The Weekly Wonk: A statewide “stay-at-home” order needed; looking ahead at the budget; jail, prisons & COVID-19; and 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.

As our nation confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, OK Policy will be analyzing state and federal policies that impact our state and its residents during this national health emergency. These posts reflect the most current information available at publication, and we will update or publish follow-ups as new information emerges. OK Policy’s pieces on these issues are being collected at

This Week from OK Policy

Weekly What’s That

Revenue Failure

A revenue failure occurs when collections going to the General Revenue Fund fall below 95 percent of the certified estimate (see revenue estimates). The Director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services declares a revenue failure and reduces funds going to agencies by however much is necessary to bring spending into balance with revenue collections. The Oklahoma Constitution specifies that in the event of a revenue failure, each appropriated agency must be cut in equal proportion to their share of total appropriations from the General Revenue Fund.

There have been seven revenue failures since 2000, in budget years 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2016, 2017 and 2018. The budget year 2009 cuts were later restored.

When a revenue failure is declared, the Legislature can use up to 3/8ths of the Rainy Day Fund to prevent budget cuts. The Rainy Day Fund was tapped to address mid-year shortfalls in budget years 2003 and 2010.

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

Quote of the Week

“Now is not a time to be cutting budgets or cutting services. We need to make sure that all the needs are met not only for the current crisis we are in, but also that we stabilize the budget going forward for the next fiscal year.”

-Senate Appropriations and Budget Chairman Roger Thompson, R-Okemah [NonDoc]

Op-Ed of the Week

Arnold Hamilton: Navigating between individual freedom and public safety

Look, I get it. It’s not politically popular in Oklahoma for government to be telling folks what to do. We offer for purchase a “Don’t Tread On Me,” Gadsden flag-styled specialty car tag, after all.

But we also know what is working in this time of pandemic – limiting its spread by sacrificing our regular lives for the common good. A united, World War II-like sense of purpose.

(Gov.) Stitt’s refusal to go all-in on the advice provided by the world’s health experts is in sharp contrast to gutsy state mayors like Tulsa’s G.T. Bynum, Oklahoma City’s David Holt and Norman’s Breea Clark who made the smart, but tough calls to shelter-in-place.

In a New York Times op-ed, Bynum took note of the political blowback, writing, “The public response was swift and intense. Many people thanked me for taking action to save lives in our community. Others compared me to Hitler.”

[Arnold Hamilton / The Journal Record]

Numbers of the Day

  • 40.8% – Share of Oklahoma adults (age 18+) at risk of serious illness if infected with COVID-19.
  • 577,283 – Number of working-age adults (18-64) in Oklahoma at risk of serious illness if infected with COVID-19.
  • 18,400 – The number of Oklahomans that could attempt suicide over the next 12 months under the burdens of stress and depression due to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
  • $1.8 billion – Amount of federal funding that Oklahoma could lose with an undercount during the 2020 Census. Wednesday, April 1, 2020, was the official U.S. Census Day. 
  • 18th – Oklahoma national rank in rate of Coronavirus deaths, with 0.43 deaths per 100,000 residents. Oklahoma ranks 28th in total population.
  • 50 – The number of Oklahoma’s 77 counties with no intensive care unit (ICU) beds. Two of these counties, Creek and Logan, have more than 10,000 residents age 60 and above.
  • 44.2% – Percentage of employees who needed family or medical leave but did not take it because they could not afford unpaid time off. Not being able to afford it was the most common reason given for not taking leave.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Where coronavirus could find a refuge: Native American reservations [Politico]
  • Social Security benefits narrow the wealth gap. But it’s not enough to keep low-wage earners out of poverty in retirement [CNBC]
  • The coronavirus is exacerbating vulnerabilities Native communities already face [Vox]
  • The importance of the 2020 Census, explained in dollars and cents [Project on Government Oversight]
  • The state of the gender pay gap 2020 [PayScale]
  • Coronavirus and poverty: A mother skips meals so her children can eat [New York Times]
  • Latest coronavirus response package doesn’t boost SNAP — the next one should [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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