The Weekly Wonk: A new; dismantling education gains; a message for Governor Stitt; & 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. 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

This week we launched our new website, aimed at improving how readers navigate resources and information. Education Policy Analyst Rebecca Fine outlined historical context to demonstrate how years of inadequate funding have dismantled data-driven education reform in Oklahoma. 

In his weekly Journal Record column, David Blatt sent a message to Governor Stitt: let’s seize the moment and make Oklahoma a state where all workers, families, and children can prosper in a thriving economy. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update warned that the Governor’s push to end agencies boards could inject more politics and ideology into state agency operations. 

OK Policy in the News

Fine spoke with StateImpact Oklahoma about arts cuts and how they deepen pre-existing inequalities that divide students at wealthy and poor schools and widen gaps between rural and urban schools. The Tulsa World cited OK Policy in their editorial outlining a 2019 legislative agenda. OK Policy criminal justice analyst Damion Shade will be speaking on a panel during the Oklahoma Conference of Churches Day at the Legislature on February 25.

Upcoming Opportunities

Don’t miss your LAST CHANCE to attend OK Policy’s 6th Annual State Budget Summit: The last day to register for Oklahoma Policy Institute’s State Budget Summit is WEDNESDAY, January 23rd. OK Policy’s 6th 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 24th, 2019 at the Downtown/Medical Center Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City. Click here to buy your tickets now. To learn more about the State Budget Summit, you can view our event page or our press release

Weekly What’s That

Shell Bill, What’s That?

A shell bill is a bill that is introduced at the beginning of the legislative session with little or no substantive language. Shell bills are intended to serve as a placeholder for legislative proposals to be filled in later. Shell bills will typically include nothing more than a title that describes the section of law being changed or some meaningless wording changes. Click here to read more about shell bills. 

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

Quote of the Week

“As a pediatrician, I fear the ramifications of work requirements on my families. I fear for my patients in rural Oklahoma, where job opportunities are scarce but where more people depend on SoonerCare. I fear for my single mothers who could be forced into suboptimal childcare solutions to try to work more hours. I fear for a father, once the head of the household and now unemployed and unable to work after a massive stroke. And I fear for my pediatric patients with chronic illnesses who may not be disabled but who require constant care from a parent.”

-Edmond pediatrician Savannah Stumph, writing about Oklahoma’s push to terminate SoonerCare coverage for parents who don’t correctly report their work hours. [Source: NewsOK]

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World editorial: Exorbitant court costs incentivizes collections, not justice

Oklahoma’s use of exorbitant court fees and fines is keeping our jails full of people who should be on the street, on the job and working to support their families. In short, our Legislature’s unwillingness to fund the court system properly has turned our jails — which are meant to hold dangerous people and those at risk of fleeing to avoid prosecution — into debtor’s prisons. [Source: Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 61% – Share of Tulsans earning less than $27,000 who say they could not afford health care or medicine in the last 12 months. For all Tulsans, the share was 36%
  • $15,819 – Average salary for teaching aides in Oklahoma public schools.
  • 45% – Percentage increase in the suicide rate in Oklahoma from 2009 to 2016
  • $133 million – Amount of road funding for Oklahoma that has been delayed due to the federal government shutdown
  • 13,000 – Number of extremely poor parents in Oklahoma who could lose their health coverage if the state moves forward with a plan to add new work reporting rules to Medicaid

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • ‘Feel-good’ holiday stories are actually just a symptom of a crumbling society. [Talk Poverty]
  • How one company is making millions off Trump’s war on the poor. [Mother Jones]
  • How rural America is saving itself. [CityLab]
  • To get mental health help for a child, desperate parents relinquish custody. [NPR]
  • States warn food stamp recipients to budget early benefit payments due to shutdown. [Politico]


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.