The Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know. Because The Weekly Wonk was on hiatus last weekend, this edition features links and information from the past two weeks.
This week, OK Policy Summer Education Leadership Initiative Fellow Rebecca Hollis shared the benefits of community schools. A guest post explained why tracking school readiness matters in Oklahoma. We discussed why a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of tax cuts passed in the prior legislative session could be a game-changer.
Using the experiences of California and Kansas as examples, we pointed out how and why the economic case for tax cuts is in shambles. We presented more proof that hiking copayments for Medicaid recipients doesn’t actually create savings. We reviewed how, this session, lawmakers had the opportunity to enact effective legislation to combat prescription drug addiction in the state – and fumbled it. We’ve written about prescription drug addiction in Oklahoma before.
NewsOK quoted Executive Director David Blatt in their reporting on the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s decision to raise copays for Medicaid recipients. Blatt argued against raising copays in his Journal Record column and in the Tulsa World. We’ve discussed at length why the copayments will harm health without saving the state money (here, here, and here). The Oklahoman’s editorial board suggested that our dismay at the hikes was “unwarranted.”
The Washington Post quoted Blatt in their discussion of the recently-announced extension of Insure Oklahoma. We’ve written before about how Insure Oklahoma could be used to extend health coverage to all low-income Oklahomans. Blatt was also quoted in an article by Dissent Magazine examining how states and cities are stepping into the void left by congressional obstruction to address problems of inequality, economic stagnation, and climate change.
In the Oklahoma Gazette, policy analyst Carly Putnam made the case for the importance of Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in Oklahoma. The Red Dirt Report cited OK Policy statistics while describing the devastating impact of “tough on crime” policies.
In our Editorial of the Week, the Tulsa World argued against a law passed this session declaring gold and silver coins legal tender and exempting sales of gold coins from sales taxes. The move is expected to cost the state nearly $1 million in the next budget year.
Quote of the Week
“I made some of the toughest votes today that I’ve ever made in my life. I’m against every one of these rules but I can’t help it.”
- Former Sen. George Miller, a member of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority Board, speaking about their votes to slash provider rates, increase copayments, and reduce services for Medicaid. With flat state funding and lawmakers refusing to accept federal funds offered under the Affordable Care Act, Oklahoma Medicaid is facing a $225 million shortfall this year (Source: http://bit.ly/1vbZ4Fp).
Numbers of the Day
- 231,000 – Number of Oklahomans employed in education or health services, nearly 13 percent of all workers in the state.
- 98,923 – Number of Oklahoma youth that participated in 4-H programs in 2012.
- 15.6% – Percentage of Oklahomans with disabilities.
- 113,324 -Miles of public road in Oklahoma as of 2008.
- 13.3 percent – Percentage of Oklahoma K-12 public school revenue that comes from the federal government.
- 34 – Number of arrest-related deaths in Oklahoma in 2013, including those shot by police officers, committing suicide, or killed in an auto accident.
- $572,500 – Job creation incentive payments Chesapeake Energy is still eligible to collect this year from Oklahoma City, despite laying off more than 700 positions at its OKC headquarters.
- 128 – Number of painkiller prescriptions per 100 people in Oklahoma, the 5th highest rate in the nation.
- 123,000 – The number of uninsured Oklahomans who would have health insurance by 2016 if Oklahoma accepts federal funds to extend coverage to low-income residents
What We’re Reading
- Pacific Standard examines how a growing number of American kids in the child welfare system are being adopted out to other countries.
- The absence of guaranteed paid family leave in the United States is preventing us from seeing working men as fathers, writes The New Republic
- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities discusses what the budgetary disaster emerging from Kansas’ radical tax-cutting experiment should mean for other states.
- Governing reports how states are requiring tougher entry requirements for teacher colleges and more proof of subject mastery before teachers can enter the classroom.
- The Washington Post shares new research describing the anticipated impact of Millenials on the housing market.
- Kansas’s tax cuts are costing much more than that state originally estimated. The New York Times explains why.
- SCOTUSBlog summarizes the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby contraceptives ruling in plain English.
- The New York Times argues that cash grants are an effective way to help the poorest of the poor in the U.S. and internationally.
- States and cities are stepping into the void left by congressional obstruction to address problems of inequality, economic stagnation, and climate change, reports Dissent Magazine.