In The Know: We don’t know if the Quality Jobs program is paying off

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 the Oklahoma Department of Commerce refused to reveal how they calculated that the Quality Jobs Program is paying off for the state, as independent researchers found the program has had little effect on economic growth. The Thoughts regarding #OklaED blog explained how statements defending A-F grades by Governor Fallin and Superintendent Barresi contradict what the state Department of Education’s website says about A-F. The okeducationtruths blog fact-checked a candidate forum speech by Superintendent Barresi.

Oklahoma Watch examines Oklahoma’s struggle to find enough mental health professionals as the Affordable Care Act greatly expands mental health coverage. The Tulsa World discussed why Oklahoma Medicaid needs another $150 million just to stay even. The Ada News discussed a push by legislators to impose term limits on the state Supreme Court.

The Number of the Day is the percentage of Oklahomans who enrolled in a 4-year college or university in 2005 that had graduated as of 2011. In today’s Policy Note, The American Prospect examined a promising new policy for helping low-income families save for emergencies that is being bottled up in the US House of Representatives.

In The News

We don’t know if the Quality Jobs program is paying off

Oklahoma’s Quality Jobs Program began in 1993 and has paid “incentives” of over $877 million to a variety of companies since that time. In FY 2013 alone, it paid out $78.9 million. The law requires the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to evaluate whether the benefits of the Quality Jobs payments outweigh this cost. As reported by the Oklahoman, they claim the program has resulted in a net benefit of $24 million to the state over three years. I was interested to know how they determined that net benefit, so I contacted the Commerce Department.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

A-F defenders and state Department of Education make contradictory statements about grading system

An interesting phenomenon happened this week with regards to the A-F grading transition system. The 3 biggest players in Oklahoma politics lined up to defend the A-F accountability system. Our Governor, Secretary of Education, and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction wrote OP-EDs, conducted interviews on TV shows, wrote letters, and held press conferences in an attempt to defend the system and it’s catastrophic implementation. Here is the thing; although they each defended the system, they should have choreographed their message. I’ll use their words to make my point.

Read more from Thoughts Regarding #OklaED.

Fact-checking Janet Barresi’s candidate forum speech

Over the weekend, the Republican Party held a state superintendent candidate forum in the 2nd District. The incumbent, Janet Barresi delivers a bizarre string of insults and inaccuracies that lasts over 30 minutes. I understand the nature of campaigning – especially in a primary. Politicians have to energize the base. They have to deliver the red meat. Here’s one educator’s overview of her remarks, in case you don’t want to sit through the whole thing.

Read more from okeducationtruths.

Mental health coverage expands, but are there enough providers?

The Affordable Care Act isn’t just about access to primary care physicians and prescription drugs. It also requires insurers to provide benefits to people with mental illness, emotional disorders and substance abuse problems. But some health professionals are worried there might not be enough psychiatrists and psychologists to go around. According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, every county in Oklahoma except one, Grady, has one or more “health professional shortage areas” for mental health practitioners. Most counties also have shortage areas for primary care providers as well.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

Oklahoma’s Medicaid prices are rising

The state’s Medicaid agency needs nearly $150 million just to stay even. That doesn’t buy the state any new services. It doesn’t expand coverage limits. It just funds doing what we’re already doing for people in the same circumstance as we’re already covering. Roughly a third of that is the price of good fortune. The state is more economically prosperous than it used to be, so the federal government’s share of the program’s costs went down and the state’s share went up. Another chunk is needed to replace one-time funding that was used to operate the Oklahoma Health Care Authority this year. The rest is the result of the rising cost of health care. Except in the broadest sense, this isn’t about “Obamacare.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Are term limits coming to the Oklahoma Supreme Court?

A major issue on the horizon is whether to limit the terms of office of members of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Currently, justices are appointed for a life term and residents vote to retain judges every six years. Since the retention system was put into place in 1969, no judge has been removed through the process. Last session, Senator Clark Jolley and Representative Jason Murphey proposed a constitutional amendment that would limit a judge’s tenure to twenty years. The measure passed the Senate but was not heard in the House Judiciary Committee. The 70 people who had the pleasure of listening to Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon’s speech on ECU’s campus this month learned that the issue is not dead.

Read more from The Ada News.

Quote of the Day

If there were insurance, I think there would be enough professionals. The problem is so many people in Oklahoma are either not insured or underinsured. Unfortunately, even therapy goes where the money is.

-Philip Hyde, a clinical psychologist in Oklahoma City, speaking about the shortage of mental health professionals in Oklahoma (Source:

Number of the Day

43 percent

Percentage of Oklahomans that enrolled in a 4-year college or university in 2005 that had graduated as of 2011, versus 56 percent nationally

Source: Alliance for Excellent Education

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Poor, with savings

Being poor is expensive. A winter heating bill that comes due before the paycheck arrives can compel a trip to a payday lender who charges 350 percent interest. It takes the entire paycheck to pay off that loan in a week—emptying out the bank account and requiring yet another visit to the lender. A child who is too sick to go to school for a week may need her single father to stay home with her, costing him a quarter of his monthly income. He’s overdue on the rent and the bills, so he’s responsible for late fees as well. Even a few hundred dollars in a savings account could help low-income families weather such predictable but unavoidable crises.

Read more from The American Prospect.

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


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.