What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.
This Week from OK Policy
Policy Matters: Passing SQ 802 – next step to a stronger Oklahoma: As Oklahoma and the nation wrestle with the COVID-19 resurgence, it is time to set aside politics and focus on health care issues. OK Policy Institute and other state health advocates look forward to working with Gov. Stitt, lawmakers, and policymakers to quickly implement SQ 802 to address these needs. The clock has started on the 90-day window for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to submit the state’s plan to federal regulators. Oklahoma officials were ready to fully expand Medicaid on July 1, and lawmakers even identified a funding mechanism that didn’t entail raising taxes. As a result, Oklahoma should be well-positioned to meet this first deadline and move forward quickly. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record]
Statement Re: Passage of State Question 802: Oklahomans made the right choice Tuesday by passing SQ 802, which will provide life-changing health care coverage for more than 200,000 Oklahomans and create a significant economic stimulus when implemented. OK Policy is grateful for Oklahoma voters who did the right thing both for Oklahoma and our neighbors who otherwise would go without health insurance. [Read full statement]
Health Policy Minute Episode 38: Oklahoma expands Medicaid (video): Carly Putnam, Policy Director and Health Care Policy Analyst for OK Policy, joined Community Catalyst to discuss reaction to passage of SQ 802. [Community Catalyst]
Medicaid expansion can address Oklahoma’s mental health and criminal justice needs: To have any hope of aspiring to “top 10” status in fighting mental illness and addiction, Oklahoma needs a large infusion of dollars into the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. As luck would have it, that may now be possible. More than 313,000 Oklahomans signed the petition for State Question 802, which would expand Medicaid coverage that would pump over $1 billion annually into Oklahoma health care. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]
Weekly What’s That
Earned Income Tax Credit
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit that subsidizes work for low-income families. The EITC is the nation’s largest cash or near cash assistance program after the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). In 2017, the EITC lifted about 5.7 million people out of poverty, including about 3 million children, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
The amount of EITC depends on a family’s earnings and number of children; the maximum credit in 2019 was roughly $5,800 for a family with two children. The EITC is refundable, which means the full amount can be claimed even if it exceeds a taxpayer’s tax liability. Refundability is critical to the success of the EITC because it allows the credit to still reward work and support families even if workers pay little income tax.
Oklahoma is one of 26 states with a state EITC, set at 5 percent of the federal credit. In 2016, the Oklahoma Legislature made the credit non-refundable. The state EITC was claimed on 300,274 returns for $16.0 million in FY 2018, according to Oklahoma Tax Commission records.
Quote of the Week
“Too many people are still taking an ‘it’s not my problem’ approach to the virus.”
-Dr. George Monks, president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association [Tulsa World]
Editorial of the Week
Oklahomans show they can vote by mail, and the state should accommodate them
Oklahoma has a good election system, but we can make it better: Safer and open to broader participation.
When the Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes, we think a top priority should be a thorough study of how we can improve our elections and at the top of that list should be expanding the opportunity for Oklahomans to vote securely by mail.
Tuesday’s election demonstrated that vote-by-mail can be done safely, securely and efficiently in the state.
Numbers of the Day
- 14% – Percentage of uninsured Oklahomans, which ranks the state second nationally for number of uninsured residents.
- Zero – Number of states that have rolled back their expanded coverage through Medicaid.
- .05 – Oklahoma’s score out of 5 on the COVID-19 housing policy scorecard used to rate each state’s pandemic responses to evictions and prevention of homelessness, as of July 2, 2020.
- 1,149 – The number of evictions granted in Oklahoma as of July 1, 2020 since a state of emergency was declared on March 15.
What We’re Reading
- Medicaid expansion: Ten years of unparalleled return on investment, improved outcomes [OK Policy]
- The Impact of Medicaid Expansion on States’ Budgets [Commonwealth Fund]
- Millions of Americans Skip Payments as Tidal Wave of Defaults and Evictions Looms [NPR]
- The Coming Wave of Coronavirus Evictions Will Wipe Out Black Renters [Bloomberg City Lab]