In The Know: Adult daycare centers face cuts, Oklahoma get another REAL ID extension, 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.

Today In The News

Adult daycare centers face cuts, closings in Oklahoma: A brightly colored parachute billows up and down as attendees at a Daily Living Center adult day facility in Oklahoma City bat a balloon back and forth over the parachute. Peppy ’60s-era music plays over speakers while others at the center read newspapers or chat. It’s noisy and cheerful. But this center and others like it are bracing for devastating cuts to their operating budgets in the wake of the Department of Human Service’s $27 million shortfall. Program cuts, which have not yet been announced, are expected to go into effect for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma gets another REAL ID extension: Oklahoma has received another extension to comply with the REAL ID Act, a move that guarantees residents’ ability to access government buildings until October. During the 2017 session, lawmakers quickly adopted a measure to comply with the federal identification card guidelines after avoiding the issue for a decade. If the state doesn’t provide residents with a card that meets a host of security features, Oklahomans could be blocked from entering federal buildings and even boarding commercial flights. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma county jail’s problems to hit home for taxpayers: The problems of the Oklahoma County jail routinely make headlines, but for the most part those problems haven’t impacted the average voter in the county. That changed this week when the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously ordered the county to pay a $3.3 million bill to its jailhouse medical provider. That money will likely be generated through higher property taxes paid by citizens over the next three years. [Editorial Board/The Oklahoman]

Tulsa Dreamers find glimmer of relief in latest Trump action on immigration: For Tulsa young adults stuck in a legal immigration limbo, a cautious optimism was felt Friday as President Donald Trump signaled a possible reversal in his campaign pledge to lift an Obama-era program preventing deportations of people brought to this country as children without approval. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, “will remain in effect,” according to documents released Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security. [Tulsa World]

Plan will delay Medicaid payments: A tentative plan that would preserve health care provider payment rates will likely mean the state won’t be able to afford to pay its doctors, hospitals and nursing homes for up to a month. The proposal, which was called the “lesser of two evils” by at least one observer, has some concerned that it could hurt health care providers who rely on the state to pay its bills in a timely manner. [Norman Transcript] Oklahoma missed out by refusing to expand Medicaid. [OK Policy]

Senator still hopeful on criminal justice reform bills: It is unfair to say that the Oklahoma Legislature got nothing done during the 2017 legislative session, but what didn’t get done usually made the news. Going into the session, criminal justice reform was among the priorities itemized by Gov. Mary Fallin, and the topic seemed popular with lawmakers. Some legislation was passed, but many legislators expected more votes on the issue. Only two of the Senate’s package of eight approved criminal justice reform bills were heard by the House of Representatives – and that pair was sent to Fallin and signed. [Tahlequah Daily Press] Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could have been the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy]

The Legislature engineered this failure, and then punished the victims: The concept is solid: A child spends the first three years in elementary school learning to read, and the rest of his time in school reading to learn. We buy that. Oklahoma’s application of that idea, however, has never worked and the reasons are obvious. To “enforce” the importance of reading standards, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the Reading Sufficiency Act in 1997. The law required third-grade students who don’t pass reading tests be held back for remediation. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

Time for teachers to use their outside voices: Where are the teachers? I don’t blame the teachers who have decided to leave the classroom or leave the state. But are those who are staying willing to fight in Oklahoma for their profession and their children? After four months of wrangling, legislators closed the 2017 session with a so-called “flat” education budget. Many of them wanted to do better, but they could have used a little help. We’re number one in cutting education in the past eight years. [OK Policy] However you count it, Oklahoma’s per pupil education funding is way down [OK Policy]

Board approves 5 percent tuition hike for OSU: Undergraduate students at Oklahoma State University’s Stillwater campus will pay 5 percent more in tuition and mandatory fees under a budget approved Friday by the Board of Regents for OSU and the A&M Colleges. Out-of-state students will pay 5.9 percent more. Meeting at the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, the board approved a $1.3 billion budget for OSU for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That includes state appropriations of $183.7 million, a decrease of $11.9 million from the current fiscal year. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma knows how to build champions, let’s do it in our schools: In Oklahoma, we aren’t building our team to be a champion. We have what it takes; we just refuse to deploy it to improve our team. When it comes to education, taking the long view means building Oklahoma’s education system that will ensure our kids succeed in life and in their careers, and in turn create a stronger Oklahoma. And while our team needs this investment to build a winner over time, our children don’t have time for us to delay the investment. [Adam Kupetsky/Tulsa World]

Wind industry tax credits about to blow away: In two weeks, all new wind projects will lose access to zero-emissions tax credits, and how that’s affecting the industry depends on the company. No companies have sent representatives to 23rd and Lincoln with pitchforks and torches in tow the way oil and gas companies did during the debate over raising gross production taxes on that industry. The bill that summoned an early sunset for wind’s tax breaks passed easily with very little political pushback, and that relative quiet continued after the legislative session. [Journal Record]

Building trust with Tulsa police started nearly a decade ago in this little-known city group: With Tulsa as part of the national discussion on how race intersects with law enforcement, residents wonder what leaders are doing to create partnerships. For nearly a decade, it’s been here — in this group. “We’ve shied away from seeking publicity for so long because we are not doing this to have our names in the paper,” Johnson said. “But, we all agree, it is in our interest that people know about us and let people know things are happening.” [Tulsa World]

What I learned in my first year in the Oklahoma Senate: Someone recently asked how being a college football coach compared to serving in the state Legislature. The answer is that of everything I have done before or since having a career as a coach, serving in the Senate during this past session probably tracked more closely with the skills, challenges and demands faced as a coach than any other career or job I’ve held. The intensity levels, the ability to adapt quickly to a situation, or rearrange a plan if necessary were all required as we moved through the last four months at the Capitol. [Sen. Dave Rader/Tulsa World]

Mike Fina speaks on the challenges and the future of Oklahoma cities: Oklahoma cities — much like the state — are in a financial crisis, says Mike Fina, the new head of the Oklahoma Municipal League. For cities, the crisis is largely due to their dependence on declining sales tax revenues, he said. Oklahoma is unique in that almost all municipal income is drawn from sales taxes. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma City Indian Clinic lands an Avon Breast Health Outreach grant: Breast cancer is a leading cause of death for Native American women. Over the last two decades, Oklahoma City Indian Clinic (OKCIC) has sought partnerships and grants in order prevent and treat this disease. Recently, OKCIC gained a new partner in its efforts to educate and screen more Native American women through the Avon Breast Health Outreach Program. [OK Gazette]

Airbnb to begin collecting taxes in Oklahoma: Airbnb will begin collecting state and local taxes on all applicable bookings in Oklahoma after reaching an agreement with the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Founded in 2008, Airbnb is a community-driven hospitality company which allows customers to book stays online in a variety of listing types with over 3 million listings in 191 countries. Beginning July 1, Airbnb will collect a 4.5 percent state sales tax in addition to collecting local lodging and city taxes in Oklahoma, the company said. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“I was very disappointed. There is a lot of expense in criminal justice. We spent $1.3 billion this year on prisons, and we are incarcerating so many people – a majority of them non-violent. I couldn’t believe those bills got hung up in committee and it kind of made everybody upset. Those bills could save us tens of millions of dollars in the coming years.”

-Sen. Dewayne Pemberton (R-Muskogee) speaking about the Criminal Justice Reform Task Force bills that did not pass the legislature this year (Source)

Number of the Day

$1.26 billion

How much Oklahoma’s FY 2018 appropriated budget is below the FY 2009 budget, adjusted for inflation.

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

America’s prisons are failing. Here’s how to make them work: Shirley Schmitt is no one’s idea of a dangerous criminal. She lived quietly on a farm in Iowa, raising horses and a daughter, until her husband died in 2006. Depressed and suffering from chronic pain, she started using methamphetamine. Unable to afford her habit, she and a group of friends started to make the drug, for their own personal use. She was arrested in 2012, underwent drug treatment, and has been sober ever since. She has never sold drugs for profit, but federal mandatory minimum rules, along with previous convictions for drug possession and livestock neglect, forced the judge to sentence her to ten years in prison. Each year she serves will cost taxpayers roughly $30,000—enough to pay the fees for three struggling students at the University of Iowa. When she gets out she could be old enough to draw a pension. [The Economist]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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