In The Know: Oklahoma plan to fix child welfare system is not meeting targets

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 independent monitors charged with overseeing the state’s child welfare reform plan said inaccurate data and staff turnover is “forging a new crisis.” Oklahoma City is considering giving $2 million in job creation incentives to the heavy equipment manufacturer that recently downsized its operations. The OK Policy Blog previously discussed how the statewide Quality Jobs Program allows payments to companies that aren’t creating new jobs.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed a new documentary on how extreme inequality is damaging the American economy and distorting democracy. Governor Fallin appointed former House Speaker Chris Benge as Secretary of State. Former Gov. Brad Henry testified for the prosecution at the bribery trial for former Rep. Randy Terrill.

The Okie Funk blog argues for why Oklahoma Democrats should allow Independents to vote in the party’s primary elections. The state Supreme Court let stand a ruling that declared police dash cam videos to be public records. Yesterday, as a state Senate interim study invited a speaker to tell them “Why Old Medicaid Doesn’t Work,” OK Policy showed that the program provides affordable, efficient care to hundreds of thousands of low-income residents.

The Number of the Day is the share of private prison beds that Oklahoma guarantees will be filled. In today’s Policy Note, a Demos report examines how stagnant social mobility, increasing inequality, and the rise of low wage jobs without benefits are affecting both poor and middle class Americans.

In The News

Oklahoma DHS not meeting targets, monitors charge

Independent monitors charged with overseeing the state’s child welfare reformation plan issued a report Thursday that is critical of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, citing inaccuracies in data and staff turnover that is “fast forging a new crisis on the front lines of the organization.” The report claims that DHS made last-minute efforts in several areas to meet deadlines that did not conform with the goals of the Pinnacle Plan, which DHS established last year for reforms in accordance with the settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of children in DHS custody.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma City considers giving $2 million in incentives to manufacturing company

Oklahoma City is considering giving $2 million in job creation incentives to the heavy equipment manufacturer Terex Corp. The company has a sizable manufacturing facility on the south side of Interstate 40 near Morgan Road. While it once had a much larger presence in Oklahoma City, Terex now has about 150 workers at its Oklahoma City plant after selling its road building division earlier this year, leaving significant empty manufacturing floor space at their facility.

Read more from NewsOK.

Previously: Oklahoma makes “Quality Jobs” payment to companies that aren’t creating new jobs from the OK Policy Blog

Prosperity Policy: Inequality, the Great Recession and déjà vu

Last week, the Oklahoma Policy Institute co-hosted a screening of Inequality for All, a new documentary starring former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. The film manages to be entertaining while making a compelling case that inequality in America has increased to dangerous levels, to the point that it is damaging economic growth and distorting our democracy. The film depicts the troubling state of today’s economy using animated charts and interviews with individuals ranging from a successful venture capitalist and a U.S. senator to working families who are barely covering their basic expenses, let alone saving for the future.

Read more from the Journal Record.

Gov. Fallin appoints Chris Benge as Secretary of State

Former Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge has been appointed secretary of state. Gov. Mary Fallin announced the appointment Wednesday. Benge will start the position on Nov. 8. The Senate must still confirm the appointment. As secretary of state, Benge will be a senior adviser to Fallin on policy, economic and legislative issues. Benge, a Republican from Tulsa, was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1998 and served until 2010. He has been senior vice president of government affairs at the Tulsa Regional Chamber since August 2011.

Read more from News9.

Former Oklahoma governor testifies for prosecution at political bribery trial

Former Gov. Brad Henry told jurors Wednesday that he vetoed a reform bill creating a new job at the medical examiner’s office in part because of rumors a state senator was getting the position. Henry, a Democrat, was the seventh prosecution witness to testify at the political bribery trial for former state Rep. Randy Terrill. Terrill, a Republican, is accused of offering then-Sen. Debbe Leftwich, a Democrat, an $80,000 a year job at the medical examiner’s office to not run for re-election in 2010.

Read more from NewsOK.

Should state Democrats allow independents to vote in primary elections?

Recently on Okie Funk, I’ve lamented the dearth of serious Democratic candidates so far for major statewide offices in the 2014 election. It’s shaping up to be another Republican sweep in 2014, except perhaps for the state Schools Superintendent race, which has drawn some solid Democratic interest. So here’s an idea getting bandied about among some progressives: What if state Democrats opened up their primary and runoff elections to voters registered as Independents over the next two years?

Read more from Okie Funk.

Oklahoma Supreme Court rules police dash cam recordings are public records

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal to a state appellate court ruling that states dash-cam video made by the Claremore Police Department in 2011 does constitute a public record under the Oklahoma Open Records Act. The city of Claremore had filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the Court of Civil Appeals ruling. That request was denied Monday, with all the Supreme Court justices concurring, court records show. “It’s basically an affirmation from the Oklahoma Supreme Court that the Civil Appeals decision was right, that the public does have a right to have access of the videotapes and dashcams,” said attorney Josh Lee.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Medicaid proves its worth in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Senate will hold an interim study meeting this afternoon to consider possible changes to the Medicaid program. In March, OK Policy released an issue brief titled “Medicaid Proves Its Worth in Oklahoma” that made the case for how Medicaid is a cost-efficient program delivering high-quality care to hundreds of thousands of Oklahoma’s lowest-income residents.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog.

Quote of the Day

You know, it’s just pretty basic. Something had to give. We don’t have the funding to do a salary increase. … We haven’t abandoned those objectives. We’re going to ask for full funding of our plan.

-Oklahoma Department of Human Services Director Ed Lake, on the Pinnacle Plan to reform the state’s child welfare system failing to meet targets and seeing high turnover among staff after it was not fully funded by the Legislature (Source:

Number of the Day

98 percent

The share of private prison beds that Oklahoma guarantees will be filled – the second highest ‘lock up quota’ among the few states that permit such provisions.

Source: In The Public Interest

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Running in Place: Where the Middle Class and the Poor Meet

“Being poor is running in place.” Author John Scalzi wrote this about his own experience of growing up in poverty. Today it is not only poor families but many middle class families who are furiously running in place. Millions are working hard to move forward, or just to make ends meet, and getting nowhere. Anyone who wishes to address poverty and strengthen economic opportunity needs to connect the dots between the needs of the working poor and those of the middle class. Stagnant social mobility, increasing inequality, and the rise of low wage jobs without benefits are affecting both groups.

Read more from Demos.

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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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