The Weekly Wonk: Solutions to the budget crisis; declining financial security; Kansas’s cousin; & 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, OK Policy released our five solutions to Oklahoma’s budget emergency. Policy Director Gene Perry wrote that Kansas’s disastrous tax cut experiment has a close cousin in Oklahoma.  At our 2016 State Budget Summit in Oklahoma City on Thursday, Executive Director David Blatt presented “Oklahoma’s Budget Crisis: Charting a Path Forward.” Kansas Center for Economic Growth Executive Director Annie McKay and Senior Fellow Duane Goossen presented “Bad Chemistry: The Failed Kansas Experiment.” In his Journal Record column, Blatt disputed Gov. Fallin’s argument that General Electric’s move to Massachusetts proves cutting taxes leads to economic growth.

Policy Analyst and Oklahoma Assets Network Coordinator DeVon Douglass highlighted new findings that Oklahomans’ financial security has declined and explained that the program known as “welfare” barely exists in Oklahoma. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update noted that Oklahoma is entering a budget crisis with all the easy savings already gone

Upcoming Events

  • In its first 2016 panel discussion in its series “Great Debates: Power, Politics, and People,” Rose State College will host OK Policy’s Gene Perry, Dr. Matt DeSpain and Prof. Craig Dawkins of Rose State College, and Trent England of Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs on February 2nd at 2pm in Room 114 of the Professional Training Center. Those unable to attend will be able to view a livestream here
  • 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

NewsOK and KRMG covered the announcement of two ballot measures put forward by a criminal justice reform coalition including the ACLU of Oklahoma, OK Policy, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and other groups. The Sand Springs Leader and NewsOn6 covered a Sand Springs Public Schools event on education funding where Perry discussed the impact of the state budget crisis. The Norman Transcript and Duncan Banner summarized the State Budget Summit. The Lost Ogle weighed in on an old OK Policy graphic that’s recently gone viral. The original infographic and accompanying blog post are available here.

Weekly What’s That

1017 Fund

The 1017 Fund, or Education Reform Revolving Fund, is a dedicated revenue fund that is appropriated to the State Department of Education. The fund initially consisted of personal and corporate income tax, sales tax, and use tax revenues attributable to the revenue provisions of HB 1017. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Whatever the future may bring, Oklahoma cannot look on itself with pride until provision is made for adequate care of its mentally helpless citizens.”
– National Mental Hospital Survey Committee, in a report that noted that Oklahoma would save money if it invested in its mental health system, in 1937 (Source).

Editorial of the Week

Rabbi Micah and Rabbi Karen Citrin, The Tulsa World

Even as the state faces its significant budget deficit, we cannot allow ourselves to say that we have no choice but to cut education. The fact is that we do have a choice. When the state makes a quarter percent cut in income taxes for those in the top tax rate who need it least, we have made a choice. When we do not pay teachers competitively, the people of this state make a choice. And there are consequences, as Oklahoma lags far behind nearly all states when it comes to quality public education.

Numbers of the Day

  • 10.7% – Percent increase in Oklahoma home prices since April 2006, when the national market peaked. Nationwide home prices have fallen 12.8% since that year.
  • $42,221 – Annual salary before taxes needed as a living wage for a single parent household in Oklahoma.
  • 211 – Number of Oklahoma children confirmed to have dangerously high blood lead levels in 2014.
  • 479 – Hospital emergency room visits per 1,000 people in Oklahoma in 2014, slightly above the national average of 428 and 19th overall.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Nobody knows how many young people are homeless in the United States [Governing].
  • Americans in middle-income households have lost significant ground since 1970 [Pew Research Center].
  • State and local governments have historically provided a pathway to stable, middle-class employment, but the upward mobility once offered by those jobs appears has diminished since the Recession [Governing].
  • People living in suburban and rural areas are more likely to see the inside of a cell than those in urban centers [Washington Post].


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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