaves three vacancies in the governor’s traditional 15-person Cabinet.  Gov. Fallin filed paperwork with the state ethics commission establishing a re-election campaign committee, but declined to formally announce she is running for re-election.  In addition to the 26,000 civilian workers at the base facing furloughs, Tinker Air Force Base officials are hoping 750 employees will accept buyouts at their aircraft maintenance center.

In today’s Policy Note, Economic Policy Institute estimates the income an Oklahoma family needs to attain a modest standard of living (accounting for the costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes) with the 2013 Family Budget Calculator.  The Number of the Day is the number of Oklahoma counties where the unemployment rate increased in May 2013.

In The News

Alternate health insurance plan for poor could cost more than Medicaid expansion
One of the toughest tasks before advocates of a plan to use federal and state money to purchase private insurance coverage for poor Oklahomans will be convincing legislative skeptics – and the federal government – that it won’t cost more than expanding Medicaid. Last month, Leavitt Partners presented a report to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority for several changes, including a private insurance subsidy plan. Federal Medicaid expansion money from the Affordable Care Act and state tobacco tax revenue would be combined to pay for the insurance.

Read more from Tulsa World 

Fallin says special session possible
A special legislative session to address lawsuit reform and “maybe some other issues” remains a possibility, Gov. Mary Fallin said Friday. “A special session is an option I am looking at,” she said in response to an audience question at a Tulsa Regional Chamber luncheon. “I’ve talked to the speaker and the pro tem about the possibility of a special session to fix what I consider one of our most important pieces of legislation.”

Read more from Tulsa World 

Oklahoma House speaker approves requests for 68 interim studies
House Speaker T.W. Shannon on Friday approved 68 of 134 requests for interim studies. Shannon approved a study requested by Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, to look at state employee pay and a system of awarding raises based on performance. Osborn also got approval for another study to evaluate how the state classifies nonviolent and violent felonies. Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, secured approval to study privacy issues associated with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones.

Read more from Tulsa World 

Tulsa officials say 45-day limit on jail transfers legally required
The Tulsa Jail has been overcrowded for nearly a year. Friday’s inmate count was approximately 1,750, 36 over official capacity and 100 over the functional capacity of 1,650. That included 120 DOC inmates. Albin said it’s not unusual for DOC-ready inmates to spend more than 180 days in the jail, so a requirement that DOC inmates be picked up within 45 days would help. “As it stands now, we have no clue how many inmates they’re going to pull or who they are going to pull,” he said. “We don’t know whether they’re going to take males, females. This way we’ll know.”

Read more from Tulsa World

Slain Oklahoma corrections workers to be honored with memorial
Jeffrey Matthew McCoy was 32 years old with a wife and two young children when he was shot and killed on May 18, 2012, while doing a field visit as a probation and parole officer. On Friday, he and 19 other Department of Corrections employees who made the ultimate sacrifice will be remembered and honored at the dedication of the Oklahoma Correctional Memorial on the grounds of the agency’s administration building in Oklahoma City. McCoy came from a family of correctional employees. His grandfather, Bill Benge, is a retired correctional officer. His father, Patrick McCoy, is a retired DOC educator. His mother, Genese McCoy, is the DOC medical service administrator.

Read more from Tulsa World 

Gangs Ruled Prison as For-Profit Model Put Blood on Floor
In the four privately run prisons holding Mississippi (BEESMS) inmates last year, the assault rate was three times higher on average than in state-run lockups. None was as violent as the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility. The for-profit detention center, surrounded by razor wire and near the forests and farms of central Mississippi, had 27 assaults per 100 offenders last year, more than any other prison in the state, according to an April court filing.

Read more from Bloomberg News 

Time is right for Oklahoma policymakers to discuss merits of drilling tax credit
State Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger is among officials who question the continued need for the credit. A conservative view is that upping the take from gross production taxes could help average citizens pay lower income taxes. The Oklahoma Policy Institute, a longtime foe of the credit, would rather the money go to state services than to tax cuts. Regardless of where it goes, the time is right to discuss ending a well-intentioned but perhaps anachronistic tax credit. Doerflinger isn’t pushing elimination of the credits so much as he is urging a serious discussion of the matter.

Read more from NewsOK 

As Fallin shuffles Cabinet, education secretary will be tough to replace
Gov. Mary Fallin is looking to shake up her Cabinet. “We’re realigning all of it,” Fallin said Friday after a Tulsa Regional Chamber speech to some 1,000 people at the Cox Business Center. Fallin’s Cabinet is going through a natural evolution. Last week’s resignation of Education Secretary Phyllis Hudecki left three vacancies in the governor’s 15-person Cabinet. Secretary of Energy Michael Ming and Secretary of Environment Gary Sherrer stepped down earlier this summer.

Read more from Tulsa World

Re-election step
Gov. Mary Fallin has filed paperwork with the state ethics commission establishing a 2014 re-election campaign committee, but she apparently is not yet ready to formally announce she’s running for re-election. Given the chance to declare her intentions at Friday’s Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Fallin said she might – “but not today.” Fallin has no declared opponent.

Read more from Tulsa World 

Tinker Air Force Base targets 750 for buyouts in Oklahoma
Tinker Air Force Base officials are hoping 750 blue-collar employees will accept buyouts this fall as the aircraft maintenance center tries to align its workforce with the workload. Civilian workers targeted for the early retirement and voluntary separation programs began receiving notices early this month to gauge interest. The effective dates for those who accept are expected to be in October or November.

Read more from NewsOK 

Quote of the Day

“There were nights when I was captain when I walked all night long, all night by myself.  There was no one in the control centers. They kept saying we had to economize.”

Berl Goff, former prison captain at Geo Group Inc., the second-largest private prison company in the U.S.

Number of the Day


The number of counties in Oklahoma (all of the state’s counties) where the unemployment rate increased in May 2013; statewide the unemployment rate rose in May for the first time since July 2012

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics via OESC

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What Families Need to Get By: EPI’s Family Budget Calculator
EPI’s Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children).

Read more from Economic Policy Institute

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.