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Today is the final day to purchase tickets for the 2018 State Budget Summit! Get your tickets here.

Meet our new Board members!

by | January 2nd, 2018 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (0)

Oklahoma Policy Institute is excited to announce the appointment of three new members to our Board of Directors – Kara Berst of Ada, Dr. Jason Kirksey of Stillwater, and Erika Lucas of Oklahoma City.

Kara Berst

“Kara, Jason, and Erika are all successful young professionals who will add geographic, occupational, ethnic, and political diversity to OK Policy’s governing body and ensure that the organization continues to expand its scope and impact among key constituencies across Oklahoma,” said current Board chair Ann-Clore Duncan of Edmond. 

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Five reasons to donate today to OK Policy

by | December 27th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

We know there are many worthy organizations and causes reaching out to you this time of year asking for support. Whether you are a first-time donor or long-time supporter, here are 5 reasons to make a tax-deductible donation to Oklahoma Policy Institute today.

1. Facts Matter: On the state policy issues that matter most – from the budget and taxes to health care, poverty, and criminal justice – you know you can always rely on OK Policy to put out reliable, research-driven data and analysis. Resources such as our Online Budget Guide, County Fact Sheets, and Legislative Primer, as well as our daily In The Know, are among the sources of information that you count on every day throughout the year to understand public affairs in Oklahoma. Your donation will help us continue to dig up and publicize the facts.

2. There are Two Sides to Every Debate: When one side controls the legislature and all statewide offices, competing perspectives can easily be overlooked or overwhelmed. Through our issue briefs, blog posts, op-ed columns, and presentations, OK Policy often is the most credible and compelling voice arguing the other side, whether it’s making the case for protecting our revenue base or opposing the expansion of predatory consumer loans. Your donation will ensure that two sides will continue to be heard.

3. 49th is Not OK:  Even though Oklahoma’s economy is improving, about one out of every six Oklahomans, and more than one in five children, continue to live below the federal poverty level. On a whole range of health and social indicators, Oklahoma ranks among the states with the worst outcomes. One of OK Policy’s core convictions is that we need purposeful strategies aimed at expanding opportunities for all Oklahomans. We put forward thoughtful, practical policy proposals that will lead to a more prosperous, healthier, better educated state.  Your support allows us to conduct the research and advocacy that will lead to better policy outcomes.

4. We’re Having an Impact: Not so long ago, OK Policy was a lonely voice sounding the alarm about the state’s structural budget deficit, the underfunding of state services, and the need for new permanent revenues. Today, thanks in part to OK Policy’s steady, effective work, these themes are expressed by  elected officials from both parties and broad swaths of the population. While the state’s onerous supermajority requirement prevented passage of a widely-supported bipartisan revenue package last month, we’ve had some real victories, including repeal of the next scheduled income tax that would have further hampered efforts to bring the budget back into balance. Please donate now to help us continue to make a difference.

5. There’s More Work To Do: The year ahead is going to be an especially crucial one for Oklahoma. We will have the chance to enact long-pursued solutions to address chronic budget shortfalls, make our state tax system fairer, and revisit State Question 640. At the same time, critical medical and food safety net programs serving hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans will be under unprecedented threats from federal and state lawmakers. We need your help to marshal the research and coordinate the advocacy that will ensure real progress is made in 2018.

We hope this is reason enough to convince you to make a one-time or recurring year-end donation to OK Policy  We greatly appreciate your support, and wish you all the best during the holiday season.

Join us for the 2018 State Budget Summit

by | December 12th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Budget, OK Policy | Comments (0)

As Oklahoma’s 2018 legislative session approaches, the state continues to struggle with huge and chronic budget shortfalls and an inability to make the critical investments needed to ensure our prosperity and well-being. We are seeing real and encouraging signs of progress towards the adoption of smarter policies, but obstacles still stand in our way.

OK Policy’s 5th Annual State Budget Summit will bring together Oklahomans with an interest in state policy issues to gain a clearer sense of our challenges and how they can be resolved.  The event will be held January 25th, 2018 at the Downtown/Medical Center Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City. Our special early-bird registration price of just $75 is available through January 12th. The cost as of January 13th is $90

Click here for the full program or, to purchase tickets, click here

The event will include an overview budget presentation by our Executive Director David Blatt, panel discussions involving leading experts on the state budget and criminal justice, and an exciting keynote speaker, Vanessa Williamson, whose talk is titled, “Why Americans Are Proud To Pay Taxes.”

A limited number of partial and full scholarships are available. Click here to apply for a scholarship by January 5th.  Legislators and other elected officials may attend the State Budget Summit free of charge by contacting the OK Policy office (918-794-3944; for a special promo code.

Our keynote speaker, Vanessa Williamson, is a Fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings. She studies the politics of redistribution, with a focus on attitudes about taxation. She is the author of the new book Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes.

Williamson is also the author, with Harvard professor Theda Skocpol, of The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, which was named one of the ten best political books of the year in the New Yorker. She has testified before Congress and written for a variety of outlets including, The Atlantic, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and her hometown newspaper, the Sacramento Bee. Williamson previously served as the Policy Director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She received her Ph.D. in Government and Social Policy from Harvard University. She has a master’s degree from NYU’s Institute of French Studies, and received her B.A. in French language and literature from NYU.

The State Budget Summit offers you a unique opportunity to be better informed on the critical issues facing Oklahoma as we head into the 2018 session. Click here to register now. We look forward to seeing you on January 25th!

We’re Hiring! Applications now open for Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator & Communications Associate positions

by | November 15th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

OK Policy is excited to announce that we are now accepting applications for two full-time positions as an advocacy and outreach coordinator and as a communications associate. We will be accepting applications for both positions until Monday, December 4th and are looking to have the positions filled by late January.

The new advocacy and outreach coordinator will fill the position being vacated by Kara Joy McKee, who is leaving our staff in December. We are seeking an experienced and effective individual to lead our grassroots efforts to bring Oklahomans together in support of a policy agenda that ensures adequate and fair funding of public services and expanded opportunity and economic security for all. The work will involve building and supporting grassroots coalitions in one or more issue areas, as well as conducting public education and mobilization. The main qualification is for someone with fantastic people skills, excellent organizational and project management skills, and demonstrated experience working in, and preferably leading, advocacy campaigns and building and sustaining diverse and effective coalitions.  Click here for the job description, including a list of job duties and responsibilities, qualifications, salary range, and instructions on how to apply.

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We want you to be a spring intern!

by | November 13th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

OK Policy is now accepting student applicants for paid part-time internships during the spring of 2018! Interns have the opportunity to work as full members of the OK Policy team and participate in most activities of the organization.

Research positions are available in our Tulsa office, while a legislative advocacy position is available in our Oklahoma City office. Interns will be expected to work between 10 and 20 hours per week depending on their schedules and availability and are paid $10.50 per hour. 

Eligible students should have completed at least four semesters of college coursework or be pursuing a graduate degree. We are happy to cooperate with an institution’s requirements for academic credit.

To apply, please send a cover letter explaining your interest and qualifications, a resume or CV, and a writing sample to no later than Sunday, November 26. Please include “Spring internship” in the subject line and clearly indicate in application materials whether you are interested in a research internship in the Tulsa office or a legislative advocacy internship in Oklahoma City. 

All applicants will be contacted regarding interviews by December 4.

Join our team as a fall intern

by | August 2nd, 2017 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (0)

OK Policy staff

OK Policy is now accepting student applicants for paid part-time internships during the fall of 2017! Interns will be expected to work between 10 and 20 hours per week, depending on their schedules and availability. The position will be based in our Tulsa office.

Interns have the opportunity to work as full members of the OK Policy team and participate in most activities of the organization. Depending on organization needs and interests, interns will generally focus on either research or advocacy. Interns develop policy expertise and may write blog posts on state policy issues such as poverty, health care, criminal justice, and other subjects.

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A new way to get our action alerts

by | April 26th, 2017 | Posted in Capitol Matters, OK Policy | Comments (0)

Events can move fast in the Oklahoma Legislature, especially in the last weeks of May just before adjournment. New bills or amendments – or even the entire state budget – can be introduced and rushed through before constituents have much chance to speak out.

At OK Policy, we try to provide the information you need when it matters most for our state. We share key facts and advocacy alerts through e-mail, social media, and website updates throughout the week. Now we’re excited to offer another way for you to get informed when it’s important to take action right away. You can sign up to get text message alerts to your mobile phone.

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Meet the new additions to our staff and board

by | March 21st, 2017 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (1)

Courtney Cullison

Oklahoma Policy Institute is pleased to announce the addition of Courtney Cullison to its staff and Susan Chambers, MD to its Board of Directors.

Courtney Cullison has been hired as a policy analyst focusing on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma.

A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve. Courtney can be contacted at

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Start here to be ready for Oklahoma’s 2017 legislative session

by | February 6th, 2017 | Posted in Budget, OK Policy | Comments (1)

Today is the first day of the 2017 legislative session. Governor Mary Fallin will kick things off with her State of the State address in the House chambers beginning at noon. You can follow her speech online here. Governor Fallin will also introduce her FY 2018 budget, which will include her proposals for filling the state’s $740 million budget hole.

Look for OK Policy’s response to the Governor’s budget later today, and later this week, we’ll share our 2017 legislative priorities and revenue options for balancing the budget. Here are even more resources that we think will be helpful for anyone who wants to be well-informed and effectively engaged over the four months of the legislative session:

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Five reasons NOT to donate to OK Policy

by | December 27th, 2016 | Posted in Blog, OK Policy | Comments (0)

At this time of year, lots of terrific organizations are offering you compelling reasons to donate to them. We have developed a contrarian tradition of trying to convince you why you should NOT  donate to OK Policy.  Here are five reasons why you might decide that a donation to OK Policy is a bad idea.

1. Facts don’t matter

Facts, schmacts – who needs ’em?? If you believe that public policy debates and decisions should be guided by party affiliation, ideological beliefs, and ill-informed opinion, please do NOT donate to OK Policy. Because our role is to provide independent, data-driven information, analysis, and ideas on the major policy issues facing Oklahoma. Our legislative primer, county facts,  and budget highlights all provide the facts you’ll want to avoid

2. You really needed that tax cut

Last year, in the midst of two revenue failures and a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, our legislators allowed a quarter-point cut in the top income tax rate to take effect. The tax cut provided less than $4 a month to the average Oklahoma family, while ensuring deeper cuts for public schools, colleges and universities, health care services, and other building blocks of a prosperous state. We know most Oklahomans agreed with us that the tax cut should’ve been cancelled or deferred. But if that tax cut was your idea of good public policy, then you likely should not donate to help OK Policy fight for better fiscal decisions (you can use our online calculator to see how much the tax cut was worth to you).

3. You shouldn’t know how the state budget is spent

OK Policy works to explain the appropriations process, show where state revenues come from and how they are spent, and track budget trends over time, guided by the belief that an informed citizenry is vital to a healthy, functioning democracy. With an ever-shrinking Capitol press corps, many people count on OK Policy to shine a light on what’s happening behind the curtains. But if you prefer to remain in the dark, then making a tax-deductible contribution to OK Policy is most certainly a bad idea.

4. Oklahoma invests too much in education and other core services

Since 2008, Oklahoma has slashed state support for public schools by among the most in the nation and we are falling ever further behind in paying our hard-working teachers and state employees fair and competitive wages. Meanwhile, severe understaffing of our prisons puts the safety of corrections officers at risk and thousands of those with developmental disabilities and mental illness languish on waiting lists. Now we are facing another year of gaping budget shortfalls. Some say we will just need to cut deeper and not look at options that would put more revenue on the table. If you agree, you should not donate to OK Policy.

5. 49th is OK, 50th is Better

In Oklahoma, one in six of us, and one in four children, live in households that earn too little to stay above the poverty line. On a whole range of health and social indicators, Oklahoma ranks among the states with the worst outcomes, leading some to suggest that our state motto should be “Thank God for Mississippi.” One of OK Policy’s core convictions is that we need purposeful strategies aimed at expanding opportunities for all Oklahomans. We put forward thoughtful, practical policy proposals that will lead to a more prosperous, healthier state (you cam see our Agenda for Better Jobs and Opportunities here). But if you think we just need to work harder to outdo Mississippi in the race to the bottom, donating to OK Policy is probably not a good idea.

Kidding aside, we sincerely hope you will make a tax-deductible one-time or recurring year-end donation to OK Policy to help ensure that our work continues to have an impact in 2017. We greatly appreciate your support, and we wish you all the best during this holiday season.

PS: The best way to stay uninformed about the budget crisis facing Oklahoma is to not attend our State Budget Summit on Thursday, January 26th in Oklahoma City. And if you do decide to attend, please wait until after January 5th to buy your tickets so as not to be eligible for our special early-bird registration price of $75!

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