The Weekly Wonk: March 3, 2013

the_weekly_wonkThe Sunday Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage.  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 Oklahoma Policy Institute released a report (with CAP Tulsa) on the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA), a new state law that holds back 3rd grade students who can’t pass a reading test starting in 2014.  The report was covered in a Tulsa World article on the need for more funding and better planning to improve reading achievement in light of the looming requirement.  Our work was also cited this week in a NewsOK editorial about unfunded education mandates.

We posted about a slew of bills quickly making their way through the legislature that target safety net assistance to Oklahoma’s poorest families.  Policy analyst Kate Richey was quoted in Associated Press and KJRH articles covering the legislation.  Oklahoma Policy Institute will host two informational webinars about these bills: click here for the call Monday March 4th at 2:30pm or click here for the call Tuesday March 5th at 10:30am. 

Kaiser_federalstate1The OKPolicy Blog pointed out that Governor Fallin’s tax cut would cost the state more than twice as much as expanding Medicaid.  David Blatt’s Journal Record column reflected on GOP governors and strong conservatives who expanded Medicaid because it was the right thing to do, both fiscally and morally.  

sad-baby-150x150We also blogged about the dangers of cherry-picking facts; since private insurance costs have actually risen faster than Medicaid costs, scapegoating Medicaid is misguided.  Paul Shinn guest blogged about a legislative attempt to defund home-visiting programs for expectant mothers and young children, which are proven to reduce child abuse and improve child development.

Policy Notes

Numbers of the Day

  • $31 million – Amount Oklahoma would need to fund the Reading Sufficiency Act’s ban on social promotion at equivalent levels to Florida.
  • 6.7 percent – Percentage of the total population enrolled in HMOs in Oklahoma, compared to 22.5% nationally in 2011
  • 43.8 percent – Percentage of Oklahoma households without enough cash, savings or liquid assets to subsist at the poverty level for three months in the absence of income, like job loss or sudden inability to work
  • 1/2 of 1 percent – Percentage of people on SNAP (or food stamps) in Oklahoma who were found ineligible for the program due to inaccurate information on their application, 3,465 out of nearly 615,000 Oklahomans in 2011
  • 173,400 – Number of Oklahoma families that will lose health and nutrition assistance through maternal and infant programs if across-the-board federal budget cuts (or ‘sequestration’) aren’t averted by Congress



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