In The Know: Government rejects time extension to comply with REAL ID Act

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.

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Today In The News

Government rejects time extension to comply with REAL ID Act: The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety says the government has rejected the state’s request for an extension of time to comply with the federal REAL ID Act. But the agency said Tuesday the U.S. Department of Homeland Security won’t begin enforcing the act until after Jan. 29. Public safety officials say that afterward, federal agencies will be prohibited from accepting driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by non-compliant states, meaning those without identification that complies with the REAL ID Act won’t be able to enter a federal building, military base or courthouse [Associated Press].

State revenue down again: With personal income tax and other revenue making a correction and sales tax continuing to decline, total General Revenue Fund receipts were 12.4 percent below the September estimate. General Revenue Fund collections in September totaled $452.6 million, which was $64.2 million, or 12.4 percent, below the official estimate upon which the appropriated state budget for the fiscal year ending June 30 was based and $91.5 million, or 16.8 percent, below prior-year collections. Total collections through the first three months of the fiscal year totaled $1.2 billion, which was $16.8 million, or 1.4 percent, above the estimate and $130.2 million, or 9.5 percent, below prior-year collections [Journal Record].

Why $40,000 to $45,000 less is spent on your kid’s education than his Kansas cousin’s: The latest national comparison of per-student spending rates in public schools shows that Oklahoma has fallen even further behind all neighboring states. According to the just-released National Center for Education Statistics annual report, Oklahoma’s annual expenditures now trail the regional average by nearly $1.4 billion — $100 million more than the gap the previous year [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma has cut state funding to schools more than any other state since 2008 [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].

Oklahoma higher education, CareerTech could reap millions from sales tax measure: Supporters of State Question 779 say its focus is clear: The ballot measure would require Oklahoma school districts to give public school teachers $5,000 pay raises. But some critics of the proposed statewide penny sales tax increase worry vague wording in portions of the initiative petition would place almost no restrictions on how higher education and career technology centers could use their share of proceeds, which collectively would receive more than $100 million annually [NewsOK]. See OK Policy’s fact sheet on SQ 779 here.

Oklahoma lawmakers seek more protection for students of for-profit colleges: Oklahoma lawmakers are asking what more they need to do to protect students from disreputable private for-profit colleges. “For-profits do have an important role, and the overwhelming majority do a very good job in serving the community,” said Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid. However, a few “bad actors” have left students burdened with debt but no degree, Caldwell said. Juan Manuel Navarro, 31, of Bethany, told lawmakers studying the issue that he has $27,000 in student loan debt [NewsOK].

SNAP is working to feed Oklahoma’s Children: Hundreds of thousands of Oklahoma families are able to put enough food on the table because of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). But research increasingly shows that it accomplishes much more than that. Growing up in poverty is shown to have serious, long-term effects on children — especially during the earliest years of a child’s life. Unfortunately, already-high poverty rates in Oklahoma are highest among Oklahoma children. Parents of young children tend to earn less because they are early in their careers, and because child care has become increasingly unaffordable, they often must leave a job or cut back on their hours to care for their kids [OK Policy].

Health clinics pinched with fewer state dollars: A man went to a hospital emergency room here 75 times before turning up in Lou Carmichael’s health clinic. Her staff realized that his only reason for visiting the ER so many times — and running up thousands of dollars in medical bills — was because he couldn’t afford the $10 co-pay for inhalers he needed to stabilize his allergies. The hospital gave him one every time he was discharged. Carmichael, CEO of Variety Care, which operates 16 clinics in five counties, said her staff helped the man pay for his inhalers, and he hasn’t returned to the ER since [Enid News]. Oklahoma’s uninsured rate has improved, but still lags behind the nation [OK Policy].

Citizen Potawatomi Nation sues feds over $800,000 in health costs: The Citizen Potawatomi Nation claims the federal government owes it nearly $800,000 for providing health services to tribal members last year. As part of its self-determination agreement with the government, CPN is reimbursed for costs associated with its health care operations like outpatient treatment, emergency medical services, pharmacies, addiction medicine, dentistry, behavioral health and other specialties. CPN serves about 9,500 patients each year [Journal Record].

Oklahoma high court OKs pension law change: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled a law that shifted thousands of newly hired state employees into a new 401(k)-style retirement system was appropriately passed by the Legislature in 2014. The state’s highest court on Tuesday unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that the Legislature’s passage of the bill did not violate a law that requires pension bills to follow certain guidelines. The state’s highest court, however, returned the case to the trial court to consider whether the new pension law amounted to an illegal expenditure of public funds [Associated Press].

US Supreme Court Reverses Oklahoman’s Death Penalty Ruling: The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday reversed a state appeals court ruling that affirmed the death sentence for an Oklahoma man convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of a 25-year-old woman and her two children. The nation’s highest court ruled that a McClain County judge should not have allowed relatives of the victims to tell members of a 12-member jury their opinions on an appropriate sentence for Shaun Michael Bosse, 33. Bosse was convicted and sentenced to death for the July 23, 2010, deaths of Katrina Griffin and her children, 8-year-old Christian and 6-year-old Chastity [Associated Press].

Oklahoma City attorney argues against turnpike bond measure: Appearing before an Oklahoma Supreme Court referee Tuesday, Jerry Fent argued against the sale of bonds to fund turnpike expansion and improvement, saying that would run afoul of the state constitution. Representing the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, Jered Davidson said such financing has been common as the turnpike system has expanded over the years. He said there is no legal prohibition against it [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“I feel like I was robbed of my benefits by going to an institution that shut their door in my face. I don’t feel that I deserve that. I don’t feel like anybody deserves it.”

-Tim Stevenson, who lost all of his credits when the for-profit college he was enrolled at closed with little warning in September (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect in Oklahoma, 2012

Source: Oklahoma Department of Human Services

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Medicaid Expansion In 2014 Did Not Increase Emergency Department Use But Did Change Insurance Payer Mix: In 2014 twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia had expanded Medicaid eligibility while federal and state-based Marketplaces in every state made subsidized private health insurance available to qualified individuals. As a result, about seventeen million previously uninsured Americans gained health insurance in 2014. Many policy makers had predicted that Medicaid expansion would lead to greatly increased use of hospital emergency departments (EDs). This research suggests that expanding Medicaid did not significantly increase or decrease overall ED visit volume [Health Affairs].

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Ryan Gentzler worked at OK Policy from January 2016 until November 2022. He last served as the organization's Reserach Director and oversaw Open Justice Oklahoma. He began at OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues, including sentencing, incarceration, court fines and fees, and pretrial detention. Open Justice Oklahoma grew out of Ryan’s groundbreaking analysis of court records, which was used to inform critical policy debates. A native Nebraskan, he holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Oklahoma and a BA in Institutions and Policy from William Jewell College. He served as an OK Policy Research Fellow in 2014-2015.

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