In The Know: State Senate Approves $17.7M Funding To Prevent OHCA 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.

Today In The News

State Senate Approves $17.7M Funding To Prevent OHCA Rate Cuts: The Senate approved $17.7 million in funding for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) to prevent provider rate cuts, according to a release issued Wednesday. According to the release, issued by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz’ office, the Senate also approved an additional $26.5 million in funding for the Department of Human Services (DHS) to make up a portion of the agency’s funding [News 9]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special session [OK Policy].

Fallin to have nearly $6.9 billion to build proposed state budget for next fiscal year: Gov. Mary Fallin will have $6.9 billion to build her proposed budget for fiscal year 2019, according to figures released Wednesday. That compares to about $6 billion at this time last year, according to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. But state officials don’t know how large the budget hole will be for the next fiscal year [Tulsa World].

Backers of teacher pay raises want to give Oklahoma’s voters another chance to consider the issue: Backers of an effort to give Oklahoma’s teachers a meaningful pay raise took their first step this week to get another state question asking voters to approve it on a ballot in November 2018. Mickey Thompson, a former president of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and a longtime oil industry spokesperson, on Wednesday delivered to Oklahoma’s Secretary of State a petition seeking the state question [NewsOK].

Oklahoma, federal budget issues leave health agencies guessing: People with disabilities in Oklahoma, who breathed a sigh of relief that their services would be funded just one month ago, may start worrying again. Budget uncertainty on both the state and federal levels has left state agencies and health care providers wondering whether their programs can continue — and people who rely on those programs potentially with little time to find alternatives [NewsOK].

Fallin: Legislators risk losing elections ‘if we don’t fix problems’: Oklahoma’s statewide-elected officials sat at Gov. Mary Fallin’s conference table this morning, listening as the state’s deputy budget director ran through a list of statistics and revenue estimates. Christmas carols wafted into the room from elsewhere in the Capitol. Above the politicians, on a slightly blurry projection screen, phrases summarized Oklahoma’s fiscal situation [NonDoc].

Prosperity Policy: Hunger for the holidays: Hunger in Oklahoma is all around us. In a collection of essays recently published by OK Policy as Neglected Oklahoma, Oklahoma City resident and activist Camille Landry recounts a few of the places where she encounters hunger over the course of a week. Hunger is in the break room at work, where Tonya, who works for her company’s janitorial service, is feeling ill [David Blatt / Journal Record].

Solution to medical education funding snafu likely, says Inhofe: Federal administrators are committed to finding a way to restore roughly $65 million a year that Oklahoma has used the past two decades to help fund graduate medical education, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Wednesday. “I don’t think they have a choice,” Inhofe said by telephone. “They have to find a way.” Inhofe noted Oklahoma has received the funding since 1996 through a Medicaid waiver that provides federal matching dollars for physician training [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma opioid commission lays out legislative priorities: The Oklahoma attorney general’s commission fighting the opioid crisis proposed at a meeting Tuesday a mix of changes to law enforcement, new rules for prescribers and increased data collection. The commission, which has met multiple times this year under the direction of Attorney General Mike Hunter, laid out five initial recommendations for lawmakers when they return for regular session in February [NewsOK].

Capitol ‘food fight’ could leave egg on some faces: The mashed potatoes are flying at the state Capitol. Food fight. That’s how members of a House committee delving into the financial catastrophe at the Department of Health described the increasingly public squabble between State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones and Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger. And if anyone knows about food fights, it’s the Oklahoma House of Representatives [Randy Krehbiel / Tulsa World].

Tourism Department investigation could be next: The association that represents Oklahoma state employees has asked investigative entities to examine the Tourism and Recreation Department. The Oklahoma Public Employees Association said it wants to find out if Tourism has violated laws regulating employment practices, open records and meetings and the handling of taxpayer funds [NewsOK].

Oklahoma street honoring KKK member to be renamed: An Oklahoma college town approved a petition to rename a street honoring a Ku Klux Klan leader who was also a prominent professor. The Norman City Council gave its unanimous approval Tuesday to rename DeBarr Avenue as Deans Row Avenue. Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary told The Norman Transcript that the city plans to make the change within 30 days [AP].

Quote of the Day

“We have balanced our budget by using one-time funds, revolving funds, raiding various cash funds, Rainy Day funds, to the point that we can’t do that any longer. It’s becoming a crisis in the state of Oklahoma.”

– Gov. Mary Fallin (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of mental health providers per 100,000 population in Oklahoma, 5th highest in the US in 2017

Source: America’s Health Rankings

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

These are the people who would lose under Medicaid work requirements: We just got some of our strongest evidence yet that there is no pandemic of Medicaid enrollees who are avoiding work to stay on the program’s rolls, even as the Trump administration prepares to institute work requirements in some states that have requested them. The research, conducted by the University of Michigan and published on Monday in JAMA, looks at the work status of people who enrolled in Medicaid after Michigan expanded the program under Obamacare [Vox].

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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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