• No single solution to hospitals' financial, service challenges

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, May 15, 2015

    PASSAGE of the Affordable Care Act, combined with other longstanding trends, has left many hospitals on precarious financial footing. Some will almost certainly close, including in Oklahoma. The good news is this doesn’t necessarily mean worse overall health outcomes for people in surrounding communities, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health. The Harvard study, which examined 195 hospital closures between 2003 and 2011, reviewed health experiences in the year before and the year after a hospital closed its doors. Researchers found death rates for those on Medicare were no different in areas where hospitals closed than in areas where hospital access was unchanged. This was true for those who were

  • State agencies, energy companies taking reasonable approach to Oklahoma quakes

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, May 14, 2015

    Drilling moratorium isn’t the answer

  • No need to water down government contract bid guidelines

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, May 14, 2015

    Oklahoma Gov. Fallin was right to veto bill

  • Washington Examiner: Where the tax cheats are

    Washington Examiner editorial | Published: Wed, May 13, 2015

    PERHAPS it comes as no surprise that Internal Revenue Service officials have not been held to account for their role in targeting conservative nonprofit applicants. Perhaps the multiple deceptions involved in that scandal — including the concealment of retrievable emails — just offers another example of what Americans have come to expect from the federal bureaucracy. That IRS malingering deliberately made this year’s tax filing season harder for taxpayers should surely add to this same impression. So should the fact that many IRS employees are behind in paying their own taxes — there were 18,300 cases of this in the last 10 years, in an agency with roughly 85,000 employees. But it’s actually much worse than that.

  • Logic behind using bond issues applies to more than just one Oklahoma proposal

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, May 13, 2015

    PROPONENTS of a pop culture museum in Tulsa say it can be financed without “new” bond debt. There’s truth to that claim, but the same thing can be said about many bond proposals. If bond financing is acceptable for one project, there’s no reason to reject it for other legitimate needs. Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, wants to provide funding for the Tulsa museum, called OKPOP. In a nutshell, the Oklahoma Historical Society would issue new bonds as existing bonds are paid off. Bonds issued in 1999 to build the Oklahoma History Center are scheduled to be retired in 2018. Thus, there would be no “new” debt accrued by the OKPOP project, simply a continuation of existing levels.

  • Raiding Oklahoma teacher pensions would be a bad idea

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, May 12, 2015

    Idea has been floated at Legislature

  • OSU grads received sound advice from Sen. James Lankford

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, May 12, 2015

    Work with others, love your country

  • Fiscal policy should be designed to cover fat times and lean times

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, May 11, 2015

    IF Oklahoma’s economy is “thriving,” as two economists noted recently, how can gross production receipts be down? Why does a group of (mostly) liberal-leaning citizens want to prevent the next personal income tax cut? What’s “thriving” about energy companies’ big losses in the first quarter? Reminds us of the quip about how professional economists successfully predicted nine of the last five recessions. But this is no joking matter. Economic analysis is complex. An economy can be “thriving” even if some metrics indicate otherwise. Finally, tax policy by and large should never be situational.

  • Are misconceptions fueling bad policy?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, May 11, 2015

    ONE problem with laws based on feel-good goals rather than concrete analysis is their results can leave much to be desired. This in turn can prompt countermeasures that are just as poorly conceived. Efforts to mandate the sizes of chicken cages illustrate the problem. California now requires that eggs come from facilities where hens have sufficient space to lie down, turn around and extend their wings. That law wasn’t driven by food safety or environmental concerns, but by purported animal welfare benefit. Many hens are housed in cages measuring about 67 square inches in size. So California producers are shifting to either larger cages or cage-free facilities.

  • Oklahoma making small but welcome steps in criminal justice reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, May 10, 2015

    TO expect sweeping criminal justice reform in Oklahoma is asking too much. We saw evidence of that a few years ago when a reform bill was approved with great fanfare, only to see implementation essentially screech to a halt as soon as the law’s champion left the Legislature due to term limits. Yet this session has produced some progress in this important arena, a few signs that the Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature are beginning to realize that fiscally and morally, the status quo on corrections can’t continue. This progress deserves mention. Last week Gov.

  • Lawsuit against Oklahoma scholarship program defies logic

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, May 10, 2015

    We hope the individuals challenging an Oklahoma scholarship program for children with special needs are double-jointed. If not, all the contortions they’re going through to justify their lawsuit could do permanent damage. The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Act provides state funds for children with special needs to attend private school if they aren’t being properly served in public schools.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: State court website is worth protecting

    The Oklahoman editorials | Published: Sat, May 9, 2015

    THE website oscn.net is a treasure trove of legal information that’s viewed more than half a million times a day by attorneys, judges, media and the general public. It’s also in danger of going out of existence due to dwindling funds. The website is paid for through a $25 fee assessed in all civil cases. Those fees generated nearly $15 million in fiscal year 2014 — money that’s also used to pay for judges’ information technology. Last year, the Legislature siphoned $10 million away from the IT fund to use it for other court operations. The IT fund has about $23 million in it, but lawmakers — wrestling with a $611 million budget shortfall — are considering taking all but $1 million of that for other court

  • As session winds down, so does clock on OKC Indian museum

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, May 8, 2015

    TIME is running out for the Legislature to act on funding the completion of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. Where have we heard that before? Only every year for the past several, and especially since construction at the site stopped in 2012 due to lack of money. The state now spends about $6 million per year for maintenance expenses and debt retirement, with nothing to show for it. This cannot continue. The Oklahoman has editorialized in support of the museum since the early 2000s, when the project began to move from conception to reality. We believe it would give the state a top-flight attraction that celebrates Oklahoma’s rich American Indian history and culture. And, it would enhance the ongoing

  • Lawmakers should resist urge to tap into Oklahoma road funds

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, May 8, 2015

    OKLAHOMA House Democrats took a page from Rahm Emanuel’s playbook this week, standing under a damaged Belle Isle bridge in Oklahoma City to argue that Republicans shouldn’t consider filling the state’s budget hole by cutting funding from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. It was Emanuel who as White House chief of staff famously said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Although the condition of the Belle Isle bridges doesn’t constitute a crisis — ODOT plans to spend $7 million to immediately fix damage to the bridges’ support piers — Tuesday’s photo-op gave Democrats a chance to play politics with this issue. But it also allowed them to make an important point: Transportation funding is

  • EPA compliance effort likely a waste of money for Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, May 7, 2015

    ALTHOUGH they’ve differed on tactics, Gov. Mary Fallin, Attorney General Scott Pruitt and Republican lawmakers appear to agree that the state should not assist with implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan. They have good reason for holding that view. The Clean Power Plan would require carbon dioxide emissions from power plants to be 30 percent lower by 2030 than they were in 2005. This effectively requires closure of many existing coal-fired power plants and construction of new power plants that rely on natural gas to replace them. Industry experts note that installation of new transmission line takes an average of six years. Yet the Clean Power Plan effectively requires Oklahoma

  • List of GOP presidential contenders will only continue to grow

    The Oklahoman editorial | Published: Thu, May 7, 2015

    ON Monday, Carly Fiorina and Dr. Ben Carson formally announced that they wish to be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2016. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee did the same Tuesday, bringing to a half-dozen the number of candidates officially in. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz got the ball rolling with his announcement in late March. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rand Paul followed soon after. And chances are good the list will grow, perhaps to a dozen or more, in the next several months. Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham and Chris Christie, to name a few, are among those mentioned as potential or likely candidates. All have their sights on following Barack Obama in the White House and repairing some of the damage

  • Oklahoma lawmakers have a second chance at a good bill

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, May 6, 2015

    IN the Legislature, no idea is truly dead until adjournment. In the case of Sen. David Holt’s efforts to increase charter school opportunities, that’s a good thing. Holt, R-Oklahoma City, authored legislation this year to add the city governments of Oklahoma City and Tulsa to the list of entities that can sponsor charter schools. That bill easily passed the Senate, with bipartisan support, but didn’t get a hearing in the House of Representatives. Now Holt has revived that idea as an amendment added to House Bill 1696, a measure allowing charter schools in rural communities. The amended bill easily passed the Senate 38-6. It now awaits a House vote.

  • Soon, fast-food combos will include more than a burger, fries and a drink

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, May 6, 2015

    COME December, fast-food combo meals will include more than a burger, fries and soft drink. They also will include information, at no extra charge. Included will be what a meal will cost a customer in terms of calories, fat grams, sodium, etc. Seven months from now, the federal government will require full disclosure of nutrition information at restaurants, just as it already does for most products sold in supermarkets. Smaller eateries will be exempted. So too will be bake sales, charity spaghetti suppers and the like. In general, disclosure requirements are less onerous than outright restrictions. For example, mandatory disclosure of ATM fees is less of an overreach than limiting how much the fee can be.

  • Pharmacies critical to Oklahoma efforts to curb prescription drug abuse

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, May 5, 2015

    NOT one of the pharmacists or pharmacies contacted by The Oklahoman responded to interview requests regarding their recent troubles with the Oklahoma State Pharmacy Board. Perhaps that reluctance was understandable, given the magnitude of their mistakes. Reporter Andrew Knittle reviewed pharmacy board records covering 2010 through 2014 and found that the oversight agency had levied 21 fines of more than $20,000. In some cases, pharmacies had allowed thousands of powerful painkillers to go missing — especially egregious lapses considering Oklahoma’s efforts to curb the state’s problem with prescription drug abuse. Just last month, Gov.

  • Some reason for encouragement in latest report about Oklahoma child welfare efforts

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, May 4, 2015

    THERE is some reason for encouragement in the latest report by out-of-state experts who are overseeing Oklahoma’s child welfare reform efforts. More so than in their previous three critiques, this time they found a few things worth praising at the Department of Human Services. The three experts, called “co-neutrals,” are monitoring Oklahoma’s efforts to comply with a 2012 settlement agreement that resolved a federal class-action lawsuit against DHS. The state subsequently created the Pinnacle Plan, which sets improvement goals in several areas of the child welfare system, ranging from reducing worker caseloads to eliminating the use of state shelters for abused and neglected children.




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