[In The Know] State revenue collections up twelve percent in the first 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 gperry@okpolicy.org. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

General revenue tax collections were up 12.1 percent in the first quarter of this fiscal year.  The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty held a news conference at the state Capitol yesterday; Oklahoma ranks 4th in the nation in number of death row exonerations.  Oklahoma City schools are experimenting with new ways to improve education standards in one of the nation’s poorest school districts.

The Native American Times profiles Cherokee freedmen families fight to stay in the tribe.  Protesters outside the State Labor Department object to derogatory comments made by Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.  Protesters also camped out in Kerr Park to begin an Occupy OKC demonstration.  The OK Policy Blog interviews Steven Dow about recent controversy at the Oklahoma Commission for Human Services.

Oklahoma Watch takes an in depth look at the state’s coal tax credits.  In today’s Policy Note, researchers discover that immigration is correlated with falling crime rates.  Today’s Number of the Day is the number of foreclosures in Oklahoma in August compared to the same month in 2010.

In The News

State tax revenue jumps 12 percent

Oklahoma’s general revenue fund tax collections were up 12.1 percent in the first quarter of this fiscal year, Preston Doerflinger, director of the Office of State Finance, said Monday.  Collections, led by growth in income tax revenue, exceeded $1.3 billion for the first three months of the fiscal year that began in July – $143.1 million more than during the same period last year  Total tax collections for the general revenue fund in September were $526.2 million. The figure is $66.5 million – or 14.5 percent – above collections for the same month last year.  “Our growth has been propelled by particularly strong income tax collections, reflecting hiring across many sectors, continued activity in the oil patch and an uptick in manufacturing jobs,” said Doerflinger, Gov. Mary Fallin’s finance secretary. “We have also seen steady growth in sales taxes.”

Read more from the Tulsa World at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=336&articleid=20111011_16_A1_OKLAHO220147&rss_lnk=12

Oklahoma death-penalty critics point out problems

The Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty held a Capitol news conference in connection with “World Day Against the Death Penalty,” which began in 2003, said Kenny Fikes, co-chairman of the state group.  Since 1973, 138 death-row inmates in 26 states have been exonerated, said Susan Sharp, a University of Oklahoma professor and author. “We are No. 4,” Sharp said. “We have had 10 in the state of Oklahoma, but being No. 4 is misleading because we are much smaller than the first three states, Florida, Texas and Illinois. But per capita, we are more like No. 1.”   Faulty witness testimony, improper forensics, failure to preserve evidence and false confessions contribute to wrongful convictions, Sharp said.

Read more from Tulsa World at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=336&articleid=20111011_16_A7_OKLAHO225168

Oklahoma City district trying new ways to raise student performance

OKLAHOMA City School District officials face an unenviable task of improving education standards in one of the nation’s poorest school districts. We give them credit for thinking out of the box and trying new ideas, even if some seem extreme.  The district’s new strategic plan attacks parental apathy by calling for laws that require parental participation in a student’s education. If parents fail to show up for a parent-teacher conference, for instance, they could face a fine.   Superintendent Karl Springer believes this is a crucial time for the district as it implements the strategic plan and other initiatives. “We just don’t want to take 10 years to do what we can get done in a year or a year and a half,” he told The Oklahoman’s editorial board last week.

Read more from NewsOK at http://newsok.com/oklahoma-city-district-trying-new-ways-to-raise-student-performance/article/3612150#ixzz1aTkJKkL7

Slave descendants fight to stay in tribe

More than a century after her grandfather got the number, White is telling the story of her ancestors’ servitude as she fights along with 2,800 other descendants of Indian slaves across the country to be embraced as full members of the tribe.  Just as many white Americans owned black slaves until after the U.S. Civil War, so did some Cherokee tribesmen. The practice generally ended with an 1866 treaty that afforded freed slaves the same rights as native Cherokees.  But leaders of the Cherokee Nation, one of the largest and most influential American tribes, have been trying to change that policy by declaring that the descendants should not be considered Cherokee citizens unless they can show proof of Indian blood.

Read more from Native American Times at http://www.nativetimes.com/life/people/6151-slave-descendants-fight-to-stay-in-tribe

Protesters Demonstrate In Front of State Labor Department

Close to a hundred protesters gathered outside the State Labor Department Monday afternoon protesting alleged derogatory comments made by Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.  The President of the State AFL-CIO, Jim Curry, says at the group’s state convention last week, members decided to vote “No Confidence” against Commissioner Costello for allegedly calling state workers “Feral Hogs”…  “He’s engaging in name calling and other things that have nothing to do with the office of Labor Commissioner.  Rather than going out to these worksites and checking for workers’ compensation coverage.”

Read more from KTOK at http://www.ktok.com/cc-common/news/sections/newsarticle.html?feed=119211&article=9233599

Occupy Wall Street movement reaches Oklahoma City

Trenary obtained a three-day permit for the group to occupy Kerr Park, and said that permit may be extended on a day-by-day basis. Organizers brought in a portable toilet for participants, who may erect tents and use bullhorns during their stay, Trenary said. Some brought hammocks and sleeping bags to the park, which was ringed with signs featuring mottos of the movement.  About 300 people attended the group’s organizational meeting last week in Kerr Park, said Trenary, who expects the crowd to grow in the coming days.  “This is just the very start,” he said.

Read more from NewsOK at http://newsok.com/occupy-wall-street-movement-reaches-oklahoma-city/article/3612282#ixzz1aTnMFfqZ

Interview with Steven Dow: Rules are rules

David Blatt:   Could you describe the concerns that gave rise to the Attorney General’s letter?  Steven Dow:  Well, the concerns were not related to the wisdom of the policy but rather to the question of whether or not procedurally the DHS Commission was acting properly in revising the child care eligibility and co-payment schedule. It was my understanding that according to Oklahoma law, in order to change the eligibility standards and the co-pay schedule, we were required to follow the Administrative Procedures Act .  So that question was posed to the Attorney General’s office, not in the form of an actual binding AG’s opinion but to get their ‘advice’.

Read more from OK Policy at https://okpolicy.org/interview-with-steven-dow-rules-are-rules/

Oklahoma coal tax credits feel the heat

Since the late 1980s coal companies operating in the state have received transferable tax credits. In just over 20 years those credits have grown times ten, causing a few Oklahoma lawmakers to question the worth of tax incentives for what some are calling a small and dying industry.  Right now the state is paying for $10 of every $50 of coal that’s mined and burned in Oklahoma. While Vice President of Farrell-Cooper Mining Company Bob Cooper openly admits he isn’t currently using the credit, he is quick to defend it.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch at http://oklahomawatch.org/story.php?sid=82

Quote of the Day

Part of the reason people are still dependent on these services is because they are the descendants of slaves, who have been denied the opportunity of intergenerational wealth.

Carla Pratt, a law professor at Pennsylvania State University who studies the freedmen issue

Number of the Day


Number of foreclosures in Oklahoma in August, down 5.8 percent from the same month in 2010

Source: RealtyTrac via RealEstateInvestorDaily.com

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Is Immigration Responsible for the Crime Drop? An Assessment of the Influence of Immigration on Changes in Violent Crime Between 1990 and 2000

The idea that immigration increases crime rates has historically occupied an important role in criminological theory and has been central to the public and political discourses and debates on immigration policy. In contrast to the common sentiment, some scholars have recently questioned whether the increase in immigration between 1990 and 2000 may have actually been responsible for part of the national decrease in crime during the 1990s. The current work evaluates the influence of immigration on crime in urban areas across the United States between 1990 and 2000.

Read more from Social Science Quarterly at http://www.jjay.cuny.edu/Wadsworth.pdf

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