The Weekly Wonk: Access to child care, the link between health and inequality, and more…

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk 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, Research Fellow Candace Smith argued that Oklahoma needs to reduce inequality to achieve better health. Inequality in Oklahoma is at an all-time high. A post in our Neglected Oklahoma series compared the public school experiences of two Oklahoma City children who live just a mile apart. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam found that child care is getting less accessible for working parents. 

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis wondered about the future of juvenile justice improvements following the resignation of the office’s director. Executive Director David Blatt wrote in his Journal Record column that the state Supreme Court made the right decision in allowing an initiative petition aimed at increasing education funding to proceed. OK Policy’s statement on the proposed initiative is here. Our Budget Trends & Outlook fact sheet summarizes the budget situation in 14 bullet points and four charts. 

Upcoming Events

  • Tickets to our 2016 State Budget Summit have sold out, but we’ll be live-tweeting the event! Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #okbudget16.
  • OK Policy, The Community Service Council, Metropolitan Human Services Commission in Tulsa, and Tulsa Community College will host State Treasurer Ken Miller on Friday, February 19, from 12pm to 1:30pm for “Up Close – Oklahoma’s Budget Crisis.” The event is free and lunch will be provided, but space is limited! Click here to register. For more information, contact Dan Arthrell ( 

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to KGOU about the education funding ballot initiative. Oklahoma Watch quoted Policy Director Gene Perry in an article on a sales tax break issue. The Tulsa World cited OK Policy in coverage of calls for delaying a recent tax cut. Perry was also quoted in The Norman Transcript regarding a bill that would reform civil asset forfeiture. OK Policy is part of a coalition of unlikely allies pushing for civil asset forfeiture reform.

The Purcell Register cited OK Policy in coverage of education funding issues. The OU Daily’s Editorial Board cited OK Policy while announcing two topics for daily editorials this semester. The Journal Record announced that we hired Ryan Gentzler as a policy analyst focusing on criminal justice (you can learn more about Ryan here). A graphic OK Policy put together several years ago showing that tax breaks for horizontal drilling have increased by about the same amount that school aid funding has been slashed is having a renaissance on Facebook. 

Weekly What’s That


Woolly-booger (or woolly-bugger) is a colloquialism used in Oklahoma and Louisiana politics referring to a provision snuck into legislation, usually in the waning hours or days of session, that is likely to be overlooked. A lobbyist might be overheard saying, “We need to keep an eye out on that deal, we don’t want them to go adding in any woolly-boogers.” Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Given the financial stress the state faces, we should consider a number of financial management options, one of which is a delay in the reduction from 5.25 to 5 percent in the top tax rate.”

– Senate Finance Chair Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, who has filed a bill to void Oklahoma’s 2016 tax cut in a fiscal year in which a revenue failure has been declared (Source).

Editorial of the Week

Dennis Neil, The Tulsa World

If our leaders would gather the leading site advisers for a candid discussion and let them rank what would make Oklahoma truly attractive for the likes of the GE headquarters and our existing businesses, lower taxes would not be on the list but our under-investment would be a significant red flag.

Current Oklahoma policies and the level of state investment is moving in the opposite direction of the states that in the long-run are going to win out in attracting a highly paid, educated workforce.

Numbers of the Day

  • -19% – Percent change in Oklahoma’s teen birth rate, 2011-2014, from 47.8 to 38.5 births per 1,000 women age 15-19.
  • 7.4% – Percentage of Oklahoma veterans who are female.
  • 69% – Percentage of Oklahomans who lived in metropolitan areas in 2013.
  • 60% – Percentage of Oklahoma workers who have access to a workplace retirement plan (29th out of all 50 states).

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Treatment courts can reduce crime, so why aren’t they more widespread? [The Atlantic]
  • Nearly half of U.S. children now have at least one parent with a criminal record. And having even a minor criminal record can be a life sentence to poverty, presenting obstacles to employment, housing, education and training, public assistance, financial empowerment, and more [Center for American Progress].
  • When the poor are forced into the suburbs, getting to work becomes a huge challenge [Washington Post].
  • There’s very little evidence that workplace drug testing is beneficial. So why do we do it?  [Slate]


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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