The Weekly Wonk April 12, 2015

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

We are now accepting applications for our 2015 Summer Policy Institute (SPI)! Oklahoma college students of all levels are encouraged to apply. SPI offers attendees a unique opportunity to become better informed about vital Oklahoma policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders, and prepare for their future studies and work in policy-related fields.

This week on the OK Policy Blog, we explained that unless legislators take action to boost revenues, low-income pregnant women, children, seniors, and disabled Oklahomans who get health care through Medicaid could face huge cuts in next year’s budget. Lawmakers are looking at cuts to Medicaid even as they allow a $150 million tax cut to go forward that mostly benefits the wealthiest Oklahomans. Tulsa Public Schools teacher John Waldron detailed the responses he and other educators received from legislators when they went to the Capitol to make the case for better funding public schools.

We shared a video that illustrates the barriers ex-felons face when trying to rebuild their lives. We previously discussed some of Oklahoma’s barriers to life after prison here. In his weekly Capitol Update, Steve Lewis discussed why Governor Fallin put her former political rival Jari Askins in charge of improving the state’s child welfare system. Court-ordered monitors have previously found the state was falling short in efforts to fix the state’s foster care system. On April 15th at 6:30pm, Oklahoma Assets Network will present “Who Pays More? A Town Hall Forum on Predatory Lending in Oklahoma” at the OU Faculty House. All are welcome to attend.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that ambitious proposals for election reform have been whittled down in the Legislature. In the Tulsa World, Wayne Greene called Blatt’s suggestions for closing the budget gap “interesting and sound.” You can learn more about options for closing the budget gap here. Oklahoma Observer editor Arnold Hamilton cited OK Policy data while discussing  lawmkers’ apparently determination to enact an income tax cut in the middle of a budget emergency. The income tax cut was never intended to take place in these conditions.

Weekly What’s That:

Corporate Income Tax

Oklahoma’s corporate income tax is set at a flat rate of 6 percent of taxable income. The tax is based on a three-part formula that looks at the portions of a company’s sales, property and payroll that is based in Oklahoma. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week:

“And actually there was one company that was looking at one of our cities in Oklahoma and they had all these different cities they were comparing, different states, and they actually said, ‘I chose not to come to Oklahoma because you rank poor in health, and if you have unhealthy workers, and unhealthy people, then my health insurance costs are gonna be higher, plus, people are gonna be taking off work ’cause they’re just not healthy and they won’t be as productive.”

-Governor Mary Fallin, who said her plan to reverse the state’s poor health statistics revolves around telling Oklahomans to take more personal responsibility (Source).

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

Judy Kishner, The Tulsa World

It’s time to stand up and communicate with those who represent us that we need real support for health care, education, and mental health services, just to name a few. Private philanthropy invests millions in our state each year to improve the lives of the disadvantaged, and improve our quality of life.

There is no way philanthropy can take the place of our tax dollars to meet the challenges we face. Our elected officials must make responsible investments of our tax dollars in critical programs to help those most vulnerable. The time is now!

Numbers of the Day:

  • 36% – Oklahoma’s increase in initial claims for unemployment insurance compared to last year.
  • $45,882 – Average wage and salary in 2013 for Canadian County, the highest in Oklahoma. The lowest average wage and salary was $22,688 in Cimarron County.
  • 75.9% – Percentage of Oklahomans ages 25 to 54 who had a job in 2014, down from 77.0% in 2007.
  • 82% – Percentage of Oklahomans who drive to work alone.
  • 73rd – Oklahoma City’s rank among the nation’s 100 largest metros for resident well-being, according to a Gallup survey. Tulsa was ranked 56th.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What we’re Reading:


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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