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.
This week, we released our FY 2015 budget highlights, which include a bullet-point summary of the budget, six charts illustrating different aspects of the budget, and a table showing state appropriations for every agency since 2009. Lawmakers may have illegally taken funds out of the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program to balance next year’s budget. The Daily Ardmorite quoted from this analysis in their discussion of the issue.
We made the case in favor of reading Toni Morrison’s classic The Bluest Eye, arguing that the novel is highly relevant to state issues. The Tulsa World’s Ginnie Graham agreed in her column. A new song and video aim to raise awareness of the state’s uninsured and advocate for accepting federal funds to expand health coverage to low-income Oklahomans. We’d previously invited readers to the song’s launch party.
In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that Gov. Fallin’s choice to abandon her position and sign the repeal of Common Core into law wasn’t much of a surprise. We’ve written previously about how repealing Common Core could put the state’s schools under greater federal control.
In our first Editorial of the Week, the Oklahoman agreed with Blatt’s assessment of dishonesty surrounding lawmakers’ descriptions of the budget: “On budget, Oklahoma lawmakers’ rhetoric, reality don’t add up.“
Quote of the Week
“Sometimes ideological experiments bring unintended outcomes. I think Kansas is seeing that, and it serves as a reminder for the rest of us.”
- Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller, speaking about huge tax cuts in Kansas that have led to plunging revenue and a debt downgrade, while the state’s economic growth is not surpassing neighboring states that didn’t cut taxes (Source: http://bit.ly/1v9S79Y).
Numbers of the Week
- 55.9% – Percentage of Oklahoma inmates who were released directly to the streets with no parole supervision or services in 2012, more than twice the national average (21.5%).
- 90.5% – Estimated percentage of Oklahoma kindergartners in 2012-13 that had vaccinations for measles, mumps, and rubella.
- 75 – West Nile Virus deaths in Oklahoma during 2013, down from 161 deaths in 2012.
- 12.1% – Percentage of Oklahoma borrowers that began repaying federal student loans in FY 2011 and defaulted within two years.
- 806,000 – Outpatient visits to VA facilities in Oklahoma during FY 2009.
What We’re Reading
- Demos discusses some ideas that experts on both the left and right agree could help reduce long-term unemployment.
- The New York Times discuss how access to health care has become divided by state lines in a community on the Arkansas-Texas border. Arkansas is accepting federal funds to expand health coverage while Texas is not.
- A report by In The Public Interest describes how outsourcing public services sets off a downward spiral in which reduced worker wages and benefits can hurt the local economy and overall stability of middle and working class communities.
- A new report from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center shows the uninsured rate in Minnesota has fallen by more than 40 percent since the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion started. Most of the reduction in uninsured is due to an infusion of federal funds for Medicaid, which Oklahoma has refused.
- Kaiser Health News reports on why affordable health care is crucial for women recently released from prison to rebuild their lives.