The Weekly Wonk April 26, 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.

This week, we explained what critics of our poll showing that most Oklahomans don’t want a tax cut got wrong. Most Oklahomans say the state has cut the state income tax too much or just the right amount, and that Oklahoma is not spending enough on education funding. Click here to tell your legislators you agree. We are collecting signatures from business owners and directors of organizations for a letter to leadership urging them to halt the tax cut here. On the TogetherOK Blog, outreach specialist Kara Joy McKee celebrates some legislative wins and asks for your help to stop the tax cut.

We noted that unless the Legislature makes last year’s reforms permanent, Oklahoma will go back to automatically retaining all third graders who don’t pass a high-stakes reading test. As we’ve noted, the Legislature has invested only modestly in reading intervention programs, and most students who would be retained have special needs or are learning English as a second language. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis discussed what deadlines at the Legislature can mean for controversial bills. In a guest post, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Sierra Club argued against legislation that would ban cities and municipalities from being able to regulate oil and gas production.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt pointed out that enthusiastic praise of great quality of life in Tulsa and Oklahoma City only apply to relatively prosperous residents. Blatt was featured in a KJRH piece on the controversy around the incoming income tax cut. Policy analyst Carly Putnam was quoted in a Journal Record column on the Legislature’s failure to take action to expand health coverage to the uninsured during this legislative session. The Tax Justice Blog picked up our poll showing that Oklahomans don’t want a tax cut.

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Weekly What’s That:

Administrative rules

State agencies can make rules to implement laws under procedures set out in the Administrative Procedures Act (75 OS 250). Administrative rules have the effect of law. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week:

“One thing I’ve learned here in Oklahoma is: If you need a bed in a jail cell, there’s always one available. But you can’t get a treatment bed just because you need one today.”

– A Mental Health Association of Oklahoma (MHAO) staff member, speaking to his colleagues on his first day back to work following substance abuse treatment, as related by MHAO Executive Director Mike Brose (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

Adam Luck, Oklahoma director for Right on Crime, in The Oklahoman

Our already overcrowded prison system is now at 111.36 percent capacity, meaning we’re housing over 2,100 inmates beyond the “operating capacity” of our prisons, which includes temporary beds placed in dayrooms and common areas. The situation is even more urgent when we consider that our prison facilities are now holding significantly more inmates than their “rated design capacity” or the number of inmates the facility was originally designed and built to safely house. We must acknowledge the impact of our growing prison population and recognize the urgent need for change.

Numbers of the Day:

  • 23% – the percentage of the state population potentially exposed to water exceeding a contaminant limit in 2013-2014.
  • $1,049 – Average stock dividend income claimed on Oklahoma tax returns in 2013, 6th lowest in the U.S.
  • 49.6% – Percent of the population of Cherokee County who identified as white and non-Hispanic in 2013, down from 55.2 percent in 2000. Cherokee County was one of two Oklahoma counties that became majority non-white since 2000.
  • 63% – Percentage of Oklahoma residents who said they had a great deal or a fair amount of trust in state government when it comes to handling state problems.
  • 8.6 miles – Typical commute for Oklahoma City metro residents. The typical commute for the Tulsa metro is 8.0 miles.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

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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