In The Know: Format change for Medicaid services could cost state federal funds

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.

Check out OK Policy’s resources for the Legislative session, including Advocacy Alerts, the Legislative Primer, the What’s That? Glossary, and Online Budget Guide.

Today In The News

Format change for Medicaid services could cost state federal funds: Oklahoma could unintentionally lose hundreds of millions of dollars after privatizing part of its Medicaid system, health care experts said. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is preparing to select a company that will eventually coordinate care for the state’s aged, blind and disabled population. However, a recently adopted federal rule cuts off an important revenue source for states that move to a managed care system. [Tulsa World]

Repeal push complicates state efforts to get ObamaCare waivers: A number of states are readying blueprints for substantial changes under an ObamaCare waiver program, but a renewed push to repeal the law is complicating their plans. The Affordable Care Act’s 1332 State Innovation Waiver lets states skip some of the law’s regulations if their healthcare plan covers a comparable number of people without increasing the federal deficit. States can apply for the waivers starting this year. But a revived attempt to repeal the health law is throwing a wrench in those plans, since states don’t know what a new bill will entail. [The Hill]

Oklahoma DHS expresses concerns about ‘ potentially devastating service reductions’ in 2018: Officials say even if DHS receives a ‘flat appropriation’ for the upcoming fiscal year of $680 million, the agency would be forced to cut more than $50 million in services beginning on July 1. “With the recent state revenue failure and the lead time necessary to enact many of our budget options, we may have to begin implementing some of these plans sooner rather than later.” [KFOR] See Director Ed Lake’s previous statement on the impact of proposed budget cuts for DHS.

Lamb Files Paperwork For 2018 Governor’s Race: Oklahomans for Lamb, 2018, the campaign committee of Republican Todd Lamb, has filed a ‘Statement of Organization’ with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission for the lieutenant governor’s possible campaign for Oklahoma governor in 2018. Lamb, an Enid native, was elected lieutenant governor in 2010 and reelected in 2014, carrying all 77 counties. [The Okie]

“Sanctuary cities” generally safer, many law enforcement groups believe: The main reason cited for adopting “sanctuary” policies involves maintaining good relationships between local police authorities and immigrant communities. Not requiring local police officers to function as surrogate enforcers of federal immigration laws helps eliminate fears among immigrants about reporting criminal activities. They also claim this permits communities to focus limited policing resources on serious criminal activity. [The Oklahoman]

Want to Email Your State Representative? First Fill Out the Form: A change to the Oklahoma House website removed legislators’ public email addresses and replaced them with a contact form that some critics believe will restrict access to lawmakers. The House replaced public emails with online forms that require senders to disclose their first and last names, address and telephone number – information that previously wasn’t required to email lawmakers. [Oklahoma Watch]

State’s tax burden one of lowest in nation: As the deadline nears for filing income tax returns, Oklahomans might find some solace in the findings of a new study that shows their overall state tax burden is among the lowest in the nation. When compared with other states, Oklahoma ranked 47th in the nation with regard to the overall tax burden. [Muskogee Phoenix]

Tulsa County officials ask for money to do things state used to do: Early in her administration, Gov. Mary Fallin often talked of “right-sizing” state government. “Right-size” was recognized as generally meaning “downsize.” Whether by design or accident, that goal is apparently being accomplishing through shrinking state revenue resulting in double-digit budget cuts to most departments and agencies. But less state government doesn’t necessarily mean less government period, as towns, cities and counties are discovering. [Tulsa World]

Criminal justice reforms face critical juncture in Oklahoma Legislature: Oklahoma criminal justice reform advocates are ecstatic — almost giddy. In less than two months, a dozen separate bills crafted with the overarching goal of lowering the state’s high incarceration rate while simultaneously improving public safety have received initial favorable votes in the House or Senate and are awaiting further action. [The Oklahoman] See our analysis of the Justice Reform Task Force recommendations here.

Public education, public health is inextricably linked in Oklahoma City: Public education and public health are inextricably linked. In fact, research shows that educational attainment is directly correlated to life expectancy. We need citizens to be educated to be healthy and we need healthy students to attain higher levels of education. [Mary Mélon/NewsOK]

Prosperity district idea unpopular with those who voted against SQ 777: A growing number of organizations are lining up against legislation pending in the Oklahoma Senate that critics describe as a legislative scheme to strip the power from voters who derailed the so-called Right to Farm Act at the ballot box. House Bill 2132 — model legislation backed by a Houston-based advocacy group pushing an overhaul of the U.S. Constitution — would create what supporters describe as prosperity districts. [Muskogee Phoenix] See our blog post about HB 2132 here.

State and City Begin To Benefit from Amazon Sales: Officials in this revenue-short state are sharpening their pencils in anticipation of increased sales tax revenues garnered through online sales. Oklahoma has joined a growing list of states that collect sales taxes on purchases made through online retail giant Amazon. Amazon began collecting sales tax for Oklahoma sales on March 1. [The Ponca City News]

Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem: Budget “Right on Schedule”: With seven weeks to go until the 56th Oklahoma legislature adjourns for the year, the state is yet to see a budget from lawmakers. They’ve also missed the statutory deadline to pass an education budget for the 13th year in a row.Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said there’s no need to panic. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State Officials Disclosing Fewer Facts Than Ever About Their Personal Finances: Each year, Oklahoma legislators and statewide elected officials must report details about their personal finances to alert the public to potential conflicts of interest. This year, however, they generally will be asked to report fewer facts than ever – that is, since the disclosure rules were approved in 1994. [Oklahoma Watch]

Legal pot would raise some, but not enough revenue for shortfall: House Speaker Charles McCall can’t help but laugh when asked if his Republican caucus members are considering legalizing marijuana to help fill the state’s gaping budget hole. But industry observers say a growing number of cash-strapped states and municipalities across the country are turning to legalization — and the heftier taxes lawmakers can tack onto marijuana sales — to help fill their own budget gaps and to pay for popular programs like education. [Stillwater News Press]

Oklahoma’s college students spend over $22 million more to learn what they didn’t master in high school: Each fall, many Oklahoma high school graduates enter in-state colleges and universities with achievement deficits. In 2015, just over 40 percent, or about 6,734 of the 16,796 college freshmen who graduated from 461 Oklahoma public high schools, enrolled in a remedial class, according to Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. [Oklahoma Gazette]

New study ranks Tulsa in top 5 cities for first time homebuyers: Tulsa is the 5th best city for first time homebuyers in 2017, according to a new report from SmartAsset. Oklahoma City ranked at number 2 behind Pittsburgh. The study examined seven key metrics in each city to determine rankings: Mortgage lenders, value per square foot, loan funding rate, affordability ratio, market volatility, negative quarters since 2011 and homeowner stability index. [Fox23]

Quote of the Day

“I understand the state is struggling, but the county is, too. We can’t afford to keep subsidizing the state.”

– Dennis Semler, Tulsa County Treasurer, on the shifting of the costs of government from the state to counties and cities (Source)

Number of the Day


Change in Oklahomans’ personal income between 2015 and 2016, one of six states with negative growth

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How does nutrition affect children’s school performance?: As politicians debate spending and cuts in President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, there have been questions about the effects of nutrition programs for kids. From before birth and through the school years, there are decades-old food programs designed to make sure children won’t go hungry. Experts agree that the nutrition provided to millions of children through school meal programs is invaluable for their health. [CNN]

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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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