In The Know: State’s payday loan usage rate highest in nation

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’s payday loan usage rate highest in nation: Elise Robillard was desperate for a quick cash infusion the first time she walked into a payday lending store. A long-term substitute teacher and mother of two young children, Robillard’s tires were bald, and she couldn’t afford to replace them. So she turned to small, short-term payday advances thinking they would keep her afloat. The loans have few financial qualifications, but annual interest rates as high as 391 percent [Enid News]. If predatory lending is restricted, Oklahomans will find better alternatives [OK Policy].

Confronting a Newly Created $214 Million Budget Deficit at the State Capitol: Last week’s Oklahoma Supreme Court decision invalidating the State Legislature’s cigarette cessation fee means that there’s now a $214 million budget deficit in this year’s budget. This gives Oklahoma lawmakers two options: go back into special session to fix the state budget, or else three state agencies — the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services — will have to rewrite their budgets to account for a roughly $70 million cut to each agency. So, what will state lawmakers do? [Public Radio Tulsa] With the doomsday clock ticking, how might the state’s budget emergency be solved? [OK Policy]

Officials to Reconsider School Names in Oklahoma City, Tulsa: School officials in Oklahoma City and Tulsa will reconsider whether their schools should bear the names of confederate generals after a white nationalist rally decrying the planned removal of a Robert E. Lee statue turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia. An online petition in Tulsa urges the district to rethink a 99-year-old decision to name a school after Lee. Four elementary schools in Oklahoma City also bear the names of Lee and other Confederate generals. The Tulsa school district released a statement Monday saying officials plan to review the names of all schools in the district to assure they reflect community values [Associated Press].

Oklahoma revenues meet expectations for July: Revenues for the first month of this year’s budget met expectations, but the looming cuts to health agencies because of a court ruling are likely to shake up the revenue picture, a state official said Tuesday. Deposits into the general revenue fund, which is used for appropriations, were equal to the July monthly estimate, said Preston Doerflinger, director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services [NewsOK].

Save OKC Schools launches 90-day petition drive for local income tax: Phylesia Dailey thinks her daughter is getting a good education at Cleveland Elementary in Oklahoma City Public Schools. She also believes all children in the district should have the kind of good education her daughter is receiving. She was one of several people who attended the information forum at the Tower Hotel Tuesday night to learn about a new idea for using an Oklahoma City income tax to fund teacher stipends [Oklahoma City Free Press].

Reducing an occupational burden: In the 1950s, one in 50 occupations required a license. Today it’s one in three. Those 60 years didn’t give us a glut of jobs that put the public at risk; they gave us a government that had to find ways to stay afloat without calling something a tax. With the help of a task force headed by Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston, Oklahoma might be coming to its senses. Two smart initiatives have already come from the task force’s work that will be included in the final report: a centralized licensure database and a questionnaire that will help determine whether a particular occupation really needs to be licensed at all [Editorial Board / Journal Record].

OK Congressman visits Ada for town hall meeting OK Congressman visits Ada for town hall meeting: “Come 2018, I hope that the lifelong conservatives like myself can still stand behind you,” an attendee said. Congressman Tom Cole is making four stops this month for a series of town hall meetings. And at his first stop in Ada, attendees didn’t hold back. “I don’t know if you’re hearing from your constituents that he and what he has put together is a cancer to the republican party,” an attendee said [KXII].

Oklahoma mother scared son could die at Oklahoma County Jail: Areo Mirzababa wheeled himself into an Oklahoma County courtroom Monday morning. Mirzababa is an inmate at the Oklahoma County Jail, but he’s not a typical prisoner. He is in a wheelchair because he’s paralyzed from the chest down after he was shot in 2015. He was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail on August 4 on a drug trafficking charge [KFOR].

Oklahoma attorney general to seek rehearing in murder case involving tribal jurisdiction: The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office will ask an appellate court to reconsider its ruling last week in a death penalty case, saying the decision has the potential, if it stands, to heavily impact the state’s criminal, civil and regulatory authority. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Tuesday granted a request by the state of Oklahoma for additional time to file its petition for rehearing in a lawsuit involving convicted murderer Patrick Dwayne Murphy [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma City sales tax revenue rises for fourth consecutive month: Sales tax exceeded Oklahoma City’s budget target for August, up 5.75 percent from this time last year. Following tepid July results, growth in August pushed city government’s single-largest revenue source onto positive ground two months into the fiscal year. Sales tax collections have posted year-over-year monthly increases for four consecutive months, reversing a string of declines that persisted for a year and a half [NewsOK].

Airbnb to Start Remitting Hotel Tax in Oklahoma City: The home-sharing company Airbnb says it’s reached a deal to begin collecting and remitting hotel taxes to Oklahoma City. The company says it will start collecting the 5.5 percent city hotel tax on all eligible bookings starting Sept. 1. Airbnb says the company previously reached a separate agreement with Oklahoma to begin collecting the state’s 4.5 percent state sales tax, which began July 1. Airbnb says it has similar agreements with 310 government entities globally [Associated Press].

Oklahoma couple suing oil and gas company over damages, injuries caused by earthquakes: A hearing held Tuesday afternoon means a step forward in an induced-seismicity lawsuit from Lincoln County. The case was brought by Gary and Sandra Ladra of Prague after three earthquakes in November rattled Prague and, as a result, Sandra was hurt. They are being represented attorney Scott Poynter, who alleges the earthquakes were caused by wastewater disposal wells [KFOR].

Voices for medical marijuana: I recently met with several Oklahomans battling chronic illness and pain who hope the state will vote to legalize medical marijuana in 2018. State Question 788 would make it legal for a doctor to prescribe marijuana to treat any condition. Oklahomans will vote on the measure in November 2018. The medical marijuana advocates I met with ranged from a U.S. Marine Corps veteran to a stay-at home mom [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“This was about survival. And once I got stuck in it, I couldn’t get out of it. The only way I could get out of that cycle, the cycle of predatory lending, was to finally declare bankruptcy. We should not set up scenarios where somebody can have a financial train wreck in their life.” 

– Elise Robillard, a long-term substitute teacher in Norman, on the effects of turning to payday loans. Robillard says she took out between 90 and 110 short-term loans, many to pay off previous debt. About 1 in 8 Oklahoma adults has taken out a payday loan, the highest usage rate in the nation (Source)

Number of the Day


Percentage of mail ballots unreturned in Oklahoma in 2014, 9th highest in the US

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The doctor will analyze you now: It’s a truism that the mind and the body are connected, but the U.S. health care system has long treated them as separate—with separate doctors, separate hospitals, separate payment systems. That’s a major reason people with acute mental illnesses don’t get help. Ditto for chronic conditions like depression and anxiety. People may not seek help because of stigma. They may not find it because there are too few providers and they are too hard to locate [Politico].

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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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