In The Know: Work requirement targets poor caregivers; Native Americans harmed by opposition to Medicaid; Stitt selects secretary of budget…

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.

In The Know is taking off after today for the holidays. It will return January 3rd. The In The Know elves at OK Policy hope you have a joyful, safe, and fun holiday break!

New from OK Policy

Parole is broken in Oklahoma. Here’s how we fix it: Incarceration is expensive in Oklahoma. The cost of our overcrowded prisons is projected to skyrocket in the next decade. The Department of Corrections requested $1.5 billion next year to address long-neglected repairs and to build a new prison to keep up with the current rate of inmate growth. Typically, states mitigate the cost of prison with parole, allowing offenders to serve the last part of their sentence under community supervision if the offender is no longer a threat to public safety. [OK Policy]

In The News

Oklahoma’s Medicaid work requirement targets poor caregivers: Unlike the five states approved so far, Oklahoma has not expanded Medicaid. The state already has some of the strictest eligibility requirements in the country. A family of three — two parents and one child — become ineligible if they earn more than $9,343 a year. The only non-elderly adults without disabilities on Medicaid in Oklahoma are poor parents or caregivers. [StateImpact Oklahoma] Previously on the OK Policy blog, why Oklahoma’s work rule would harm mostly mothers and children.

Federal report finds state’s Native Americans ‘adversely affected’ by opposition to Medicaid expansion: A federal report released Thursday found Oklahoma’s Native American population has been “adversely affected” by the state government’s decision not to expand Medicaid. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report titled “Broken Promises: Continuing Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans.” It concluded the government has not met its responsibilities to Native Americans because federal spending on programs for them is inadequate. [NewsOK ????]

Stitt selects former state senator for secretary of budget: Former state senator Mike Mazzei is Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt’s nomination for secretary of budget, one of three new cabinet positions that will replace the secretary of finance. “As Secretary of Budget, he will continue to ensure that our fiscal house is in order and that accountability and transparency measures are implemented with the state’s use of Oklahomans’ hard-earned tax dollars,” Stitt said. [NewsOK]

Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt focuses on agency accountability: Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt on Wednesday said he is creating a secretary for agency accountability. He said the person will serve as chief operating officer. “That person will be tasked with working with the different agencies to create these types of performance metrics,” Stitt said. “Our agency heads should know what the indicators are.” [Tulsa World]

Speaker sees opportunity to redirect Legislature’s focus in 2019: House Speaker Charles McCall believes the state Legislature will have the political and financial environment in 2019 to focus on practical policy that will benefit from a “solutions-oriented” crop of lawmakers. “There is no question in my mind that you didn’t pursue this job unless you wanted to come to the Legislature with some solutions,” said McCall, a Republican from Atoka, referring to a grueling election year that saw an increase in competitive races. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma’s House Republicans working to make amends: After a long year of infighting, the House Republican caucus is trying to bury the hatchet. Republicans have held a supermajority in the chamber for years. After this year’s election, the party holds 77 of the 101 seats. The power in numbers has its obvious advantages, but it can present its own problems as well. [Journal Record]

Governor grants nine more sentence reductions: Nine nonviolent offenders who were serving sentences of 10 years or longer received an early Christmas gift on Thursday. Gov. Mary Fallin reduced the sentences of those inmates, who were being assisted through a commutation campaign led by Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform. [NewsOK]

Teacher turned lawmaker believes state surplus should be spent on several entities: As the year comes to an end, Oklahoma is seeing $612 million more in revenue. This is the first time in years our state has seen a surplus in the budget like this. Shortly after this announcement, the Oklahoma Education Association made one of their own saying they need about two-thirds of that money for education. [KTUL]

Oklahoma’s higher education chancellor making the case for a $100 million increase: Chancellor Glen Johnson kicked off a statewide tour Wednesday to explain the $100 million budget increase the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education requested for fiscal year 2020. The first stop on the nine-campus tour was the University of Central Oklahoma. [NewsOK]

Oil price slide could cut state revenues: Oil prices continued their free fall this week as demand fears added to existing concerns of global oversupply. Oklahoma is benefiting from the price increase over the first three quarters of 2018, but the recent price drop could lead to lower state and corporate revenues next year. [NewsOK]

Changes to Insure program may be looming: State officials might consider changes to the Insure Oklahoma program in the coming year because of new membership on the state’s Medicaid agency board and burgeoning work requirement policies. Insure Oklahoma is a program that offers health coverage to low-income residents. Unlike Medicaid, which is also known as SoonerCare, enrollees pay into it in the form of premiums. [Journal Record]

Hamilton: Sticking with what we know works: The governor-elect insists he wants Oklahoma to be a Top 10 education state. The legislative leadership swears school funding remains a top priority. And an improving economy has yielded a projected $612 million more for the 2019-20 budget. A near-perfect scenario for public ed advocates heading into next year’s session? [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

‘Way over black market’: Medical marijuana prices cause some sticker shock as question of taxes still looms: A patient at OKind Medical Marijuana Dispensary on opening day said she knew she would need a lot of cash but had no idea what her purchase might amount to at the Sapulpa retailer. [Tulsa World] Village city officials have formally reduced penalties for simple marijuana possession, doing away with the possibility of jail time. [KFOR]

New Tulsa councilors get primer on Equality Indicators as Hall-Harper continues call for hearings: What is the future of Tulsa’s Equality Indicators? The 54-measure report on social and economic inequalities in the city may yet be the subject of public hearings requested by Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, so new councilors got a crash course on them this week. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Councilor looks to update Tulsa ordinance references to “idiots” and “lunatics”: Tulsa ordinances still refer to “idiots” and “lunatics” when it comes to describing people who will not be punished for violations because of their mental state. City Councilor Ben Kimbro said those words belong in the 1700s. [Public Radio Tulsa]

‘They had a name’: Those who died while homeless in Tulsa remembered at candlelight vigil: One by one, case workers at the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless lit a candle Thursday evening — 26 individual flames creating a larger halo of light. Each candle represented one of the people who died in Tulsa this year without a home. The ceremony, which coincides annually with the longest night of the year, honors those who perhaps didn’t have family or a funeral to commemorate their lives. [Tulsa World] Although the state’s homeless population declined over the past year, more people are spending nights on Oklahoma’s streets, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. [NewsOK ????]

OG&E to purchase power plants for $53 million: Oklahoma Gas & Electric announced Thursday plans to purchase two power plants for $53 million, a move that will save customers money and lower power plant emissions, the company said. Pending approval from state regulators in Oklahoma and Arkansas, the state’s largest electric utility will acquire the Shady Point power plant near Poteau in LeFlore County and the Oklahoma Cogeneration plant in western Oklahoma City. The 360-megawatt Shady Point plant is fueled with coal and natural gas and is owned by Arlington, Virginia-based AES Corporation. [Journal Record ????]

Quote of the Day

“The point they are trying to make is, ‘Work is good, period.’ With no qualifications. It is the same reasoning involved in going from ‘work can have beneficial health effects’ to saying slavery is good. It’s the same reasoning.”

-University of California Professor Paula Braveman, who objected to the way that her research was cited in Oklahoma’s application for a Medicaid work requirement, which exclusively targets very poor parents and caregivers [Source: State Impact Oklahoma]

Number of the Day


Growth rate for state personal income in Oklahoma since the fourth quarter of 2007, adjusted for inflation.

[Source: Pew Charitable Trusts]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What labor market changes have generated inequality and wage suppression? Labor markets in capitalist economies are fundamentally tilted against individual workers’ ability to bargain effectively with employers. Policy does not have to be rigged for employers to give them particular clout in labor markets; instead, the very nature of these labor markets gives them clout. In the past, when economic growth was broadly shared across the population, it was because policymakers understood this basic asymmetry and used policy levers to bolster the leverage and bargaining power of workers. Conversely, recent decades’rise of inequality and anemic wage growth has resulted from a stripping away of these policy bulwarks to workers’ labor market power. [Economic Policy Institute]

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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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