The Weekly Wonk: A threat to health care for parents and caretakers; a strong message to legislators

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 the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority released a draft of their Medicaid waiver proposal, and Policy Director Carly Putnam laid out why this waiver proposal is a threat to health care for thousands of Oklahoma parents and caretakers. OK Policy released a statement saying the waiver proposal is severely flawed and called on OHCA to withdraw it. You can use this form to speak out about the proposal.

Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update noted that more people voted during last month’s primaries, and it mattered. David Blatt’s Journal Record column pointed out that Oklahoman voters had a strong and clear message for their legislators.

OK Policy in the News

Strategy and Communications Director Gene Perry was quoted about Oklahoma’s low ranking in the 2018 KIDS COUNT Data Book in a Tulsa World Editorial, Ben Felder’s Morning Bell, and Dale Denwalt’s Capitol Boxscore. The Enid News & Eagle published Perry’s column on why Oklahoma ranks near worst in the nation for child well-being.

Blatt spoke with Playboy and The Nation about the impact of the teacher’s movement on Oklahoma’s elections.

Upcoming Opportunities

Join us and Magic City Books to host award-winning scholar Kendra Field: Following the lead of her own ancestors, Kendra Field’s epic family history chronicles the westward migration of freedom’s first generation in the fifty years after emancipation. Drawing on decades of archival research and family lore within and beyond the United States, Field traces their journey out of the South to Indian Territory, where they participated in the development of black and black Indian towns and settlements. Kendra will be in conversation with local author and attorney, Hannibal Johnson, Wednesday, August 1 at 7 PM. Find all the details on the Facebook event page

Weekly What’s That

Oklahoma Health Care Authority, What’s That?

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is a state government agency responsible for administering the state’s Medicaid program. OHCA’s mission is to “responsibly purchase state and federally-funded health care in the most efficient and comprehensive manner possible; to analyze and recommend strategies for optimizing the accessibility and quality of health care; and, to cultivate relationships to improve the health outcomes of Oklahomans.”

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

Quote of the Week

“The truth of the matter is that, one of the reasons that our [state] budget is so tight is that we spend a disproportionately large amount of our tax revenue on locking up our fellow citizens.”

-John Carl, a professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Oklahoma [KGOU]

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World editorial: Your state taxes go up on Sunday, and that’s good

With the tax hike pending, we haven’t seen any flight of oil companies from the state. Why? Because what we’ve said for years is true: So long as it isn’t confiscatory, the state petroleum tax is insignificant in the decisions of companies to drill and produce. Geology and market prices dominate those decisions, and will whether the gross production tax is 2, 4, 5 or 7 percent. Politicians are terrified of tax increases, and that is probably healthy in general. But in Oklahoma, the mania for reducing taxes severely undercut funding for core public services. The July 1 tax increases weren’t the ideal package and they shouldn’t be the final word on the subject, but they’re a sign of progress in Oklahoma, when we needed one badly [Tulsa World].

Numbers of the Day

  • $3.04 billion – Value of Oklahoma imports from Canada in 2017, 31.3% of all foreign imports to the state and more than any other country.
  • 851,658 – Number of Oklahomans who voted in the June 2018 gubernatorial primary, which was nearly 27,000 more than the number who voted in the November 2014 general election.
  • 0.79% – Oklahoma’s compound annual population growth rate from 2007 to 2017, the 23rd highest out of all 50 states.
  • 42% – Share of uninsured Oklahomans identifying as white, non-Hispanic in 2016. People who are white and non-Hispanic made up 64 percent of Oklahoma’s population that year.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • To make ends meet, 1 in 5 teachers have second jobs [Education Week].
  • Maine tried a new way of voting. Will other states follow? [RouteFifty].
  • Why the middle class can’t afford life in America anymore [NY Post].
  • Implications of a Medicaid work requirement: National estimates of potential coverage losses [Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation].


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.

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