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

Former Oklahoma governors endorse Step Up package: Members of one of Oklahoma’s most exclusive clubs, the state’s five living former governors, have unanimously endorsed Step Up Oklahoma’s package of proposals to resolve the state budget impasse and provide teacher pay raises. [Tulsa World] Step Up Oklahoma plan adds to the consensus that new revenues are essential [OK Policy]

Oklahoma nursing home closing due to lack of funding: Officials say 20 residents in an Oklahoma nursing home will have to find a new place to stay due to the ongoing budget crisis. While the next regular session is just weeks away, Oklahoma lawmakers are still struggling to agree on a budget. In the meantime, officials at a local nursing home say a lack of funds is leading to the closure of one of Pawhuska’s largest employers. [KFOR] The doomsday scenario has already begun — but it can be stopped [OK Policy]

From Teacher Pay to Free Speech, Education Bills Queue Up for Session: With the start of the 2018 legislative session eight days away, lawmakers have submitted a flurry of proposals related to education. They range from the expected — proposed salary boosts and other financial compensation for teachers — to the unexpected, like bills to allow schools to sell and place ads on school buses and to permit students to apply their own sunscreen. [Oklahoma Watch] Another year goes by, and Oklahoma still leads the nation for cuts to education [OK Policy]

Legislative action preventing federal income tax change from blowing a $375 million hole in state budget: December’s federal income tax reform bill would have decreased Oklahoma’s state income tax revenue by $375 million had legislators not “decoupled” from the federal standard deduction last year, analysts say. “Had we not decoupled, the state would have been bringing in $375 million less this year,” said David Blatt of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, citing the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. [Tulsa World]

More than 6,000 Oklahoma Dreamers in danger: On March 8, hundreds of thousands of young people will lose their legal status in the only home they’ve ever known, the United States. On that day, unless Congress takes action, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will expire. They will face deportation to countries where many of them have no family or friends and might never have visited since leaving as children. [Julie Ward/Tulsa World] Congress must pass the Dream Act to protect young Oklahomans and our economy [OK Policy]

Oklahomans don’t want to pay what it costs to keep incarcerating so many: We are holding in prison 673 per 100,000 Oklahoma residents. The national average is 397 per 100,000. If Oklahoma incarcerated our people at the national average, there would be 11,020 fewer inmates in our prisons at a cost of $48 per day. Doing the math, if we were just average in incarceration, neither high nor low, the savings to the state budget would be $193 million! [OK Policy] Justice Reform Task Force recommendations could be the solution Oklahoma desperately needs [OK Policy]

The Tulsa World agenda for the 2018 Oklahoma Legislature: What might turn out to be the most important legislative session for a generation will convene Feb. 5. With public schools, the state health department and the prison system in shambles and other vital state services barely surviving, lawmakers face a monumental number of tasks. Here is the Tulsa World’s legislative agenda for 2018. [Tulsa World]

Public education, it’s worth saving: Oklahoma ranks dismally low in all education statistics. That, of course, is certainly not good news for parents and their children, and it does the state’s reputation no good when it comes to attracting new businesses and young people to the state. [Mike Jones/Tulsa World]

Survey of educators who have left Oklahoma draws local response: A new study on people holding Oklahoma teaching certificates but not teaching in the state shows low pay and classroom management were the biggest reasons people chose not to teach in Oklahoma. Local educators and teacher advocates said this wasn’t surprising. [Norman Transcript]

Income tax plan would raise revenue, but most taxpayers would see no increase: Proposed changes to Oklahoma’s income tax law would raise millions, but most Oklahomans would either see their income taxes go down or stay the same. Fifty-five percent of individuals filing Oklahoma tax returns would see either a decrease or no change in their state income taxes, according to Rep. Kevin Wallace’s figures. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

Oklahoma’s foster home capacity outpaces other states: The number of available foster homes in Oklahoma rose by more than 3,300 over the past five years, a figure that dwarfs other states’ growth. A nationwide report from the Chronicle of Social Change shows Oklahoma reported a foster care capacity for 5,612 children last year. Only 25 states were included in the report because others did not respond to the nonprofit’s requests or handed over incomplete data. [The Oklahoman]

A line-item budget requirement would force legislators to make choices and take responsibility: Through the general appropriations ruse, lawmakers accomplish a lot, but little for the good of Oklahoma. They bypass the governor’s line-item veto power. When money is tight, they can routinely underfund critical state services, but leave the hard decisions to the bureaucrats. [Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]

Education is the key to building a better Oklahoma: Oklahoma is in competition for businesses, jobs and families. A teacher pay raise is a strategic investment. Children — and educators — in Oklahoma are worth just as much as those in other states, and our competitive standing as a state is hurt by the failure to ensure a high-quality, well-trained teacher for each and every student. [Shawn Hime/The Oklahoman] Two big myths that distort Oklahoma’s education funding debate [OK Policy]

Quote of the Day

“Our current level of funding is one of the lowest in the nation. If we want to provide for our seniors and allow them to live in dignity and comfort, the current budget situation is unsustainable. We have got to get these facilities more resources or we will see more closures and more displacement of vulnerable and frail Oklahomans. I hope our lawmakers are paying attention and discussing solutions. Our senior citizens need to know that help is on the way.”

– Nico Gomez, CEO of the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers, pointing out that Oklahoma nursing homes have lost over $93 million in state and federal appropriations since 2010 (Source)

Number of the Day

10.8%

Percentage of Oklahoma jobs in “Professional & Business Services”, below the national average of 14.2%. (Dec. ’17)

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Two Lessons of the Urban Crime Decline: Over the past few years, the discussion of crime and violence in the United States has focused on police brutality, mass incarceration and the sharp rise in violence in cities like Baltimore, St. Louis and Chicago. This is entirely appropriate: Any spike in violence should garner attention, and redressing the injustices of our criminal justice system is a matter of moral urgency. But it is also worth reflecting on how much the level of violence has fallen in this country over the past 25 years and how widespread the benefits of that decline have been. [NY Times]

 

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