April 2016
Churches and society are confronted by many issues such as poverty, the environment, immigration, education, health, and criminal justice. By working together, individuals, churches, and communities can share information, organize efforts, and share resources. The OCC Social Justice Ministry Network gives us a vitally important tool enabling us to do this.

How does it work? Each representative is kept informed by OCC of important issues, including the work of the OCC IMPACT Committee as it tracks Oklahoma legislation. Where appropriate, we will produce relevant statements and recommend responsible action. Network representatives will then determine how best to disseminate this information to members of their own congregation and other interested persons. Sign up online at OCC's website to join the SJMN!
Click on the embedded links in the paragraphs below for more in-depth information on each topic.

It is ironic that our churches have worked for hundreds of years to help third world countries obtain safe drinking water, basic health care, and education, and we are now called to sustain the continuation of these same services in our own state. Three characteristics of a first world country, in which the USA is usually placed, are a long
and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Far too many of our neighbors in Oklahoma are not experiencing any or all of these. We meet them at the doors of our churches as they need food or gasoline or help with paying their utility bills. We meet them as we feed the homeless and send backpacks of food home with children so they will have something to eat over the weekend. We meet them when they get off the bus after being released from prison with no place to go and no hope except perhaps a return to crime. We can do better than that. God calls us to do better than that. While we will continue to work to meet these most basic needs, let us answer the call to bring the justice necessary to alleviate the needs in the first place.

Marilynn Knott, Volunteer Coordinator
Social Justice Ministry Network

The state's revenue failure remains the  overriding issue faci n Oklahoma. The legislature and the governor must make tough decisions to recover and re turn our state to a stable financial footing. Our elected representatives are under extreme p ressure f rom all sides as they implement steps to address this. It is imperative that we let th em know exactly where we stand regarding not only the need to take these steps, but how it is to be done. Let them know we will support them if they make  prurient decisions that take into consideration the Common Good of all our citizens. Legislation to address revenue failure has not b een designed yet. It will be included in the appropriations bill. Other changes needed may be added to current bills being tracked. We will keep you posted on such changes as we discover them.


To address the revenue failure, we need immediate short-term fixes as well as long- term ones.  The Oklahoma Policy Institute has provided some insight into possible short- term steps that can be implemented quickly. This document (click here) summarizes these recommendations.   One of the important longer-term solutions is redesigning the incentive tax breaks given to corporations to encourage them to come to Oklahoma or to expand work opportunities. These incentives should be linked to stipulations on required outcomes in order to continue receiving the tax breaks. Oklahoma needs a better system of assuring and enforcing that the stipulations are being met for companies to continue receiving tax breaks. 

Thank you to all who contacted your legislators regarding HB2665, designed to cut low income adults from the Medicaid program. The bill failed in the Senate Committee. The future of health care in Oklahoma, however, remains grim. The Health Care Authority is propo sing a 25% cut in payment rates for all Medicaid services to reduce expenditures in response to the revenue failures this year and those yet to come. Such a cut would be devastating to the entire healthcare industry. The majority of patient care in nursing homes in Oklahoma is paid through the Medicaid program. Over 500,000 Oklahoman's health care is funded through Medicaid. The continuation of this care with such a marked reduction is not feasible. The loss of these funds will dramatically, negatively impact health care availability and accessibility for everyone in the state.

Democracy is predicated on assuring the provision of quality, free education to all its citizens. Oklahoma has taken strides over the past 40 years to shore up funding for public education. We passed legislation in the late 1980's laying out a framework with funding for education progress. We have approved horse racing and Indian gaming programs--painful decisions for many people of faith--to subsidize not supplant the funding of our education system. Much of these efforts has been eroded with general tax cuts and lack of appropriate management of our revenue systems. Our voices need to be heard again!

Restorative justice may be one candle glowing in the dark this legislative session as there seems to be a movement toward making some important changes in our criminal justice system. Please click here to read a letter to legislators that outlines OCC's IMPACT Committee's positions on these bills. Contact your representatives and senators to ask for their support of these bills.
301 N.W. 36th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73118
www.okchurches.org    |  405-525-2928 
The Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee, Executive Director