The Weekly Wonk: Time to tap the Rainy Day Fund, ending debtors’ prisons, & 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

On the OK Policy Blog, Executive Director David Blatt explained why Oklahoma should tap the Rainy Day Fund now to ease mid-year cuts. In his Journal Record column, Blatt praised Sen. Mike Mazzei for calling for the reversal of a recent income tax cut. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler highlighted legislation that could put a stop to debtors’ prisons in Oklahoma. 

Legislative Liaison Damario Solomon-Simmons wrote that Black history is Oklahoma history. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis examined why the big business attempt to “opt-out” of worker’s compensation was found unconstitutional. A post in our Neglected Oklahoma series discussed the impact of Sayre, Oklahoma losing its hospital. Blatt argued that fantasy sports bills could put gaming revenues at risk

OK Policy in the News

The OU Daily covered the development of a new branch of the Roosevelt Institute, a national, nonpartisan think tank on campuses across the country, at OU. OK Policy and other organizations will assist in training members. NonDoc cited OK Policy data in a discussion of legislation that passed through the House this week.

Weekly What’s That

Revenue failure

A revenue failure occurs when collections going to the General Revenue Fund fall below 95 percent of the certified estimate (see revenue estimates). The Director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services declares a revenue failure and reduces funds going to agencies by however much is necessary to bring spending into balance with revenue collections. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Are we going to kick 111,000 people off healthcare or are we going to be brave, because I think that’s about all this amounts to. Are we going to be brave enough to stand up for the least among us or are we going to give in to the people that control this building? What in the world are we doing?”

– Rep. James Lockhart (D-Heavener), speaking on the House floor against HB 2665, which would remove Medicaid eligibility for the very low-income parents of dependent children in an attempt to generate savings in the state budget. The bill passed the House 65-34 (Source). 

Editorial of the Week

Sen. Mike Mazzei (R-Tulsa), NewsOK

If you think we can write a balanced budget and avoid any cuts to our schools, health care or public safety by cutting other agencies and services, think again. If you remove all the agencies that deal with core services and then eliminated everything else altogether, you’d only close the budget gap by about $500 million — less than half of the shortfall. That means education, which gets about half of the budget, could face a budget cut of $400 million. Other core services would be cut as well. And when all is said and done, every man, woman and child in the state will be negatively affected.

Numbers of the Day

  • 25% – Percentage of Oklahomans younger than 18 years who lived at or below the poverty threshold in Oklahoma in 2015.
  • 697 million – Pounds of cow milk produced on Oklahoma farms in 2014 
  • 7.1 – Number of infant deaths before age 1 per 1,000 live births in Oklahoma, 10th highest in the nation.
  • 18.5% – Percentage of Oklahoma high school students who self-report smoking cigarettes on at least 1 day during the past 30 days in 2015
  • 3,867 – Number of road lanes miles in critical or inadequate condition in Oklahoma in 2014

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Mental illness cases swamp criminal justice system [USA Today].
  • Why poverty may be more relevant than race for childhood obesity [NPR].
  • While homeless veterans get housing, rest are left in the cold [GOVERNING].
  • A college degree is worth less if you are raised poor [Brookings].
  • Savings accounts dedicated to paying for college can help take the sting out of increasing tuition costs and encourage the habit of saving [National Conference of State Legislatures].


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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