In The Know: Oklahoma DHS seeks $42M cash infusion to prevent furloughs, rate cuts

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

Oklahoma DHS seeks $42M cash infusion to prevent furloughs, rate cuts: The director of Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services says the agency could be forced to furlough workers or cut provider rates if it doesn’t receive an infusion of more than $42 million before the current fiscal year ends in June. DHS Director Ed Lake presented his agency’s budget request to lawmakers on Monday, urging them to pass a supplemental appropriation bill after they reconvene next month [Associated Press].

Oklahoma revenue slumps two years in a row: Revenue to Oklahoma’s government contracted for the second calendar year in a row, according to figures released by Treasurer Ken Miller. The continued downturn in state receipts is blamed on a less active oil and gas sector, but the treasury has shown positive signs from that industry over the past three months. On Monday, Miller said one silver lining of the data pouring into his office is that December tax collections from energy production rose more than 4 percent over the same month last year [NewsOK].

Answering the call: Oklahoma continues effort to recruit foster parents: Ashley Kehl kept a watchful eye on her foster daughter as the little girl bounded back and forth from her bedroom to the living room, carrying book after book, her small feet pattering against the hardwood floor. As the 2-year-old girl flipped through the pages of a “Wizard of Oz” book, she paused at a picture of the Cowardly Lion [NewsOK].

192,000 Oklahomans Get Health Insurance Through Affordable Care Act: Congress is moving full speed ahead to try and repeal Obamacare before President-elect Donald Trump is even inaugurated. This as Trump says he’ll have more details about his plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, about 192,000 Oklahomans get their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and more than 80% receive federal subsidies to help pay their premiums [News9].

Health is more than health care: When we think about achieving good health, it’s natural to think of visits to the doctor for “checkups” and age-appropriate interventions like vaccinations or cancer screening. But here’s something you might not know: The “health care system” as we know it, an American industry on which we collectively spend $3 trillion annually, only accounts for one-fifth of our overall health [John Henning Schumann / Tulsa World].

Popularity of four day school weeks growing amid cuts: Leaders of the Little Axe Public Schools recently found themselves in a budgetary dilemma. Should their district just east of Norman cut three teachers to shave $100,000 from a $10 million budget? Or should it save the jobs and squeeze the school schedule to four-day weeks? The district with 1,284 students opted for the latter, beginning this year on a Monday-through-Thursday schedule. Superintendent Jay Thomas said the abbreviated week “has been a really good deal.” [Norman Transcript]

3 districts hold bond issue elections Tuesday: Officials in three Oklahoma City metro-area school districts are asking voters to approve bond issues Tuesday. In Rush Springs, voters will consider a $10.3 million bond issue for construction projects around the district. Voters in the Bethel School District will see a pair of proposed bond issues on the ballot: a $760,000 bond issue for construction projects and a $265,000 bond issue for transportation equipment. In the North Rock Creek School District, voters will consider a $20.91 million bond issue for construction projects [NewsOK].

Under proposed bill, violent elementary school students subject to suspension: Some elementary school students who assault teachers and other school employees would face out-of-school suspensions under new legislation proposed by an Oklahoma lawmaker. State Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, recently filed Senate Bill 81, which would expand the list of students subject to suspension for violent acts to include third-, fourth- and fifth-graders [NewsOK].

Oil-rich Oklahoma still under financial pressure: The revenue stream for the shale-rich state of Oklahoma shows lingering, but easing, pressure from the energy sector downturn, the state treasurer said. Oklahoma is one of the more prolific producers of crude oil in the United States, accounting for about 4 percent of the nation’s total. A downturn in crude oil prices in early 2016 put negative pressure on state coffers and State Treasurer Ken Miller said Oklahoma was still playing catch-up [United Press International].

Oklahoma lawmakers to get Real ID problems behind them: Having rejected the same common-sense proposal a year ago, Oklahoma lawmakers apparently will get another opportunity in 2017 to give motorists the option of making their driver’s licenses compliant with federal law. This is an issue the state needs to put in its rear-view mirror. The Real ID Act was approved by Congress in 2005 in response to the 9/11 attacks, and was intended to make it more difficult for criminals to obtain fake identification cards. Oklahoma lawmakers flatly rejected it in 2007, citing concerns about government overreach, privacy and compliance costs [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman].

Quote of the Day

“A third consecutive month of rising gross production collections is beginning to look like a positive trend. If oil and gas prices continue to rise, we anticipate increased economic activity with added oil-field jobs, which should spur improvements in other state revenue sources including sales and income.”

-State Treasurer Ken Miller (Source)

Number of the Day


Average jail stay, in days, for men who were admitted into the Oklahoma County Jail in 2015. Women stayed an average of 15 days.

Source: Vera Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How does our discriminatory criminal justice system affect children? On any school day, one in ten African American children has a parent behind bars; African American children are six times as likely as white children to have had an imprisoned parent. Although young African American men are no more likely to use or sell drugs than young white men, young African American men are nearly three times as likely as white men to be arrested for drug use or sale; once arrested, they are more likely to be sentenced; and once sentenced, their jail or prison terms are typically 50 percent longer [Economic Policy Institute].

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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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