The Weekly Wonk: Per-pupil funding, the Rainy Day Fund, the end of poverty, and more…

the_weekly_wonkWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly W onk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. 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 from OK Policy

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Policy Director Gene Perry shared a new report showing that Oklahoma’s per-pupil funding has dropped 24.2 percent since 2008, far more than any other state. In a guest post, State Treasurer Ken Miller argued that until the state proves it can live within its means, it needs to stop reducing them. Executive Director David Blatt wrote in his Journal Record column that running out of one-time revenue gimmicks means that new recurring revenues have to be on the table. 

Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed whether expanding the Rainy Day Fund would help Oklahoma’s revenue problems. On the OK PolicyCast, OK Policy staffers talked about ending poverty with Stanford’s Dr. David Grusky. 

OK Policy in the News

The Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise covered a presentation on the state budget Blatt gave to the local Rotary Club. Perry spoke to the Tulsa World about education funding cuts. 

Opportunity Ahoy!

We are now accepting student applicants for paid, part-time internships focusing on research or advocacy during the spring of 2016. Our interns are treated as full members of the OK Policy team. Tasks may include collecting data, conducting research, writing blog posts or reports on state policy issues, strategizing policy goals, coordinating volunteers, and helping to organize events on a wide range of topics. Eligible students should have completed at least four semesters of college coursework or be pursuing a graduate degree. Learn more here.

Weekly What’s That

General Revenue Fund

The General Revenue (GR) Fund is the principal funding source for most Oklahoma government operations. Any revenue that is not restricted for a specific purpose flows into the general fund. The Legislature may direct money out of this fund for any legal purpose of the government. In budget year 2013, the biggest contributors to the General Revenue Fund were personal and corporate income taxes (46 percent) and sales taxes (34 percent). Read more.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“It’s certainly frustrating for us to be falling downward to No. 50. I think what it boils down to is one pretty straight-forward thing: Our state’s refusal to accept federal dollars and expand Medicaid will continue to punish us and cause us to decline in rankings like these.”

-University of Oklahoma-Tulsa President Dr. John Schumann, speaking about new national health rankings in which Oklahoma scored lower than every state except Mississippi and saw a large drop in ranking for health care access and affordability (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Oklahoman

Under a new law, state officials will review Oklahoma’s tax credit programs to determine their efficiency and if they should be altered or even scrapped. Those efforts could benefit from a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The report notes many states have struggled with accurate forecasting of the “cost” of economic development incentives, and many supposedly minor programs turned into budget busters. Worst of all, some breaks didn’t have the intended effect.

Numbers of the Day

  • 21.6% – Percentage of Oklahoma households containing four or more people in 2014
  • 4,397 – Number of professionally active primary care physicians in Oklahoma, about 1 for every 882 Oklahomans
  • 19.9% – Percentage of Oklahoma bachelor’s degree holders whose degree is in education
  • 34.9% – Percentage of Oklahomans age 18-24 enrolled in college or graduate school (31.8% of men, 38.1% of women)
  • $74.24 – Average hourly wage of a petroleum engineer in Oklahoma City in 2014

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Their parents sent them to the United States to escape brutal violence. But to stay, they need to convince courts that sending them here constituted child abuse [The Atlantic].
  • A new study questions the value of universal pre-K. Tell that to working mothers [Slate]. 
  • Gifted and talented programs at most school districts that have them disproportionately feature kids from higher-income families [Vox].
  • For families that rely on them, running out of food stamps before the end of the month can influence hospital admissions, student test scores and even childhood behavior [Washington Post].
  • White Millennials can often rely on their parents for financial assistance. For many black and Hispanic Millennials, it’s the other way around [Washington Monthly].


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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