The Weekly Wonk: Affordable housing gap | Felony reclassification | State question process | 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

Oklahoma lawmakers need to close the affordable housing gap: Oklahoma, like the rest of the country, faces a housing crisis. The state’s affordable housing supply isn’t keeping up with Oklahoma’s needs, and the issue is getting worse. To close the affordable housing gap, lawmakers should increase funding for the Oklahoma Affordable Housing Act and find new solutions to grow the stock of affordable housing. Several good bills are on the table this legislative session. House Bill 2040 would increase the state affordable housing tax credit annual cap from $4 million to $10 million, while HB 2870 and HB 2098 would create new programs to support affordable housing development. The affordable housing crisis will require a multi-faceted approach to solve and lawmakers can start that work this session. [Sabine Brown / OK Policy]

Adding penalties to felony reclassification efforts is vital (Capitol Update): Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa, for the second year, is trying to enact a felony criminal reclassification system based on recommendations by the Criminal Justice Reclassification Coordination Council. The proposal is contained in House Bill 1792 by Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond. The bill passed the House, weakened with the title stricken, and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with the enacting clause stricken last week. It now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Policy Matters: Protecting state question process vital for Oklahoma democracy: When elected officials fail to respect the opinions and wishes of its citizens, they undermine the trust in government required to make our democracy work. In recent years, Oklahoma has seen an increased number of legislative attacks on the state’s direct democratic process, most notably to weaken the state question process and create unnecessary barriers to voting. We have seen a number of bills that would multiply the prohibitive state question process, such as increasing the signature threshold for citizen-led petitions or raising the bar needed to approve them once they’re on the ballot. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Upcoming Opportunities

Together Oklahoma Meetings

  • Tuesday, April 18, 6:30 p.m. Thriving Families Affinity Group Meeting (online only). This group focuses on policies that can provide equitable opportunity for all Oklahoma families to thrive. This week we’ll discuss legislation related to affordable housing, school lunches, and other bills moving through the state legislature. [Join the Meeting Online]
  • Wednesday, April 19, 6:00 p.m. Payne County Community Meeting (in-person and online). Join us for a town hall discussion about the policies affecting your region. WorkIT, 901 S Main St. in Stillwater. [Join the Meeting Online]
  • Thursday, April 20, 6:00 p.m. Jackson & Tillman Counties Community Meeting (in-person and online). Join us for a town hall to discuss housing legislation and how it affects you and your community. Western Oklahoma State College, 2801 N Main St, Training Room HLC 127 in Altus. [Join the Meeting Online]

Weekly What’s That

General Appropriations (GA) Bill

The General Appropriations (GA) bill is an annual budget bill approved by the Legislature that funds the ongoing operations of state agencies for the next budget year.

The GA bill has two key features that distinguish it from all other legislation:

Until the early-2000s, the GA bill was typically passed midway through session and continued the current year’s funding for most agencies for the next year. The legislature would then pass funding for new program in separate bills later in session. In more recent years, the GA bill has included almost all funding agreed to as part of the budget agreement reached by the Governor and legislative leaders and is typically filed and voted on in the final days of session.

The General Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2023, SB 1040, appropriated $9.690 billion, a 9.7 percent increase from the $8.831 billion in the FY 2022 GA bill.

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

Quote of the Week

“The work of ending homelessness is not done until every person has a safe and affordable home.” 

-U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, in a statement about Gov. Stitt’s decision to disband the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness. [The Frontier]

Editorial of the Week

Enid News & Eagle Editorial: Time to return to common-sense local control for school districts

Issues being addressed by State Superintendent Ryan Walters and the State Board of Education are a bit confusing for many Oklahomans who, until now, have been used to addressing school issues locally.

Age-appropriate library books, curriculum, personal student issues, etc. always have been the purview of local school districts, which are governed by locally elected representatives. They are the ones most accountable to school patrons.

However, in the last few years — and this year in particular — it seems that state lawmakers and the state education department are wanting to take those issues out of the hands of local districts.

In our view, this is inappropriate and not the way Oklahomans expect their school districts to operate.

The State Department of Education is overseen by the state superintendent of education. The state department’s mission is to ensure each student in Oklahoma has equitable access to a high-quality public education that inspires deep learning and leads to success. The state superintendent — as the CEO — is to oversee the state department and make sure it is meeting its mission.

Primarily after the COVID-19 pandemic created a great number of uncertainties in our education system, it seems lawmakers, the department and its leaders have become more interested in addressing political issues rather than educational issues.

The state department’s role should be to address overall education issues, such as teacher preparedness, teacher pay and availability, reforming school budgets for getting the best outcomes, overall standards of educational excellence, etc. Yet, lawmakers and appointed agency officials are initiating themselves more and more into issues that could most easily be handled by a classroom teacher, the school principal or the district superintendent.

For those issues that cannot be resolved administratively, they are best handled at the local level by locally elected school board members — not at the state level by non-elected state school board members.

The traditional Republican model has always been more local governance rather than overreaching governance by state or national agencies. Yet, that tradition seems to be lost on some state and federal elected officials. In fact, state leaders who in one breath have attacked the big brother of federal government messing with education policy are now themselves wanting to play big brother and mess with local decision making on how local schools are operated.

We believe that even the most contentious issues facing schools now are still best resolved by locally elected school officials and parents and patrons of the local school districts.

It’s time to get back to the traditional common-sense values Oklahoma has operated under when it comes to school governance, and that means backing off the over-zealous and rhetorical policies being reiterated at federal and state levels.

[Editorial / Enid News & Eagle]

Numbers of the Day

  • 39 – The number of affordable and available homes for every 100 extremely low-income Oklahoma households in 2023. [National Low Income Housing Coalition]
  • 81,638 – Estimated shortage of rental homes that are affordable and available for extremely low-income renters in Oklahoma. [NLIHC]
  • 6 in 10 – About 6 in 10 Americans feel that corporations and the wealthy don’t pay their fair share in taxes. [Pew Research Center]
  • $93 – A 0.25% across-the-board cut to Oklahoma’s personal income tax would provide $93 back to the middle 20% of Oklahoma earners, while providing $2,381 to the wealthiest 1%. [ITEP analysis via OK Policy]
  • 12,340 – Number of people who were served by programs in the Oklahoma City area according to recorded data in a Homeless Management Information System (2022). [Homeless Alliance]

What We’re Reading


Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

Leave a Reply

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