In The Know: Oklahoma DOC out of public prison space, seeks $31.5M for rising inmate population

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.

Today you should know that the Oklahoma Corrections Department says it is currently out of public prison space and will seek $31.5 million in additional funds next year to pay for offenders placed in private prisons. Oklahoma’s gross revenue collections for October were up 7 percent over last year, but money going to the state’s general revenue fund was still down due to dollars being diverted for capitol repairs, road and bridge repairs, and payments to the oil and gas industry.

The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Oklahoma’s appeal of a decision that found a law restricting the use of abortion-inducing drugs was unconstitutional. Governor Fallin wrote a letter to the Tulsa World defending the state’s controversial A-F grading system for schools. The okeducationtruths blog writes that Governor Fallin completely missed the point of A-F critics.

The OK Policy Blog shared a video on how U.S. public policy has discriminated against people of color who are seeking to become homeowners. The Number of the Day is the percentage of bookings in Tulsa County Jail that involved a failure to pay court fines and fees. In today’s Policy Note, the New York Times reports on how the Affordable Care Act is working in Kentucky, where state leaders have cooperated with the law to help their citizens obtain health coverage.

In The News

Oklahoma DOC out of public prison space, seeks $31.5 million for rising inmate population

After receiving a standstill budget for the current fiscal year, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections says it needs more money in the future to house a growing number of offenders. The agency is seeking $31.5 million in additional funds for the next fiscal year. The money will be used to pay for a growing number of offenders placed in private prisons, among other things, said Greg Sawyer, Department of Corrections chief of business operations. The Corrections Department is currently out of public prison space, Sawyer said.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma’s gross revenue collections rise 7 percent

Oklahoma’s gross revenue collections for October were up 7 percent over last year, according to a report released Monday by state Treasurer Ken Miller’s office. About half of the state’s gross collections go into the state’s general revenue fund, which is used to operate the state. Last month, Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said collections for September were down 6.6 percent, telling agencies there would not be a big pot of growth money this year. Several factors have contributed to a reduction in state revenue, including funds that have been designated to repair the Capitol and the payback period for incentives given in the area of gross production, Miller said.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

U.S. Supreme Court ends Oklahoma attempt to restrict abortion medications

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the state’s appeal of a decision that found unconstitutional a law restricting the use of abortion-inducing drugs. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt had appealed the decision of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which had affirmed a district court’s decision. “The Supreme Court has let stand a strong decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court that recognized this law for what it is: an outright ban on a safe method of ending a pregnancy in its earliest stages, and an unconstitutional attack on women’s health rights,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Gov. Fallin: Make A-F system work

The A-F public school grading system being implemented in Oklahoma is designed to give parents, administrators and teachers an easily understood method of evaluating school success. The letter grades are based on student performance. Fifty percent of the grade is based on the average score students receive on standardized tests in subjects like English and math. The other half of the grade is based on student improvement on these tests — meaning a school with relatively low scores still can receive a decent grade if student performance is moving in the right direction.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

About the Governor’s letter

Governor Fallin has called upon all parties to end the drama, assuring us that “the time for theatrics is over” when it comes to this week’s roll-out of Oklahoma’s A-F Report Cards. In a letter published yesterday by the Tulsa World, she completely misses the point of much of the dialogue that has taken place around the education accountability system. Having a system that lacks meaning – not the various responses to it – is what threatens to undermine efforts at increasing accountability in Oklahoma. Ignoring research by people who do that for a living just makes it worse.

Read more from okeducationtruths.

Watch This: The House We Live In

In 2010 in Oklahoma, just under half of the state’s residents of color owned their own homes, compared to three-quarters of the state’s white residents. Home ownership is a key element of economic mobility and has has been key to growing the middle class in America, as we’ve discussed in our report “Closing the Opportunity Gap” and in a previously-posted video on the impact of the racial wealth gap. This clip from PBS’s “The House We Live In,” part of a multipart PBS series called “Race: The Power of an Illusion,” demonstrates how US post-war public policy widened today’s racial wealth gap by initially restricting access to home ownership almost exclusively to white Americans and later divesting people of color from the wealth in their homes by using a race based rating system for property values.

Watch the video at the OK Policy Blog.

Quote of the Day

In many homes, food stamps are the only means and access to quality, nutritious foods. A proposed nearly $40 billion cut in SNAP, which funds our state’s food stamp program, will have a dire effect on hundreds of Native families in northeast Oklahoma, harming the health and well-being of many Cherokee citizens. … Cutting the $40 billion will only drive up health care costs and create real problems for the generation that follows us.

-Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker, on food stamp cuts being pushed by Congressional Republicans (Source:

Number of the Day

29 percent

Portion of bookings in Tulsa County Jail in July 2012 that involved a failure to pay court fines and fees.

Source: Tulsa World analysis

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

For uninsured, clearing a way to enrollment

Kelli Cauley’s fingers raced over her keyboard as she asked the anxious woman at her side a series of questions. What was her income? How many people lived in her household? Did she smoke? (“That’s the only health question it asks,” Ms. Cauley said of the application they were completing.) The woman, a thin 61-year-old who refused to give her name, citing privacy concerns, had come to the public library here to sign up for health insurance through Kentucky’s new online exchange. She had a painful lump on the back of her hand and other health problems that worried her deeply, she said, but had been unable to afford insurance as a home health care worker who earns $9 an hour. Within a minute, the system checked her information and flashed its conclusion on Ms. Cauley’s laptop: eligible for Medicaid. The woman began to weep with relief.

Read more from the New York Times.

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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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