Skip to Content

TAKE ACTION: Submit a comment by Friday to protect SoonerCare for thousands of Oklahoma families

All articles by Courtney Cullison

No family should be punished for accepting help when they need it

The proposed rule change will be available for public comment until December 10. Click here to submit your own public comment.

Bad luck or hard times can hit any of us, and when it happens we should all be able to seek and accept help to meet basic needs while we work to get back on our feet.  But for many Oklahoma families, that assurance of compassion and help may soon disappear. Recently proposed changes to federal immigration rules would make it harder for families to put food on the table, get medical care when they need it, pay for prescription drugs, and find a safe place to live.

The “public charge” test

Anyone seeking to come to the United State, or anyone already here legally seeking to stay here permanently, must demonstrate that they, or someone sponsoring them, can provide for their family so they won’t become dependent on the government. Current immigration rules consider a broad set of factors when considering applicants – age, health status, skills and education, and financial resources are just a few.  Any use of cash assistance programs (like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is also considered a negative factor.

continue reading No family should be punished for accepting help when they need it

2017 Oklahoma Poverty Profile

[Download the 2017 Poverty Profile as a PDF Fact Sheet]

621,076 Oklahomans had incomes below the poverty level in 2017.

That’s 15.8 percent of Oklahoma’s population, or about 1 out of every 6 Oklahomans.

The poverty rate in Oklahoma continues to be above the national average

For more than a decade, Oklahoma’s poverty rate has been higher than the national average, and that didn’t change in 2017.  In fact, the gap between Oklahoma and the nation widened a bit in the most recent years. In 2013, Oklahoma’s poverty rate was 1 percentage point above the national average. Last year, we were 2.4 points above the national average.

continue reading 2017 Oklahoma Poverty Profile

Applications open for Spring interns!

by | October 29th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

**Applications for our 2019 Spring Internships are now closed.**

OK Policy is now accepting student applicants for paid part-time internships during the spring of 2019! Interns have the opportunity to work as full members of the OK Policy team and participate in most activities of the organization.

  • Public Policy Internship (Tulsa office) – Policy interns may be asked to write blog posts on state policy issues, help with data collection and formatting, assist with our advocacy efforts, help to coordinate events, and help with office administration. 
  • Open Justice Oklahoma Data Internship (Tulsa office) – OJO interns are expected to assist in the collection, cleaning, and analysis of criminal justice data, conduct research and write blog posts on criminal justice related issues, and help with office and program administration.
  • Legislative Advocacy Internship (Oklahoma City office) – Advocacy interns work with the Outreach & Legislative Director to advance our policy agenda at the state capitol and with other advocacy organizations, keep records of legislative progress (including meeting notes and vote counts), and help with OK Policy events. 

Interns in all positions will be expected to work between 15 and 20 hours per week depending on their schedules and availability and are paid $11.00 per hour. We are happy to cooperate with your institution’s requirements for academic credit.

Internships are open to both current undergraduate and graduate students (must have completed a minimum of 24 hours of college credit) and to recent grads (Spring 2018 or later). Go here to learn more and to apply. Applications are due no later than 5:00 PM on Friday, November 16th.

New Census data shows that Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate for second consecutive year

Oklahoma lags behind the nation in our efforts to help families get ahead. New data from the Census Bureau shows that poverty in Oklahoma is still above the national average. In 2017, nearly 1 in 6 Oklahomans (15.8 percent) were living with income below the poverty line ($24,600 for a family of four) before taxes.  And though the percentage of Oklahoma families living in poverty is lower than it was last year (16.3 percent), the distance between Oklahoma’s poverty rate and the national rate has widened.

continue reading New Census data shows that Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate for second consecutive year

In The Know: Education funding debate still contentious; Most doctors won’t sign medical marijuana recommendations; Guide to 2018 state questions

by | September 5th, 2018 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

[Time is running out to get tickets for the 10th Anniversary Gala on September 13th.  The deadline to purchase tickets is this Friday, September 7th – get yours today!]

In The News

Education funding remains a contentious debate: Oklahoma’s overall education funding has been front and center in state politics, but discussions regarding how to distribute that funding have been brewing beneath the surface. It is impossible to ignore how hotly debated education funding has become in the state, considering the massive two-week teacher walkout and the fact that it is a premier topic at candidate debates. The mechanism the state uses to distribute the money once it is collected hasn’t been in the spotlight, but that’s not to say officials and candidates aren’t working on it. [Journal Record] SQ 801 would give more flexibility, but no new funds for education [OK Policy]

Fewer teachers coming out of Oklahoma schools: Oklahoma universities graduated 1,275 teacher certification holders in 2018, about a 19 percent decline from 2014, according to the same survey. A similar trend can be found in many other states, but Oklahoma’s shrinking number of traditionally trained teachers comes at the same time the state’s use of emergency certified teachers is on the rise, which reached 1,975 last school year, setting a new state record. [The Oklahoman]

Some Students Fare Poorly after Oklahoma Teacher Walkout: Students statewide and in Oklahoma’s largest district fared poorly on state tests taken this spring following a two-week walkout by teachers. The Oklahoman reports statewide, student proficiency rates dropped among third-graders and seventh-graders from 2017 in English/language arts, and among sixth-graders in math. [AP] OKCPS Superintendent Says District Grades Report “Unacceptable” [News 9]

continue reading In The Know: Education funding debate still contentious; Most doctors won’t sign medical marijuana recommendations; Guide to 2018 state questions

SNAP error rates went up last year, but it wasn’t due to fraud

For many years, anti-hunger advocates have pointed to the low error rates of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as evidence of its efficiency and effectiveness. And that is true – SNAP does have a very low rate of improper payments and it is an effective program that helps millions of American families, including thousands of Oklahomans, put food on the table.

continue reading SNAP error rates went up last year, but it wasn’t due to fraud

Apply now to be an OK Policy paid intern this Fall

by | July 26th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

OK Policy is now accepting applications for paid, part-time internships in our Tulsa office during the Fall 2018 semester! If you’re looking to be part of a team that’s fighting to make Oklahoma better for all Oklahomans, this might be the place for you.

As an OK Policy intern, you may be asked to do things like help with data collection and formatting, write blog posts on state policy issues, assist with our advocacy efforts, help to coordinate events, and help with office administration. Interns work between 15 and 25 hours per week and are paid $11 per hour. We are happy to cooperate with your institution’s requirements for academic credit.

Internships are open to both current undergraduate and graduate students (must have completed a minimum of 24 hours of college credit) and to recent grads (Spring 2018 or later). Go here to learn more and to apply. Applications are due no later than 5:00 PM on Tuesday, August 7th.

Questions? Reach out to Courtney Cullison (clcullison@okpolicy.org) – she’ll be happy to help you!

Bipartisan Senate farm bill is a better way forward for families that struggle with food insecurity

Last month, we shared our concerns about the farm bill proposal being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill proposes deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) that could put 97,000 Oklahomans at risk of going hungry.  While that bill did not pass, 198 members of Congress, including all members of the Oklahoma delegation, did vote for it, and it could still be reconsidered very soon. But there’s good news as well: the Senate has proposed their own version of the farm bill, and it’s much better!

continue reading Bipartisan Senate farm bill is a better way forward for families that struggle with food insecurity

Denying immigrants access to the safety net would have terrible consequences for us all

Most Americans agree that it’s important to have a social safety net.  Bad luck and hard times can hit any of us, and when that happens there should be something there to keep us from falling into destitution while we work to get back on our feet. That’s what the safety net does – it helps people avoid extreme deprivation and produces long-term benefits, especially for children. But recent moves by the Trump administration could create holes in the safety net, allowing many working families to crash straight through.

continue reading Denying immigrants access to the safety net would have terrible consequences for us all

Progress is being made, but there’s still a long way to go in reforming occupational licensing in Oklahoma

by | May 31st, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Financial Security | Comments (3)

We’ve been talking a lot about occupational licensing lately and that’s because it’s a big deal for economic opportunity. Requiring a state license to practice certain occupations began with good intentions –  to protect the public from the harm that can come from someone practicing a profession in an unsafe or incompetent manner.  But today nearly 30 percent of the American workforce needs a license to do their job, and those licenses do not always have a clear connection to public health and safety.  In 21 states, for example, you need a license to be a travel guide.  In Louisiana, you need a license to be a florist

While many occupational licensing requirements have no public safety benefit, the do have clear drawbacks: they restrict entry into many professions by adding expense and imposing restrictions on who can practice the profession.  For too many individuals, onerous requirements push licensed professions out of reach for reasons that have very little (or nothing at all) to do with public health and safety.

continue reading Progress is being made, but there’s still a long way to go in reforming occupational licensing in Oklahoma