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

In this week’s episode of the OKPolicyCast, we spoke with Executive Director David Blatt and Policy Director Carly Putnam about the five state questions on the ballot. In his weekly Journal Record column, Blatt explained State Question 800 in more detail.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke with the Florida Phoenix about the impact of State Question 640 on the Oklahoma legislature. 

Upcoming Opportunities

Legislative Candidate Forum in Lawton: TogetherOK and Oklahoma Watch are teaming up for a legislative candidate forum in Lawton this Tuesday, October 9. The forum will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the McMahon Centennial Complex. Oklahoma Watch Executive Editor David Fritze will moderate the discussion, and audience questions will be allowed. For more information, visit the Facebook event page

What the Heck am I Voting On? If you are feeling overwhelmed by all of the items on your ballot, join TogetherOK Tulsa this Tuesday, October 9 for an overview of elected offices and State Questions. The event will be held from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Rudisill Regional Library. Speakers include Marq Lewis of We the People, Nick Singer of ACLU Oklahoma and Smart Justice Campaign, Janice Goetziner of ACTION, Alicia Andrews, and Rusty Rowe. For the full details, visit the Facebook event page.

Weekly What’s That

Ad Valorem Exemptions, What’s That?

Oklahoma provides partial or full exemptions from ad valorem taxes for various categories of homeowners.

  • All homesteads (a person’s primary residence) are exempted $1,000 of the assessed value.
  • Households with gross income under $20,000 are entitled to an additional $1,000 homestead exemption.
  • Property values are frozen for seniors whose income is at or below the median of their county or metropolitan area.
  • Seniors with income below $12,000 may claim a credit against income tax in the amount that their property tax exceeds 1 percent of total income, up to $200.
  • Seniors with income under $10,000 who reside in manufactured homes are allowed a $2,000 exemption.
  • An honorably discharged veteran who is 100 percent disabled, or a surviving spouse of a veteran killed while in active duty, is fully exempted from ad valorem taxes for his or her homestead.

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

Quote of the Week

“If half of us vote in November, politicians will sit up and take notice, because even the most entrenched insiders fear losing elections. We want our state’s leaders to fear our voting power because they won’t consider us if they don’t.”

-University of Oklahoma student Ben White, writing about why young Oklahomans should vote [NonDoc]

Editorial of the Week

Ben White: Young people, make government what you want: Vote

Holding the government accountable for your future in this state won’t work if only one more person votes this November, nor will a resounding voter turnout among young people change Oklahoma overnight. Maybe our demographic will fail to affect who wins in any given election, but the state will change gradually if politicians start accounting for strong, young voter turnout as they run in our state.

Numbers of the Day

  • 40.2% – Poverty rate for Black children in Oklahoma, nearly double the statewide child poverty rate (21.5%).
  • 8th – Oklahoma’s national ranking for greatest number of instructional days lost due to out-of-school suspension for black students in 2015-2016, at 93 days of instruction lost per 100 students.
  • 79% – Percentage increase in general fund spending on Oklahoma corrections since 1987
  • 11.8% – Chronic absence rate for Oklahoma students in the 2015-16 school year, below the national average of 15.5%.
  • -37.3% – How much Oklahoma’s per-student state funding for higher education decreased from 2008 to 2018, after inflation, the 4th largest cuts in the U.S.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading