In The Know: Oklahoma Moving Full Steam Ahead to Restrict Adult Medicaid Access

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

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In The News

Oklahoma Moving Full Steam Ahead to Restrict Adult Medicaid Access: Whether through work requirements or a lower earnings cutoff, Oklahoma will almost certainly make it more difficult this year for adults to be on Medicaid. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority will develop work requirements for adults enrolled in SoonerCare. Spokesman Michael McNutt said Gov. Mary Fallin has issued an executive order telling the health care authority to come up with a plan in six months or less. [Public Radio Tulsa] Most Medicaid-eligible adults who can work already do, and ​most of the rest have barriers to employment ​that ​a work requirement won’t fix [OK Policy]

Teachers union issues ultimatum: Oklahoma teachers threatened Thursday to walk out of classrooms and force school closures starting April 2 unless the state increases their base pay by $10,000 over a three-year period. “Schools will stay closed until we get what we’re asking for,” said Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, the union which represents thousands of the state’s public school teachers. [CNHI] Legislative inaction makes a statewide teachers strike possible [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World] 2018 Policy Priority: Increase Teacher Pay [OK Policy]

Community organizations preparing to take care of children if teachers walk out: If Oklahoma lawmakers don’t meet demands for teacher pay raises and increased education funding in the next three weeks, teachers plan to walk off the job on April 2nd. Several community groups are stepping up to make sure kids have a safe place to go and nutritious meals to eat if schools shut down. [Fox25]

Constitutional issues raised by proposal to tap trust funds for Oklahoma teacher bonuses: Scrounging for a way to give teachers pay raises or bonuses without raising taxes, some state lawmakers have set their sights on a $2.4 billion pot of money managed by the Commissioners of the Land Office. About $1.7 billion of that $2.4 billion is held in trust for common schools. The challenge — which could prove insurmountable — is figuring out a way to tap the Land Office’s common schools trust fund for more money each year without violating the Oklahoma Constitution. [The Oklahoman]

State employees consider joining teacher strike: State employees could join Oklahoma teachers in a walkout on April 2 if the Legislature fails to meet a demand for over $800 million in additional funding. Included in its request for an increase in teacher pay and education funding, the Oklahoma Education Association is asking for $213 million to be spent on state employee pay raises. [The Oklahoman] Oklahoma Public Employee Association’s plan to strike could cause state shutdown [KTUL] Turnover of state workers climbing as their salaries fall further behind [OK Policy]

Fallin inks final 2 pieces of Oklahoma’s 2018 budget plan: Fallin on Monday signed one bill to restore $19.8 million in education funding that was determined to have been supplanted with lottery revenue. Another measure provides $31.7 million this year and $110 million next fiscal year to restore lost federal funding for the state’s two medical schools. [AP] Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special sessions [OK Policy]

Despite all the complaining about SQ 640, legislators avoid votes to reform it: When session started I thought legislators would surely submit to a vote of the people a change in the 75 percent requirement for raising taxes by the Legislature. SQ 640, imposing this requirement, is a relic of the 1980s and 1990s when Oklahoma’s economic conditions were similar, but worse than today. [OK Policy] SQ 640 has made Oklahoma ungovernable [OK Policy]

Metro Schools Participate In ‘Breakfast In The Classroom’ Program: Before the start of Breakfast in the Classroom, students had to arrive early to school in order to receive breakfast. And with that, there was a stigma attached to being one of the few in line to get the free meal. [News9] More Oklahoma children could be eating breakfast. This new report outlines how. [OK Policy]

In a trade war over steel, US farmers could be collateral damage: When his turn came to question Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday, Congressman David Young relayed a concern he’d just heard from a farmer in the hallway. “He says, ‘There’s not a day on the farm when a farmer doesn’t touch steel,'” the Republican from Iowa told Mnuchin. [CNN Money]

Who’s behind policy-influencing ads? Tulsa state Rep. Meloyde Blancett wants to know: A Tulsa lawmaker on Friday asked the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to require those sponsoring advertising designed to influence official action to disclose their involvement. Although the five-member panel took no official action on the request from Rep. Meloyde Blancett, members did indicate a willingness to address it in a rule requiring disclosure. [TulsaWorld]

Be wary of political meddling in contracts: Oklahomans should be wary any time legislators try to negate private contracts simply because politicians don’t like the agreement. This is true even when the contracts involve easily demonized insurance companies. [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma lawmakers consider amending election laws: Oklahoma lawmakers are considering several changes to the state’s voting laws, some of which would expand the time available for people to cast their ballots. [The Oklahoman]

The enduring legacy of race in America: The Kerner Report sounded the alarm for ameliorative action, including legislation to promote racial integration and enrich slums — primarily through the creation of jobs, job training programs and decent housing. That call fell largely upon deaf ears. President Johnson, mired in the miasma of Vietnam, eschewed the Kerner Commission’s advice. Chaos ensued. [Hannibal B. Johnson/Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day 

“State employees are tired of being ignored and are angry because state leaders have failed to do their job. They’ve failed again to provide a pay raise for state employees and they’ve failed to sufficiently fund core services. A state employee’s take-home pay shrinks every year and they are fed up with lawmakers who won’t listen. That’s why we’re looking at work stoppages. Just like teachers, state employees are fed up and ready for action.”

– Sterling Zearley, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, on why state employees are considering joining teachers in a walkout (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage decrease in initial Workers Compensation filings by injured Oklahoma workers since lawmakers overhauled the system, from 14,737 in 2012 to 7,705 in 2016.

Source: Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Zombie Crime Stats, Phantom Stats and Frankenstats Paint a Misleading Picture on Crime: In September 2017, newspapers across the country ran headlines of a similar theme: According to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, the agency’s official report on criminal behavior nationwide, crime — or at least violent crime — had risen for the second year in a row. That’s not entirely true. “Violent crime” hadn’t risen. The violent crimes that we count — the so-called “index crimes” of murder/manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault — had risen. Simple assaults? Sexual assaults that don’t rise to the level of rape? We don’t measure those crimes. [In Justice Today]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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