In The Know: Oklahoma House approves state budget plan

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 the state House passed and sent to the Senate a $7.1 billion general appropriations bill for FY 2014.  A bill that sought to use federal Medicaid money in Oklahoma while skirting some federal rules will not be considered by the legislature.  Meanwhile, a consultant hired by the state says that his firm’s “Oklahoma Plan” alternative to Medicaid expansion won’t be ready until 2015.

The OK Policy Blog shows why the new budget plan continues the trend of underfunding education in Oklahoma; the state aid funding formula has not kept up with inflation or rising enrollment for half a decade. Legislators in the House scrambled to craft and pass a plan to raise state troopers’ pay, although it’s not immediately clear how the raise would be paid for.

The Pew Research Center reports on the record share of Hispanic high school graduates enrolling in college in 2012.  The Number of the Day is the amount below five years ago going into Oklahoma’s state aid school funding formula.

In The News

Oklahoma House approves $7.1 billion state budget plan
The state House passed and sent to the Senate on Thursday the $7.1 billion general appropriations bill for the budget year beginning July 1. The total is $267.2 million, or about 4 percent, more than current appropriations – the largest increase since the beginning of the 2008 recession. Most of the new money would go to common education and public buildings, including $60 million for repairing the Capitol.

Read more from Tulsa World

Alternate Medicaid funding bill sidelined for the rest of session
Senate Bill 640 – which seeks to bring “Obamacare” Medicaid money to the state without objectionable federal rules – will not be considered by the Oklahoma Legislature this year, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said Thursday. “I don’t think we have given our members a chance to properly vet the bill,” Bingman, R-Sapulpa, told reporters after the end of the legislative week. “Throwing some language out the last week of session is not a good approach.”

Read more from Tulsa World

Oklahoma’s alternative to ‘Obamacare’ unlikely before January 2015, consultant says
The “Oklahoma Plan” alternative to “Obamacare” surely won’t be ready to go in effect before the beginning of 2015, a consultant told the state’s Medicaid oversight board Thursday. In the interim, the state should not give up on its Insure Oklahoma program just because federal officials have initially rejected extending its life, Michael Deily told the Oklahoma Health Care Authority board. Deily, senior adviser for Leavitt Partners, outlined preliminary elements of a possible Oklahoma Plan, many of which resemble Insure Oklahoma and a plan recently approved for Arkansas by federal healthcare officials.

Read more from Tulsa World

Proposed education budget leaves schools in a hole
Educating school-age children is the state of Oklahoma’s biggest responsibility. But in recent years, our investment in education has been on a severe decline. Since 2008, Oklahoma has made the third largest cuts to per pupil spending in the nation, behind only Arizona and Alabama. Faced with an avalanche of criticism from parents and schools over these cuts, lawmakers are claiming to have boosted education funding for 2014. The proposed budget does include additional money to cover rising health care costs and various education reforms. However, it would provide little new support for the most basic budget needs of schools.

Read more from OKPolicy Blog

Oklahoma House scrambles for state trooper pay hike
The House of Representatives on Thursday put together a hastily crafted plan to raise state troopers’ pay. The action came during the House’s consideration of a $7.1 billion state budget bill for fiscal year 2014 that didn’t contain raises for troopers or other employees. The measure passed the House by a 59-40 vote and heads to the Senate. On Tuesday, more than 100 troopers were at the Capitol asking lawmakers to reconsider the decision not to include the pay raises in the budget bill after another measure, House Bill 2145, containing the raises easily passed both chambers, indicating widespread legislative support.

Read more from Tulsa World

Quote of the Day

“How do I go back after this passes and look my schoolteachers, my corrections workers, my troopers in the eye?  We’ve got a skinny, skinny ox pulling the plow.”

Rep. Mike Brown (D-Tahlequah), on the state budget plan

Number of the Day

$200 million

Amount below five years ago going into Oklahoma’s state aid school funding formula; enrollment has increased by more than 30,000 students.

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Hispanic High School Graduates Pass Whites in Rate of College Enrollment

A record seven-in-ten (69%) Hispanic high school graduates in the class of 2012 enrolled in college that fall, two percentage points higher than the rate (67%) among their white counterparts, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.  This milestone is the result of a long-term increase in Hispanic college-going that accelerated with the onset of the recession in 2008 (Fry and Lopez, 2012). The rate among white high school graduates, by contrast, has declined slightly since 2008.

Read more from Pew Research Center

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