The Weekly Wonk: 2019 Summer Policy Institute; restore the EITC for working families; protect payday customer; & more

What’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. This week’s edition was published with contributions from Lindsay Myers, Communications Intern. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week, we launched applications for our annual Summer Policy Institute! The Institute, which will be held in Tulsa from August 4th to 7th at the University of Tulsa, is open to any Oklahoma college student who has completed a minimum of 24 hours of college credit or graduated December 2018 or later.  The deadline to apply is May 27, 2019.

In the midst of a severe budget crisis in 2016, the Oklahoma legislature slashed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-income working families. Now that the state’s budget outlook has improved, Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison explains why restoring this crucial anti-poverty tool is a must. Please visit our new #OKEITC site to write to your legislators and ask them to restore the EITC this session.

Oklahoma has the highest payday loan usage rate in the country. Unfortunately, as Cullison points out, rules to protect payday loan customers are under attack … again. 

With the Rainy Day Fund on track to hit a record balance, Executive Director David Blatt cautioned us against saving ourselves “into the poorhouse” in his weekly Journal Record column. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update notes that the push for agency accountability has produced a mixed bag. 

OK Policy in the News

Open Justice Oklahoma Directory Ryan Gentzler and Blatt spoke with OETA regarding a bipartisan measure to make State Question 780 retroactive. Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade spoke with NewsOKAP News, and FOX25 about the Pardon and Parole Board’s unanimous votes on administrative parole.

The Enid News & Eagle published Education Policy Analyst Rebecca Fine’s piece on a new study that found that despite gains from last year’s teacher walkout, Oklahoma school funding is still significantly below pre-recession levels.

Upcoming Opportunities

Building Stronger Advocates Workshop in McAlester Oklahoma: Join Together Oklahoma advocates this coming Saturday for a workshop on advocacy at the state legislature. Whether you’re new to advocacy or a long-time veteran, this event will give you the tools for successful advocacy at the Capitol. The workshop will take place  Saturday, March 23 at 3 PM in the McAlester Public Library. Visit the Facebook event page for full details

We’re hiring a budget and tax analyst! OK Policy is seeking an experienced and effective policy analyst to lead our work advancing equitable and fiscally responsible budget and tax policies that will expand opportunity for all Oklahomans through non-partisan research and analysis. The application deadline for this position is Thursday, April 11, 2019. Click here to view the full job description and to apply.

2019 Summer Policy Institute: Applications are now open for our 2019 Summer Policy Institute. The Institute, which will be held August 4th – 7th at the University of Tulsa, is open to any undergraduate or graduate student at an Oklahoma college or university, or graduate from an Oklahoma high school, who has completed a minimum of 24 hours of college credit or graduated December 2018 or later. The application deadline is May 27th, 2019. Click here to learn more and to apply

Weekly What’s That

Education Scholarship Tax Credit, What’s That?

Under the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act, individuals and businesses can make a donation to either a scholarship granting organization or an educational improvement grant organization and receive a tax credit of 50 percent for a one-time donation or 75 percent for a two-year donation, along with the standard charitable deduction (read the full definition)

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

Chart of the Week

Quote of the Week

“They’re back in their communities and many have skill sets that could get them good jobs, (so) this would just give them more of a chance. Those who can get good jobs and housing have much less of a chance of going back to prison.”

– Rep. Cyndi Munson (D-OKC), on her bill (HB 2134) to reduce barriers to occupational licenses for people with prior criminal convictions [Source: Journal Record]

Editorial of the Week

The Oklahoman Editorial Board: Oklahoma DOC could use pay raises

Patrolling the inside of those buildings are correctional officers who often are made to work mandatory overtime shifts to maintain a presence of law and order. The ratio of inmates to correctional officers is 87-to-1; according to Bobby Cleveland, head of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, the national average is 10.5 COs per 100 inmates. … A bill being considered this session would add $2 per hour to the starting wage for correctional officers, which stands at $13.74 per hour. Paying for that bump would cost about $8 million. [NewsOK]

Numbers of the Day

  • 393,000 – The number of Oklahomans that are 18+ years of age that do not have a high school diploma or a recognized equivalent.
  • $8.2 million – The amount of nonrefundable bail bond fees paid by defendants accused of nonviolent offenses in FY 2018
  • 27% – Percentage increase in the number of Oklahomans over the age of 65 between 2007 and 2017
  • 825,583 – Number of participants in Oklahoma’s SNAP (food stamps) program in FY 2018
  • 85 – Number of hours a minimum wage worker in Oklahoma has to work each week to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rate

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, she immigrated to Oklahoma with her family at a young age and obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma, a community organization dedicated to advocating and empowering immigrant youth in the state.

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