In The Know: Commission urges lawmakers to address pension funding

In The KnowIn 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. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that members of the Oklahoma State Pension Commission discussed reforms to address public pensions’ unfunded liabilities.  Oklahoma Policy Institute has previously explained why alarming rhetoric obscures the real progress the state has made in recent years to put our public pensions on sound footing. 

The CEO of the state’s Medicaid agency asked for $149 million in additional funding, said Gov. Mary Fallin and state lawmakers now seem more interested in Medicaid reform.  Objecting parties debated the new workers comp law in front of the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Researchers that panned the states A-F school grading system spoke publicly for the first time before a committee of concerned parents.  Midwest City wants to divert people with mental health issues from their jail and start a program to help connect them with mental health services.

The Number of the Day is the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Oklahoma – 2nd cheapest in the U.S.  In today’s Policy Note, the second installment of OKPolicy’s look at new research on the status of women in the state.  

In The News

Commission urges Oklahoma governor and lawmakers to improve pension funding
Members of the Oklahoma State Pension Commission were united on some issues but divided on others Wednesday as they discussed how to resolve complex problems plaguing Oklahoma’s financially troubled pension systems. Commissioners voted unanimously to send letters to the governor and state lawmakers urging them to pass a law or amend the state constitution to require the Legislature to annually make “actuarially required contributions” to each of the state’s seven public pension plans.

Read more from NewsOK

The pension crisis is over
Oklahoma’s seven public pension systems have a combined unfunded liability of $11.6 billion as of June 30, 2012. This large number alone is often put forward to make the case for doing away with traditional defined benefit pensions for state workers. Others point to the fiscal crisis in cities like Detroit and Stockton, California, or to the size and growth of the federal debt, and draw the conclusion that a major pension overhaul is needed in Oklahoma.

Read more from Oklahoma Policy Institute

Next Oklahoma legislative session may include Medicaid reform
Gov. Mary Fallin and state lawmakers seem interested in Medicaid reform, the CEO of the state’s agency said Thursday. Nico Gomez, CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, said the interest is somewhat motivated by the authority asking for $149 million in additional funding in its budget request.

Read more from NewsOK

Workers comp law should be tossed, Oklahoma Supreme Court justices told
A highly touted workers compensation reform bill should be tossed out for a number of reasons, an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee was told Thursday. Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole, Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, and the Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma filed suit in September seeking to overturn Senate Bill 1062. Passed last legislative session, the measure replaced a court-based workers compensation system with an administrative process and decreased benefits to injured workers.

Read more from Tulsa World

Researchers say state’s A-F grading system is flawed
Oklahoma’s A-F school grading system doesn’t provide a deep enough examination of achievement data to inform schools, teachers and parents about how schools are doing, OU and OSU researchers said Thursday night at a meeting of the Tulsa Area Parents Legislative Action Committee. This was the first time the researchers have spoken publicly about their analysis of the state’s A-F grading system, which was released in mid-October. They concluded that the grading formula is flawed and that the state Legislature’s tweaks last session actually “intensified” the most serious problems.

Read more from Tulsa World

Midwest City creates mental health jail program

Midwest City officials have plans to start a mental health program that they hope reduces the number of repeat offenders they see come through the city jail’s doors. After seeing a continually high number of people arrested who were suffering from mental health issues, city officials proposed that they create a mental health program for the city jail. The city council at Midwest City voted to unanimously approve the program earlier this week.

Read more from NewsOK

Quote of the Day

“[T]he difference between an A and a B is half a question. The difference between an A and an F is less than the difference than between an A and a D. Students who are in F schools have higher achievement in reading on average than students who are in D schools.”

Curt Adams, a senior research scientist at the Oklahoma Center for Education Policy at the University of Oklahoma, on flaws in the state’s A-F school evaluation system

Number of the Day


The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Oklahoma – 2nd cheapest in the U.S.

Source:  Oil Price Information Service

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The State of Oklahoma Women (Part Two): Healthy women, healthy families
This post is the second of a two-part series on the state of women in Oklahoma based on the Center for American Progress’s report “The State of Women in America: A 50-State Analysis of How Women are Faring Across the Nation. (Click here for Part 1). Oklahoma ranked 48th out of 50 overall based on three categories: economic security, leadership, and the health of women and families. The state’s scores for women’s economic security and leadership weren’t terrible, but Oklahoma’s ranking for health of women and families – 50th out of 50 – pushed the state’s overall ranking downward.

Read more from Oklahoma Policy Institute

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