The first batch of data came out from the U.S. Census Bureau last week, and the results for Oklahoma were pretty much what most people expected: steady growth and no change in the number of congressional seats. (Read my story here.)
For the record, Oklahoma’s population stood at 3,751,351 residents in April of this year. That’s up more than 300,000 people, or 8.7 percent, from the population in 2000.
The first Census numbers are important because they are used for the decennial apportionment of congressional seats. Oklahoma, which lost a seat after the 2000 Census, will stay at five House seats.
Overall, 18 states will trade 12 House seats in the 2012 elections. Texas, which added four seats, and Florida, with another two seats, were the big winners. Adding single seats were Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Among the losers are New York and Ohio, both of which will lose two seats. Meanwhile, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania each will lose one seat.
The population base for the apportionment numbers is slightly higher than what the Census counts as the resident population. That’s because the apportionment numbers include military and federal employees posted overseas. In Oklahoma, the apportionment population was 3,764,882. That included 13,531 Oklahomans overseas. The state ranked 24th in the number of residents overseas.
Apportionment tries to keep the number of people in each House seat at roughly the same levels. This year, the average number of residents in each congressional district reached 710,767 people. That’s up from 646,942 people in the average congressional district in 2000.
However, because of the way the apportionment formula works, not all states will have 710,767 people in each of their congressional districts. Before any seats are doled out on population, each state gets one House seat automatically. The remaining 385 seats are distributed according to a formula, called the “method of equal proportions,” that’s been in use since 1941.
The following chart shows each state’s average population per congressional district after the latest apportionment. Click for a larger version
As you can see, Oklahoma’s per-seat average is almost 42,000 more than the U.S. average of 710,767. Arizona and Wisconsin are pretty close to the average. Every state above them in the chart can be thought of as having disproportionately less influence per seat than the states below them. Seven states have at-large congressional seats; their populations range from 568,300 for Wyoming to 994,416 for Montana.
Keith Gaddie, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma, said what counts in apportionment is the relative growth of states. Even though Oklahoma added 300,000 people in the last decade, its growth rate was still a full percentage point lower than the nation as a whole. And compared to Texas’ growth rate of 20.6 percent, Oklahoma is lagging. The Lone Star State added more than 4.2 million people in the last decade.
“Texas added more people over the last decade than there are in Oklahoma,” Gaddie said. “Texas grew so much, it grew an entire Oklahoma. Texas now has over seven times the voting power in Congress than Oklahoma does. In 1930, Texas only had twice the voting power in Congress that Oklahoma had. We appear to be headed in a very different direction in terms of the size and influence of the Congressional delegation.”
Despite that, the “redness” of the state will work in our favor once the 112th Congress begins in January. With the Republican takeover in the House, several Oklahoma lawmakers will get prime committee seats. For example, U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, will chair the House Agriculture Committee.
Gaddie said Oklahoma was 16th in line to add a House seat this time around. The state would have had to add another 125,000 new residents to gain a seat under the apportionment formula, according to Election Data Services.
There’s been some controversy over whether the Census Bureau should count undocumented immigrants when it comes to apportionment. Clark Bensen at Polidata Co. has some interesting comments about counting only citizens in Oklahoma and other states:
CITIZEN POPULATION: Had the apportionment been done on the basis of citizen population, there would have been many differences. Of course, the important caveat here is that this is merely an illustrative exercise because of both legal and technical considerations. To assess the rate of citizenship the source is the 2009 1-year release of the American Community Survey (ACS). Changes over the 2000 actual apportionment would have been significant had this rule been applied.
For example, using this estimate of the citizen population as the apportionment base:
a) CA would have not remained the same but lost 5 seats.
b) NY would have not lost 2 seats but lost 3 seats,
c) TX would have not gained 4 seats but gained only 2 seats.
d) OH would have not lost 2 seats but lost only 1 seat.
e) FL would have gained not 2 seats but gained only 1 seat.
f) other states that would have gained a seat or not lost a seat include: MT, OK, MO (not lost), IN, PA (not lost), and NC.
In the end, this kind of analysis is futile because the Fourteenth Amendment requires apportionment to count each person, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status:
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.
The data must be used to apportion the House seats among the states, although there is no constitutional requirement it be used to determine intrastate districts. It appears the term “whole number of persons” is broad enough to include all individuals, regardless of citizenship status, and thus would appear to require the entire population be included in the apportionment calculation. As such, it appears a constitutional amendment would be necessary to exclude any individuals from the census count for the purpose of apportioning House seats.
It’s that time of year, when we in the news business run endless lists and end-of-year wrap-ups. I’m jumping on the bandwagon, so here goes:
Thanks for reading, and have a Happy New Year!
The U.S. Census Bureau, which releases some sort of data nearly every week, released its largest trove of data in a decade earlier this week with the 5-year estimates for the American Community Survey. Next week, it will release the first batch of results from the 2010 Census conducted earlier this year.
Here’s a quick rundown of what’s important in each release:
American Community Survey 5-year estimates
These are estimates of all types of demographic and sociological information for every part of the country, from states all the way down to the smallest census-level geography called a block group. The American Community Survey is sent to 3 million households each year. From those surveys, the Census Bureau can perform estimates in several categories.
- To look up your community in the latest ACS estimates, check out the American Factfinder tool.
This latest 5-year ACS release covers 2005 to 2009. The Census Bureau has been releasing similar information, in either 1-year estimates or 3-year estimates, for larger levels of population since 2007. For example, 1-year ACS estimates cover places with more than 65,000 people. The 3-year estimates cover places with more than 20,000 people.
Since this is a survey, and not an actual count like the decennial census, these data points come with margins of error, much like you’d see margins of error in an election poll. The Census Bureau has a lot of technical documentation on how it figures the estimates, but what you need to know is that the smaller the population area, the higher the margin of error.
For example, the margin of error for the percentage of high school graduates in Wellston, Okla., is plus/minus 10 percentage points. For Oklahoma City, the same category has a margin of error of plus/minus 0.5 percentage points. That’s because Wellston has a population of about 1,000 people, and Oklahoma City has about 546,000 people. Fewer ACS surveys went to Wellston residents than they did to residents in Oklahoma City, but the Census also takes confidentiality into account.
Here’s how the Census Bureau describes it:
To maintain confidentiality, the Census Bureau applies statistical procedures that introduce some uncertainty into data for geographic areas with small population groups.
Despite these limitations at really small places or units of geography, the ACS data is still useful to policymakers, academics and the public. The real benefit from having this ACS data will come in the next few years, when we have a baseline against which we can compare new data releases.
The New York Times released a slick-looking interactive map showing some of the latest ACS estimates: Click for an interactive version
The newspaper, with the help of Social Explorer, plotted various demographic estimates for each Census tract in the country. They used what’s called a dot-distribution map, which spaced out the dots randomly within the area of that particular tract. While it’s visually compelling, that can cause dots to show up in strange places, like the middle of a lake.
2010 Census Apportionment/State Population data
This is the first batch of information from the 2010 census. It will be limited to population counts for the nation and states. By law, this data has to be reported to the president by Dec. 31.
The census uses this information to do apportionment, the allocation of congressional seats in the House of Representatives. Unlike 2000, when Oklahoma lost a congressional seat, there will be no change in the number of House seats this year.
The number of House seats–which now stands at 435–has been set since 1911. The first House of Representatives had just 65 seats in 1787. That rose to 105 after the 1790 Census.
For more on apportionment, check out this video from the Census Bureau:
Here’s some more information on previous population totals by state: Click for an interactive version
From today’s paper:
By PAUL MONIES
pmonies (at) opubco.com
Almost half of the 400 employees at the Oklahoma Agriculture Department received raises in November and December, even as its top appointed official prepares to leave the agency next month during a state budget crunch.
Outgoing Agriculture Secretary Terry Peach said the raises were planned for some time and went through the Office of Personnel Management for approval.
Peach said he kept 5 percent back from his state budget appropriation. He told agency division directors they could spend it on raises if state revenue looked like it might improve.
“I think we ought to be patted on the back for managing our budget, not criticized,” Peach said.
“Our agreement was if we didn’t have any budget cuts this fall, between July 1 and December, that I would give them that money back, and they would be able to give their employees equity-based raises. It was not an across-the-board raise to all of our employees.”
House Speaker-elect Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, called the timing of the raises suspect.
“While I believe in competitive wages for employees, the timing of these raises is disturbing,” Steele said in a statement. “There is an appearance that officials may be draining state coffers as they leave office and abusing the public trust. I certainly hope that is not the case, and I believe our budget hearings should carefully scrutinize these issues in the days ahead.”
The Oklahoma Policy Institute released estimates earlier this month showing the state could face a shortfall of about $400 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
The Oklahoman previously reported that 130 employees at agencies headed by statewide elected officials received raises or promotions in the last year, with several coming in the last few months. After the Republican sweep of statewide offices in November elections, those agencies will be under new leaders in January.
Almost 200 employees at the Agriculture Department received raises in either November or December, Peach said. The agency has 404 employees, although it’s authorized to have 502. Of about 120 pay raises examined by The Oklahoman, many appeared to be less than 10 percent.
Peach said when he took over the Agriculture Department, many of the employees were at the low end of a three-level pay scale.
“When I came on board eight years ago, we started hiring everybody at midpoint,” Peach said. “Over this full eight years, we were never able to have enough money to catch everybody up, but we were able to get everybody at midpoint.”
With the latest raises, Peach said classified employees will be making the same as everybody else at their job level. For example, there used to be a difference in pay between employees classified as “Forester I.” That difference will be eliminated, he said.
“We’re still way underpaid compared to a lot of other state agencies,” Peach said. “Other state agencies have been doing this thing for the last two or three years. We actually put a freeze on our budget two years ago, so we didn’t give any raises those years. That actually paid off very well for us because we had two furlough days last year, and many agencies had more than that.”
Scott Barger, deputy director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, said it could be risky to give raises halfway through the state’s fiscal year.
“During these times, I think most of the state agencies out there that have ‘lapsed’ personnel money are holding on to that,” Barger said. “You never know when you can utilize that money to help the budget situation and keep employees on the front lines.”
Gov.-elect Mary Fallin named Jim Reese as her agriculture secretary last month. Reese, a former state representative, served as a federal agriculture official under President George W. Bush. More recently, he was a rural policy adviser to outgoing House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa.
It’s been more than a year since outgoing Attorney General Drew Edmondson issued an opinion on the release of public employee birth dates that made the issue anything but clear.
During that time, we’ve had bills filed at the Legislature, open-records requests, bizarre press conferences and a flurry of legal briefs and judicial orders. In the end, we’re not much closer to a resolution than we were in December of last year.
First, a little refresher on why I think it’s important that public employee DOBs remain open under the state’s Open Records Act:
- They are a key identifier to distinguish people with the same first and last name. We used them extensively to verify the backgrounds of candidates for November’s elections.
- The Oklahoma Open Records Act already protects public employees’ privacy by outlawing the release of social security numbers, home addresses and home telephone numbers. The Legislature had a chance to amend the act earlier this year, but chose not to, despite pressure from state employee associations and sympathetic lawmakers.
- Every single registered voter in Oklahoma has their birth date on file in voter registration records that are available to anyone for a fee from the state Election Board.
- The state makes millions of dollars each year from selling information — including DOBs — from the motor vehicle records of every Oklahoma driver to insurance companies and employment screening firms.
- State laws protecting consumers from breaches of sensitive data from the private sector do not include DOBs as part of what’s considered “personal information.”
Dixon allowed state agencies to poll their employees over whether workers minded their birth dates being released as part of an open records request. As expected, that’s resulted in a patchwork of agencies that didn’t mind, some that were split and some that objected to the release. Here’s a breakdown, according to a legal filing made earlier this month on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management:
Agencies approving: 21
Agencies opposed: 78
Agencies split: 23
Not responding: 32
Among the agencies that opposed the release of the DOBs was the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, the state’s public television station. John McCarroll, OETA’s executive director, said the agency asked its 68 employees about the issue a few months ago. Nineteen were opposed, while the rest didn’t mind or did not respond, he said.
“None of our journalistic staff had a problem with it,” McCarroll said. “But we have engineers and clerical workers and all kinds of folks who work with us. It wasn’t from a journalistic side that we had a problem with it.”
McCarroll decided because there was a split that none of the DOBs should be released. He said he didn’t want undue suspicion on the employees who objected.
“Some of them gave a reason, that they had their identity stolen in the past, that there were marital problems,” McCarroll said. “But we didn’t really specifically ask for a reason. By the numbers, we said, ‘Let’s just not do this until we know we have to.’ We’re a news organization ourselves, so we’re not opposed to it, but as an employer we felt like we at least owed it to our staff to let them know. It’s not that we don’t want those birth dates to be released, but we just want to know how it’s going to be used. My thought on it was we’ll handle it on a case-by-case basis.”
McCarroll touched on the main opposition to the release of the DOBs: the risk of identity theft. In fact, that was the argument relied on recently by the Texas Supreme Court in a case involving state employees’ DOBs in Texas.
In a 5-2 decision, the Texas Supreme Court brushed back lower courts and the Texas attorney general when it ruled public employee DOBs should be withheld in the Lone Star State. In 2005, The Dallas Morning News had requested employee salaries, birth dates, race, sex and other standard public employee information from the state’s Comptroller of Public Accounts.
In the majority decision, the court said:
The News responds that it has no interest in disclosing birth dates to the world, but rather would use the information to investigate inappropriate hires or other misadventures the state may commit. We do not doubt that the News would put the information to beneficial use. But if the requested is disclosed to the News, it must be disclosed to any applicant, including those who would employ it for illegitimate purposes.
By that reasoning, then anything that could be used for “illegitimate purposes” should be outlawed. That’s what Justice Dale Wainwright said in a dissenting opinion:
In other words, the harm is not in the disclosure of the birth date, but in the possibility that some evildoer may use a birth date to gain other information (such as a social security number) which he or she then may use to commit identity theft. Never before has the Court held that information is not subject to disclosure under the (Public Information Act) because the information may lead to other information that may be used to cause harm. By that logic, much information of a personal nature would be immune from disclosure — names of public employees, dates of employment, home addresses. This sort of information, taken together with other information, might lead to the employee’s social security number and possibility to identity theft. While the state has outlawed identity theft, and individuals may sue when others misappropriate their private data, the Court should not allow subversion of the open-government policies of the PIA under the risk that some of the public information may later be misused.
The Austin American-Statesman has an interesting story today about a new film from Texas director Robert Rodriguez being denied state film rebates over its content.
The newspaper reports that the denial was made over of a section of the Texas law that allows the film commission to deny a rebate application because of “inappropriate content or content that portrays Texas or Texans in a negative fashion, as determined by the office, in a moving image project.”
Texas film industry insiders said they were disappointed by the decision to deny rebates for “Machete.” They also said films could still be made with rebates from other states, including Oklahoma:
Austin screenwriter and author Si Dunn , who was one of the paid extras in “Machete,” said Wednesday, “Texas needs to do a much better job of politically supporting its movie and television industry…. The notion that state legislators somehow can protect Texas’ image from ‘negative light’ is just laughable — and sadly naive. Movies casting some aspect of Texas in a ‘negative light’ can be made with help from state incentives in Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma or almost any other state and then be shown in Texas theaters.”
Earlier this year, I asked Jill Simpson, director of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office, if there were any concerns about protecting free expression in Oklahoma’s film rebate program. At the time, we were talking about some of the violent images captured in “The Killer Inside Me,” which was filmed partly in Oklahoma and received rebates.
Here’s what Simpson said in a February interview:
My job is a really interesting intersection; it’s art meets industry. My job and the film commission’s mission in statute is to administer the rebate program to develop the industry and that’s what we do. Other than making sure it’s not pornography or child pornography, according to statute — I’m not the producer, writer, director on the film — that is beyond the scope of what my job is.
I will say, in the case of “Killer,” as I’ve said before, I took the script and compared it word for word to the novel and was very happy with how closely the script mirrored the original material, which is a classic. What you can’t know is exactly how it’s going to be filmed or edited.
But with states trying to find money anywhere to close budget gaps, incentives of all types have come under fire. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has proposed $9 million in cuts to that state’s film and TV incentives for the 2011 budget, according to the Austin newspaper.
In Oklahoma, the film rebate program is capped at $5 million a year. A separate program that allowed some filmmakers to use rural and small business venture capital tax credits was suspended by lawmakers earlier this year to help balance the FY 2011 budget.
- Related post: DataWatch: Film incentives under fire fire–director’s cut edition
- Related: Film industry rallies to save Missouri tax credits
- Related: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, State Film Subsidies: Not Much Bang for Too Many Bucks
- Related: MPAA slaps back at film tax incentive study
From Sunday’s newspaper:
By PAUL MONIES
pmonies (at) opubco.com
Thousands of state employees have gone through layoffs, furloughs or salary freezes during the budget crunch, but 130 employees at executive agencies have had raises in the last year.
Almost one-third of those raises came in the past few months at agencies whose elected heads will be leaving office in January, according to an analysis of state payroll records by The Oklahoman.
The raises range from increases of 3 percent for an audit supervisor at the Auditor and Inspector’s office to more than 40 percent for an executive assistant at the state Education Department.
Overall, 130 employees at eight elected agencies received raises from October 2009 to October 2010, the analysis found. Thirty-eight employees had raises since the beginning of the state’s fiscal year in July.
“It appears to me that the front-line employees are not the ones receiving the greater benefits on the raises,” said Sterling Zearley, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.
“Right now is not a good time to be doing that because we’re looking at maybe additional furloughs or reductions in force in this budget cycle.”
Most of the raises came in unclassified positions. They are not subject to the same rules for salary increases as classified positions under the state’s merit protection system.
Officials at the agencies said some of the raises were promotions to the positions of departing employees.
Others said their agencies were below the number of employees authorized by the Legislature and they were being prudent with state money.
“We’re doing more with less while still addressing pay parity issues, both within our own agency and in comparison to other state agencies and the private sector,” said Trey Davis, spokesman for Steve Burrage, the outgoing Democratic state auditor. Burrage will be succeeded by Republican Gary Jones in January.
The auditor’s office employs 112 people, below the 140 positions it was authorized for this fiscal year. Last year, the agency had authorization for 169 employees, Davis said.
Pay raises went to 49 employees at the auditor’s office, according to the payroll analysis. Davis said those who received raises had more responsibilities, gained skills or tackled more challenging projects.
“This action is necessary for (state auditor and inspector) to remain functional and to maintain staffing levels,” Davis said. “Other agencies have occasion to work with our auditors and, in the past, these agencies consistently made job offers to our personnel because their salary structure for auditors was considerably higher.”
On the campaign trail, Republican Gov.-elect Mary Fallin talked about “right-sizing” state government, including looking at agency consolidation and performance. Outgoing Democratic Gov. Brad Henry set up a task force in 2007 to study state employee compensation. One of its top recommendations was an examination of classified and unclassified positions at executive agencies.
“Data collection processes are less uniform in unclassified service positions, resulting in inability to compare salary to market and inconsistent use and application of job descriptions,” the report stated.
Henry included money in his 2009 executive budget for an independent consulting firm to perform the study, but it wasn’t funded by lawmakers.
Zearley, who served on the task force along with private industry and government representatives, said the last statewide pay increase came in 2006. Employees under merit protection can get raises if they meet standardized skill requirements or market conditions.
“With the unclassified side, there’s not that good of a process in place,” said Zearley, whose group represents about 10,000 mostly classified employees. “I don’t think there’s any oversight.”
About 27 percent of the state’s work force, or 10,300 employees, are in unclassified positions, according to the latest Office of Personnel Management annual report. That’s up from about 8,000 unclassified positions in 2004.
Agency directors and appointed or elected leaders need a certain amount of flexibility in staffing their agencies, Zearley said.
High-demand jobs, like computer specialists or accountants, also are hard to fill for many agencies.
The Insurance Department, which had 23 employees receive raises in the last year, performed its own salary study in 2006, said spokesman Marc Young. The department noticed turnover in its financial division and years of experience as areas of concern. Those are among the criteria used by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners during its accreditation process, he said.
“A lot of those salaries were driven by changes we needed to make that were budgeted for over a two- or three-year period of time,” Young said. “A lot of those jobs in the financial division require a degree or professional licenses like (certified public accountant) or certified financial examiner.”
Tim Allen, spokesman for outgoing Treasurer Scott Meacham, said the agency recently advertised for a CPA. It had no applicants at the salary offered, so the agency had to find money to increase the position’s salary. Four employees at the treasurer’s office received raises in the last year. Three were CPAs, Allen said.
“When we have people leave, we look at reassigning their duties and giving people who picked up new responsibilities a minor increase in compensation,” Allen said.
Three employees at the governor’s office received raises in the last year. Spokesman Paul Sund said two were promotions. J.D. Strong, Henry’s secretary of the environment, said he received a $10,000 annual raise because he also became interim director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Strong was named the board’s permanent director in October.
Some agencies, such as the state Education Department and the Labor Department, have employees who are paid either partially or entirely by federal funds. If the federal government has a pay increase or cost-of-living adjustment, it has to be implemented for those federal workers at state agencies, too.
Mannix Barnes, chief of staff for outgoing Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields, said many of the safety inspection employees at the agency have unique skills. Most of its 87 employees are in classified positions, he said. Raises went to 18 employees in the last year.
“Our OSHA safety consultants, asbestos inspectors, boiler inspectors and amusement ride inspectors are not something you can just run an ad for in the newspaper,” Barnes said. “It takes years of training. We try to protect the investment the taxpayers made in their training and be somewhat competitive salary-wise.”
Democrat Sandy Garrett, the outgoing state schools superintendent, said agency employment has dropped to 360 from 650 when she took over in 1991. She said most of the 25 employees given raises this year were promoted into vacant positions. The agency has 50 fewer employees than its authorized level, she said.
“I’ve met with the incoming superintendent and explained this to her so she would know she has some wiggle room and some of her own people to fill in the vacancies,” said Garrett, who will be succeeded by Republican Janet Barresi in January.