In the Know: Personal income in Oklahoma ranks near the top for 2nd quarter

In 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 you should know that Oklahoma ranked fourth-highest in the nation in personal income growth from April to June of this year, marking the second consecutive quarter the state has ranked in the top five.  Even as economic indicators bring news of continued improvement overall, the OK Policy Blog reports on new Census data that poverty is on the rise in Oklahoma and many of the state’s low-income residents are being left behind by the economic recovery.  Governor Fallin announced a plan to increase the number of college graduates in Oklahoma by 20,000 over twelve years.

Labor Commissioner Mark Costello faces ongoing criticism for calling government employees “feral hogs” and other remarks regarding public workers.  The Oklahoma Supreme Court is seeking comment on a proposed rule to overhaul public court records to remove personal identification numbers.  The assistant state attorney general rebuked the Human Services Commission for raising co-pays on low-income parents receiving child-care subsidies from the state without first holding public hearings and notifying stakeholders.

Oklahoma State Bond Advisor Jim Joseph told the House Appropriations and Budget Committee that Oklahoma’s bond indebtedness is below that of most states.  In Today’s Policy Note, the AARP reports that material conditions have deteriorated significantly for older households during the last decade.  Today’s Number of the Day is the number of children in Oklahoma who are eligible for Medicaid (SoonerCare), but are not enrolled.

In The News

Oklahoma’s personal income growth again ranks near the top

Oklahoma’s personal income growth was among the nation’s best in the April-to-June period, the second straight quarter Oklahoma’s ranking has been among the top five states.  The state’s average personal income growth of 1.7 percent was the fourth-highest among all states, according to estimates released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Oklahoma’s growth rate was fifth in the nation in the first quarter.  Federal officials said farming, durable goods manufacturing and mining (which includes energy) produced the biggest boost to personal income among states with growth rates ranked near the top.  That was true for Oklahoma, where manufacturing and energy each produced the biggest second-quarter bumps to local personal income. Hepner said much of the growth in manufacturing likely is related to activity in the energy field.

Read more from NewsOK at

Poverty rises in Oklahoma; children especially bearing the brunt

Despite Oklahoma’s comparatively modest unemployment rate and steady wage growth over the last two years, many of the state’s low income residents continue to be left behind by the economic recovery.  There were 616,610 people living in poverty in 2010 – about one in six Oklahomans.  These data show that despite experiencing a comparatively less severe recession than most other states, the situation for those at the bottom in Oklahoma is more fragile than ever.  For thousands of families living in poverty, it’s a struggle to pay even basic household expenses, and social services like the food stamp program are crucial to their well-being.  We cannot lose sight of our poorest and most vulnerable residents in the coming months and years, even as economic indicators bring welcome news of continued improvement overall.

Read more from the OK Policy blog at

Governor Outlines Initiative To Boost Oklahoma College Grad Rates

Experts speculate by the end of this decade 60 percent of jobs will require a college education. But only a third of Oklahomans fit that bill. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin wants to change that.  Governor Fallin says college grads are the key to attracting businesses to the state. She announced an initiative Thursday to add 20,000 more over the next 12 years.  Thousands of Oklahoma students march across college graduation stages every year. But state leaders say the majority never make it.  “Oklahoma is not producing enough college graduates and that’s a disadvantage to Oklahoma,” Governor Fallin said.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

State Democrats organize to oppose Labor Commissioner Mark Costello

State Democratic party Chairman Wallace Collins is calling a 501 c 4 lobbying group formed by Commissioner of Labor Mark Costello “shady.”  The Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA) has also criticitzed Costello’s recent comments.  Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre has objected to Costello’s use of “feral hogs” in reference to government employees and benefits programs. This week she reiterated a call for Costello to resign, commenting, “He is a state official who is responsible for the lives of many people in this state, and he could’ve chosen any other word than pigs.”  Senator Jerry Ellis, a Democrat from Valliant, assailed Costello’s use of the “hogs” analogy, saying,  “The next time the state is burning down, don’t call a firefighter, call the hogs.”

Read more from CapitolBeatOK at

State supreme court proposes limiting public access to personal info

Court officials are again proposing a sweeping rule to remove personal information such as dates of birth from Oklahoma criminal and civil court records, prompting concern from former Attorney General Drew Edmondson and others.  The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued the proposed rule Wednesday, noting it was seeking comment from media groups, prosecutors, business groups, government agencies and others possibly affected by the rule.  Edmondson raised concerns about the proposed change and its impact on residents.  “I have concerns about any rule or legislation that limits the public’s right to know. I am hopeful that the court will be very careful in weighing the interest in openness against whatever perceived harm may be caused by publishing that information.” He said as a prosecutor, having access to identifiers such as dates of birth on criminal court records is important when filing charges.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

DHS rebuked on child care policy changes

A letter from an assistant state attorney general states that the commission overseeing the Oklahoma Department of Human Services should have used rulemaking to raise co-payments and change eligibility in the agency’s child-care subsidy programs.  The Human Services Commission approved the changes at a June 14 meeting as part of its budget. But two commissioners voted against the move, arguing that more notice should have been given to clients and child-care providers.  At issue is whether the co-payments are considered “fees” or “rates,” which carry different standards for amending.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

House budget committee considers debt level, needs

Oklahoma’s bond indebtedness is below that of most states, members of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee were told Thursday, which could permit the state to borrow more assuming it has the ability to repay the loans.  “We just don’t have a lot of debt relative to our ability to pay,” Oklahoma State Bond Advisor Jim Joseph told the committee during its consideration of House Interim Study 2011H-087, bond and fund indebtedness. The study was requested and directed by Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs.  Joseph, however, emphasized that he was not suggesting that the state borrow more money. Instead, he reminded the committee’s members, “We can’t add more debt without adding more debt service.”

Read more from OETA at

Quote of the Day

The next time the state is burning down, don’t call a firefighter, call the hogs.

Senator Jerry Ellis, in response to Labor Commissioner Mark Costello’s remarks that public workers are like ‘feral hogs’

Number of the Day


Number of children in Oklahoma who are eligible for Medicaid (SoonerCare), but are not enrolled, 2011


See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Housing for Older Adults: The Impacts of the Recession

The data show that conditions have deteriorated significantly for older households during the last decade. Older homeowners and renters face greater affordability issues, and many low-income households face more unsustainable housing costs since the housing crisis and recession that began in 2007. Disability rates, family structures, foreclosure rates, and the age of homes are other factors that have shifted in the decade, as older households adapt to face new and continuing challenges.

Read more from the AARP at


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.