In The Know: Reactions to governor’s proposed block grant approach to Medicaid expansion and more

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.

New from OK Policy

OK Policy statement about proposed Medicaid expansion alternative in Oklahoma: During comments in Washington D.C. on Thursday, Gov. Stitt laid out the tenets for his health care plan to counter Medicaid expansion efforts. The plan includes elements that will inevitably draw lawsuits from health care organizations and advocates who fight to protect the rights and coverage for low-income residents. [OK Policy]

It’s past time to support our retired public servants: Retired Oklahoma state and local public servants have now gone 10 years without a cost of living adjustment, while inflation has eaten away at their income.  They dedicated their lives to making our state better. Now it’s past time to repay our debt to them. We should start on this by providing a long-overdue cost of living adjustment. [OK Policy]

(Capitol Update) It’s time to re-examine the Youthful Offender Act: The Office of Juvenile Affairs leadership has announced plans to push through amendments to Youthful Offender Act (YOA) in the upcoming session. The YOA, originally passed in 1994, is the product of a time of immense public dissatisfaction of juvenile crime. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

In The News

At Medicaid block grants announcement, Stitt pitches SQ 802 alternative: Gov. Kevin Stitt announced on Thursday his support of a Trump administration Medicaid plan that would permit block grants to fund an Oklahoma health care plan he called SoonerCare 2.0. [NonDoc] OK Policy Director Carly Putnam said charging a premium for SoonerCare defeats its purpose of providing affordable coverage to low-income people. [Public Radio Tulsa] Amber England, Campaign Manager for Yes on 802, the state question that will ask voters to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma, said Stitt’s plan comes up short. [The Oklahoman] Republican and Democratic leaders in Oklahoma’s House and Senate responded to the governor’s proposal. [The Oklahoman]

Tulsa World editorial: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Medicaid 2.0 proposal is less than Oklahomans deserve and less than we’re paying for: We were disappointed by Gov. Kevin Stitt’s announcement that he was buying into a Medicaid block grant program that will give working poor Oklahomans less than they deserve, less than people in other states are getting and less than Oklahoma taxpayers are paying for. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Healthcare, education and COLAs to be on the table when lawmakers return Monday: State retirees might get a cost-of-living adjustment after being disappointed last legislative session. The issue was discussed Thursday during a legislative forum hosted by The Associated Press. [Tulsa World] OK Policy has identified a cost-of-living adjustment for state retirees as a focus area for the 2020 Legislative session

State lawmakers highlight priorities: The clock is ticking this year for lawmakers to address pressing issues left unresolved for so long voters have decided to take matters into their own hands, legislative leaders from both parties agreed at Thursday’s Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Legislative Breakfast. [The Journal Record ????]

Mental health vacancy, tribal gaming compacts, four-day school weeks & more: This week’s episode discusses the announcement from Mental Health and Substance Abuse Commissioner Terri White stepping down from her position, and the House Speaker opposing Gov. Stitt by saying the tribal gaming compacts automatically renewed for another 15 years on January 1st. [KOSU]

The Oklahoman Editorial Board: White’s departure as mental health director a blow for Oklahoma: Terri White has announced her departure as head of the state’s mental health department, leaving to someone else the job of advocating for those battling mental illness and substance abuse. Her successor will be hard pressed to match White’s passion and professionalism. [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Senate leader takes no stand on tribal gaming compacts: While three of the state’s legislative leaders say the gaming compacts with the state automatically renewed, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat isn’t so sure. [Tulsa World]

State Department of Education asks Oklahoma lawmakers for $220 million increase: The Oklahoma State Department of Education is seeking a $3.3 billion budget in fiscal year 2021. That would be $220 million more than this year, a 7 percent increase. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said almost $118 million of that would go into the funding formula. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Mick Cornett: It’s your EITC refund, Oklahoma City. Go claim it: With another tax season upon us, Oklahomans are facing a choice: bring millions of dollars back into their homes and communities or leave that money in Washington, D.C. I think the choice is simple, and I’m seeing an opportunity too big to miss, too important for our communities and for our city, and too simple to pass by. [Mick Cornett / The Oklahoman] Jan. 31, 2020 is EITC Awareness Day to raise awareness about this national and state tax credit for workers. 

Scott Duke Kominers: Work requirements for food assistance is cruel and ineffective: The state has hoped that introducing work requirements would increase employment among SNAP beneficiaries and reduce reliance on food stamps, which ballooned during the Great Recession. The results aren’t heartening. [Scott Duke Kominers / Tulsa World]

‘Campus carry’ bill won’t get far, GOP leaders say: Republican leadership in the Oklahoma Legislature have assured Oklahoma City’s business community that a proposed campus carry bill won’t make it far this year. [The Oklahoman]

Lawmaker files bill to remove Legislature exemption from Open Meetings Act: State Rep. Ben Loring, D-Miami, has introduced legislation to promote transparency in the Legislature. House Bill 2914 would require both the state House and Senate follow the Open Meetings Act. [Enid News & Eagle]

Oklahoma bill would prohibit email scanning: House Bill 2810 would prohibit email service providers from scanning subject lines or the body of any email communication sent to its users, and from letting any other entity do so. [Media Post]

State senator looking to get rid of medical marijuana billboards in Oklahoma: Oklahoma State Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, is looking to put a stop to medical marijuana billboards in the state. He sponsored Senate Bill 1257, which would prohibit medical marijuana billboards. [KTUL]

KOCO Chronicle: Oklahoma’s Innocent: KOCO takes a look inside the Oklahoma Innocence Project, into the lives torn apart by wrongful convictions, the emotional memories and the quest for answers. [KOCO]

Tulsa Public Schools administrators grilled over proposed Indian education changes: Tulsa Public Schools administrators endured hours of heated scrutiny and ire from opponents of a proposed reorganization to the district’s Indian Education Program during a community meeting Thursday night. [Tulsa World]

Seeking another $25 million in savings, OU pursues utility change: The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents held a series of committee discussions ahead of its full meeting today, which emphasized a continued commitment to reducing costs, limiting tuition and fee increases and a proposed change in ownership of OU’s power production facilities. [NonDoc]

Saltwater purge among priorities for OEPA: An ongoing saltwater purge in Blaine and Kingfisher counties and the relationship between horizontal and vertical drillers will be among the issues the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance will take up during the upcoming legislative session. [The Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“(A) direct expansion has gone through the court process, while the governor’s plan has not. Oklahomans are tired of waiting on their government to do what is right. A straight expansion of Medicaid is the easiest way to increase access to health care in the state, and it has been proven to work in other states.”

-House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-OKC, in a joint statement about Gov. Stitt’s proposed health care plan [NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Amount lost by a family of two adults and two children when the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) was made nonrefundable in 2016.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

State EITCs make work pay for people of color and women: Even as our economy is growing, many people of color and women are struggling to get by on low wages. States can help make work pay by creating or expanding Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs). [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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