In The Know: Fallin plan would cut doctor rates, medical services for the poor

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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

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Today you should know that Governor Mary Fallin’s plan to cut state funding for Medicaid is expected to result in fewer benefits and lower reimbursement rates to doctors that serve the poor. KGOU examined the repercussions of the Governor’s call for 5 percent cuts to most state agencies. On the OK Policy Blog, we provided an in-depth analysis of the Governor’s budget, and David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed a fairer way to balance the budget by reigning in unnecessary tax breaks.

 Oklahoma counties are pushing for a new severance tax on gravel mining to help mitigate the damage to public roads and the environment caused by the mines. The parents of two Moore schoolchildren killed in the May tornadoes are suing Governor Fallin over the governor’s failure to release records about safety precautions in schools. 

Democratic lawmakers called for tapping Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund to help Oklahomans struggling to pay for propane in the recent cold snap. Abortion rates fell in Oklahoma and across the nation due to increased use of contraceptives. Four candidates have filed to run for mayor in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma’s House of Representatives will vote on Monday to elect a new speaker.

The Number of the Day is how much Governor Fallin’s FY 2015 budget proposal would cut Medicaid, slightly more than the revenue loss from her proposed tax cut for top earners. In today’s Policy Note, E.J. Dionne explains why latest controversy about Obamacare’s effect on jobs is based on a dishonest reading of Congressional Budget Office findings.

In The News

Fallin plan would cut doctor rates, medical services for the poor

Gov. Mary Fallin’s plan to cut state spending on health care is expected to result in fewer benefits and a reduction in reimbursement rates to doctors that provide medical services to the poor. Fallin has proposed a 5 percent reduction in state appropriations to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the agency that oversees the Medicaid program. That amounts to a $47 million cut to the agency’s budget at a time when the federal health care law is driving tens of thousands of low-income Oklahomans into the program.

Read more from the Muskogee Phoenix.

Most agencies could take 5 percent cut to make up for shortfall

Five percent. That’s how much the governor is asking most entities in state government to cut their budgets. The number should not be much of a surprise. The amount of money available for state lawmakers to spend for the next fiscal year was already down about $171 million over the current year’s figure. And Fallin’s secretary of finance Preston Doerflinger had been telling them cuts were coming. But the current reductions come after years of belt tightening and corner cutting, at least from the perspective of those running the agencies.

Read more from KGOU.

The Governor’s budget in-depth: Budget cuts plus tax cuts don’t add up

With state agencies and schools still struggling to climb out of deep budget holes from the last recession, Governor Mary Fallin’s FY 2015 Executive Budget proposes even deeper cuts that could seriously harm our families and our economy. With initial estimates showing $170 million less available for the FY 2015 budget, it was clear that the Governor faced hard choices. Under her proposed budget, total FY 2015 appropriations would be $7.022 billion. This is $137 million, or 1.9 percent, less than the FY 2014 budget.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Hit the breaks

At her State of the State this week, Gov. Mary Fallin recommended another round of budget cuts for agencies that are still trying to dig their way out of the last downturn. There is a fairer way to balance the budget: by curbing tax breaks for horizontal oil and gas drilling that have become unnecessary and unaffordable. The cost of this tax break is escalating rapidly and is expected to surpass $250 million this year. It comes at the direct expense of our schools, prisons, child welfare workers and other core services.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Mining companies might find it’s not impossible to raise taxes in Oklahoma

Gary Green drives on county roads pockmarked by trucks loaded with limestone, and through clouds of dust thrown up by rock being crushed into gravel and sand. “When I first came here, back to the west there were very few lights. It was dark. You could see the stars. Now when I drive in my driveway, back to the west, it looks like a small city from all the lights from the mines,” Green says. It’s not that Johnston County residents want the out-of-state companies to leave — well, some do — but many agree they should be getting something more for sacrificing the county’s natural resources.

Read more from StateImpact Oklahoma.

Parents of children killed in Moore tornado sue Governor Fallin over access to records

The parents of two Moore schoolchildren killed in the May tornadoes are suing the governor, alleging violations of the Oklahoma Open Records Act pertaining to safety precautions in schools. The lawsuit, filed Monday in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of Mikki Davis and Danni Legg, accuses Gov. Mary Fallin of denying access to public records pertaining to measures taken to ensure the safety of children during severe weather or violent attacks, according to the petition. The open records request was filed Nov. 7 on behalf of Take Shelter Oklahoma, an advocacy group that aims to put storm shelters in all Oklahoma schools.

Read more from NewsOK.

Democrats want state to help with rising propane costs

Several Democratic lawmakers want to tap Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund to help Oklahomans struggling to pay for propane amid a recent cold snap. Rep. James Lockhart of Heavener said he intends to offer a resolution urging the state’s Republican leadership to provide some relief for more than 400,000 state residents who rely on propane for heat. Lockhart said colder temperatures and higher propane prices are creating a hardship for many state residents, who already are strapped for cash after the holidays.

Read more from NewsOK.

Abortion rates show decline in Oklahoma, nation

As is the trend across America, the number of abortions performed annually in Oklahoma is declining. An estimated 7.9 abortions per 1,000 women were performed in Oklahoma in 2011, according to a report from the Guttmacher Institute. Oklahoma’s rate remains below the national average, which was 16.9 in 2011. Many states, including Oklahoma, have passed stricter abortion laws in recent years. However, the authors the report on abortion rates said new abortion laws do not appear to be the cause for the declining rate.

Read more from Capital City OK.

Four candidates file for OKC mayor race

Oklahoma City’s upcoming mayoral election will be one of the most important in many years, two of the leading candidates said. As expected, OKC incumbent Mayor Mick Cornett will seek a record fourth term, but he has got plenty of challengers, most notably spinal surgeon and Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid. Retired businessman Joe “Sarge” Nelson, the last to file for office Friday, and Phil Hughes, owner of Hughes Synergies Co., up the race to four candidates.

Read more from the Oklahoma Gazette.

House will vote on Speaker next Monday

Oklahoma’s House of Representatives will vote on Monday to elect a new speaker. Rep. T.W. Shannon resigned his position as speaker on Tuesday as he campaigns for the U.S. Senate. Rep. Pam Peterson offered a motion on Wednesday to hold an election for speaker on Monday. While the motion passed 76-9, Rep. Mike Reynolds argued that an election should be held today.

Read more from Capital City OK.

Quote of the Day

I think they have to address it, and she didn’t even talk about it. So, you know, it seems like they’re going to continue to ignore it and pretend that there isn’t an issue. I think it’s totally irresponsible and people keep saying nobody’s going to do anything around here until there is another riot or somebody gets killed, and I think, unfortunately, that’s probably true.

-Oklahoma Corrections Professionals President Sean Wallace, speaking about staffing shortages in Oklahoma’s prisons following Governor Mary Fallin’s State of the State Address (Source:

Number of the Day

$47.7 million

How much Governor Fallin’s FY 2015 budget proposal would cut Medicaid, slightly more than the revenue loss from her proposed tax cut for top earners ($47.4 million). 

Source: Governor Mary Fallin

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Willful stupidity in the Obamacare debate

One of the best arguments for health-insurance reform is that our traditional employer-based system often locked people into jobs they wanted to leave but couldn’t because they feared they wouldn’t be able to get affordable coverage elsewhere. This worry was pronounced for people with preexisting conditions, but it was not limited to them. Consider families with young children in which one parent would like to get out of the formal labor market for a while to take care of the kids. In the old system, the choices of such couples were constrained if only one of the two received employer-provided family coverage.

Read more from The Washington Post.

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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.

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