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’s edition of The Weekly Wonk was published with contributions from Communications Intern Lilly Strom.
This Week from OK Policy
- What the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Means for Oklahoma (webinar): The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), signed into law in March, builds on previous pandemic relief efforts by providing much needed help for tens of millions of people still facing difficulties paying their bills, while also providing important aid to states, localities, territories, and tribes that they can use to fill revenue holes, address COVID-related needs, and address the learning needs of students. In this webinar, OK Policy policy staff take a look at ARPA and dig into what this sweeping legislation can mean for Oklahoma, especially in terms of fiscal aid, child well-being, criminal justice, health care, and advocacy opportunities. [OK Policy / YouTube]
- State budget actions tell us how well our democracy is working: Forty-seven states must pass state budgets this year. The majority of them have introduced budget bills and are debating them in public, often inviting participation from citizens. Many will devote months to an open, public discussion of the state’s service and fiscal priorities. Oklahoma, by contrast, is one of few states where there is currently no introduced budget and limited discussion of budget priorities. [Paul Shinn / OK Policy]
- Policy Matters: Oklahomans deserve budget transparency: It’s been nearly three months since this legislative session kicked off, and lawmakers have not shared a proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1. Only a very few lawmakers are involved in developing the budget, leaving the public – and the majority of their fellow lawmakers – in the dark. But it doesn’t have to be this way. [Ahniwake Rose / OK Policy]
- Privatized Managed Care: The Facts: As the Governor and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) attempt to unilaterally outsource the care of 773,794 Oklahomans who are insured by Medicaid, legislators and members of the public need the facts, not political talking points. Privatized managed care is not supported by peer-reviewed evidence: it hasn’t been definitively linked to budget savings or improved health outcomes. In fact, it will likely cost the state money and harm many Oklahoma communities. Lawmakers have the option and the responsibility to protect Oklahomans’ health care and stop this reckless change. [Emma Morris / OK Policy]
- 2020 Census Evaluation Report: Understanding How Oklahomans Are Doing: While the census count officially ended on October 15, 2020, many uncertainties related to the 2020 census remain, including ongoing data validity checks and court cases. Despite unprecedented challenges, Oklahoma’s final census self-response rate decreased only marginally compared to 2010. The 2020 census marked an unprecedented effort by Oklahomans engaged in wide-scale census efforts across the state. Documentation of Oklahoma’s 2020 census efforts can serve as a starting
point for future census efforts. [OK Policy]
- New law provides academic, behavioral supports for students in need (Capitol Update): Third-year Representative Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle, has been on a mission to provide for the implementation of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) to address the core academic and non-academic needs of all students in Oklahoma public schools. During the 2020 interim Conley, a former teacher and administrator, hosted a study examining the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress on children’s behavior in the classroom and efforts schools can make to help avoid suspension. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]
Weekly What’s That
Child Care/Child Tax Credit
The Child Tax/Child Care Tax Credit is an Oklahoma tax credit that can be claimed by parents of dependent children. Taxpayers can claim the greater of five percent of the federal Child Tax Credit or twenty percent of the federal Child Care Tax Credit. In both cases, federal adjusted gross income cannot exceed $100,000 for married couples filing jointly.
The federal child tax credit provides a credit of up to $2,000 per child under age 17. If the credit exceeds taxes owed, families may receive up to $1,400 per child as a refund. Other dependents—including children ages 17–18 and full-time college students ages 19–24—can receive a nonrefundable credit of up to $500 each.
For Fiscal Year 2020, the credit was claimed on 367,145 Oklahoma tax returns for a total amount of $42.9 million, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s Tax Expenditure Report.
Quote of the Week
“(Privatized managed care) means surgeries, medical equipment, mental health, counseling and ambulance trips can be denied by the insurance companies simply so they can stay within their budget while making a profit.”
-Jay Johnson, president of Duncan Regional Hospital and board chair of the Oklahoma Hospital Association. [CNHI via Norman Transcript]
Editorial of the Week
Legislative attempt to rewrite history should be vetoed
House Bill 1775 would bring public education in Oklahoma dangerously close to becoming the Ministry of Truth and a dystopian existence of propaganda, surveillance and authoritarian politics.
What began as a measure that would have required schools to develop emergency action plans primarily for the benefit of student athletes landed on the governor’s desk as a controversial attempt to whitewash history. It would ban the teaching of “critical race theory” and mandatory gender and diversity training on college and university campuses.
Accomplished as part of a popular campaign to cancel the so-called cancel culture, the measure likely would be declared unconstitutional as an infringement of First Amendment rights. And serving up a sterilized version of history for the next generation of students could doom them to repeat failures of the past.
There are legitimate concerns about misplaced anger and blame attributed to those whose ancestors might have committed some wrong. That is why the history being taught must be based on truth, not some fabricated version.
If facts are withheld, the fact they were concealed will be revealed and present-day blame could be assigned for covering up the truth. So why would the state conspire to carry on the deception?
In order to become a “more perfect union,” a nation’s citizens must know their history. Students must be trusted to reason and grapple with the sometimes difficult truths that shaped this world.
Possessing that knowledge and understanding the underlying reasons will help them shape a more just future for themselves and those who follow. Avoiding those facts now only prolongs existing divisions.
Supporters of HB 1775 accused its detractors of “stirring up angst.” We fear those trying to rewrite history may be the troublemakers. Gov. Kevin Stitt should veto this bill.
Numbers of the Day
- $589,772,813 – Amount of child care relief funding coming to Oklahoma through the American Rescue Plan Act through expanded child care assistance and child care stabilization funds [Source: CLASP]
- 2.7 million – Number of children in the United States with an incarcerated parent [Source: Next 100]
- 18% – Percentage of American Indian children in Oklahoma without health insurance, compared to 6% for white children. [Source: KIDS COUNT Data Center]
- 36% – Percentage of Oklahoma children younger than age 6 with all parents working having non-traditional hours [Source: Urban Institute]
- 54.4% – Percentage of Oklahoma adults living in households with children aged 0-17 who reported it has been somewhat or very difficult for their household to pay for usual household expenses in the past week. [Source: KIDS COUNT Data Center]
What We’re Reading
- Studies Show Dramatic Racial Disparities in Front End of Juvenile Justice System [Annie E. Casey Foundation]
- Parents with Nontraditional Work Schedules in Oklahoma Implications for Child Care [Urban Institute]
- Childhood in the Time of COVID [Save The Children]
- A Racially Just Recovery Demands Paid Family and Medical Leave [National Partnership for Women and Children]
- The Pandemic Has Wreaked Havoc on Preschoolers. This Plan Could Help Reverse the Effects [National Education Policy Center]