In 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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre.
A new study shows Oklahoma ranked in last place in the country for state spending on prison health care from 2007 to 2011. Over those years, per inmate spending on health care dropped 17 percent even as the number of inmates age 55 or older grew to nearly 8 percent of the total prison population. The Oklahoman editorial board discussed a trend of college becoming less affordable in Oklahoma as shrinking state funding is replaced by tuition and fee increases.
On the OK Policy Blog, we shared information about the Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition and an upcoming conference on ways to promote self-sufficiency and prosperity in Oklahoma’s Native communities. United Nations officials are pushing for the Central Americans fleeing to the United States, many of whom are being detained at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, to be protected as refugees displaced by armed conflict. Tulsa’s mail-processing plant is again being targeted for closure as part of a U.S. Postal Service consolidation plan to save money. It could close as soon as next year, and local mail would be delayed one to three days as it is hauled to Oklahoma City for sorting and then returned to Tulsa.
The Tulsa Area United Way announced $370,000 in funding for projects to end chronic homelessness, prevent teen pregnancy and elevate student achievement. The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department says budget cuts are forcing it to close Walnut Creek State Park in Osage County. The names of Democratic candidates will appear first on the ballot in November’s general election in Oklahoma. Ballot order is determined by a drawing held at the state Capitol.
The full Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of a new law that repealed Oklahoma’s adoption of the Common Core curriculum standards and requires the state Board of Education to draft new standards that the Legislature would have the power to change as it sees fit. The lawsuit was filed by a group of parents, teachers and members of the State Board of Education. The suit originally was scheduled to be heard by a Supreme Court referee but that was changed to oral arguments before the full court. The hearing will be held July 15 in the Supreme Court’s State Capitol courtroom.
Lawmakers move money out of uncompensated trauma care fund
State health officials expressed concern Tuesday over money that was pulled from an account that pays for uncompensated trauma care delivered in Oklahoma. While planning out the state’s budget, policymakers moved $5 million from the state trauma care assistance revolving fund to help pay for appropriations for other agencies. The fund, administered by the Oklahoma Health Department, helps pay physicians, hospitals and emergency medical service providers who deliver millions of dollars in uncompensated health care to Oklahomans who suffer serious and often life-threatening injuries, said Julie Cox-Kain, senior deputy commissioner of the Health Department.
Study shows Oklahoma spends least in nation on prisoner health care
Oklahoma ranked in last place in the country for state spending on prison health care over a recent five-year period, a study released Tuesday found. The study, done by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, analyzed health care costs in state prisons from 2007 to 2011. It showed that not only did Oklahoma spend less than any other state on health care per inmate in 2011 — $2,558 — but that number is a 17 percent reduction from 2007. According to the study, from 2007 to 2011, the number of inmates age 55 or older in Oklahoma increased from 6.6 percent to nearly 8 percent of the total prison population.
Definition of a ‘public’ college continues to change in Oklahoma, nationally
What does it mean to be a “public” college? Once upon a time, it meant that states provided significant financial support, which kept a cap of sorts on tuition and fees paid by students and their families. That’s been less and less the case over the past several years. Recessionary measures included either higher education funding cuts or flat budgets. The latter served as an effective cut since fixed costs aren’t getting any cheaper. Oklahoma is far from the most egregious offender in either state support for higher ed or in tuition and fee increases. Still, Oklahoma hasn’t been immune from the nationwide trend, which can be painful for students and their families.
Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition: Building self-sufficiency and prosperity
Oklahoma is home to thirty-nine federally recognized tribes and their citizens. Through Oklahoma Native Assets Coalition, tribes and Native non-profits are administering innovative Native asset building programs such as financial education, credit builder workshops, Voluntary Income Tax Assistance sites, and entrepreneurship training programs. Our partners also offer homeownership assistance and foreclosure prevention, emergency savings programs, matched savings accounts, and children’s savings account programs.
UN: Central Americans fleeing to US should be classified as refugees
United Nations officials are pushing for many of the Central Americans fleeing to the United States to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict, a designation meant to increase pressure on the United States and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum. Officials with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) say they hope to see a regional agreement on that status Thursday when migration and interior department representatives from the U.S., Mexico and Central America meet in Nicaragua.
Tulsa mail-sorting center targeted for closure as early as next year
Tulsa’s mail-processing plant is again being targeted for closure as part of a U.S. Postal Service consolidation plan to save money. The east Tulsa mail-sorting facility is one of 82 nationwide slated to close in the second phase of the agency’s reorganization plan, which it began implementing in 2012. Tulsa’s plant has been targeted for closure several times since 2011. For Tulsa, the closure would mean that local mail would be hauled to Oklahoma City for sorting and then returned to Tulsa for distribution. Mail delivery in northeastern Oklahoma could be delayed one to three days.
Tulsa Area United Way gives grants to fund agency collaborations
The Tulsa Area United Way recently announced three grants in its continuing pursuit of funding collaborations among agencies working together to solve big-picture issues. The agency awarded $370,000 to projects to end chronic homelessness, prevent teen pregnancy and elevate student achievement. “Our city’s top funders and social service experts are coming together to tackle these long-standing community challenges,” said Mark Graham, president and CEO of the Tulsa Area United Way. “We really want to take the work we do with our partner agencies and look at things in the community that are so large that one agency can’t tackle them.”
Walnut Creek State Park to close at the end of summer
The Oklahoma tourism and recreation department says budget cuts are forcing it to close Walnut Creek State Park in Osage County. The tourism and recreation department leases the park from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The current lease is not set to expire until December 31, 2015, however the state will end its lease at the end of summer, thereby forcing the park to close, unless the Army Corps of Engineers finds another entity to takeover the lease.”After September 1st, Walnut Creek State Park will no longer be operated by the tourism department,” said Leslie Blair, spokesperson for the Oklahoma Department of Tourism & Recreation.
The names of Democratic candidates will appear first on the ballot in November’s general election in Oklahoma. Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax (ZEER’-iks) announced the ballot order Tuesday following the results of a drawing held at the state Capitol. State law requires the selection process be held every two years to determine the order of the party candidates on the ballot. Representatives from both parties observed the drawing at the Oklahoma Election Board’s office. Drawings also were held to determine the order of independent candidates for state and federal offices.
“These are lifesaving services that hospitals and EMS providers provide to people without respect to their ability to pay or their insurance status. It’s a critical system for us to support.”
-Julie Cox-Kain, a deputy commissioner with the Oklahoma Health Department, speaking about the Legislature’s move to take $5 million from the state trauma care assistance revolving fund to balance this year’s budget (Source: http://bit.ly/1qj6SUP)
Number of the Day
Percentage of Oklahomans living in areas with concentrated poverty in 2010.
Obama has a $3.7 billion migrant-crisis plan. Here’s how it’d be spent.
The White House asked Congress Tuesday for $3.7 billion in extra funding to address the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children and families entering the US. Some of the money would be used to increase border security. But most of it would go toward housing and processing for children and families who are already here, to ensure they can move quickly through deportation proceedings. The administration’s request includes money for every stage of the process: from apprehension and screening by Border Patrol, to temporary housing under HHS or detention by ICE, to immigration court proceedings, to “reintegration” after deportation.