The Weekly Wonk: August 31, 2012

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week OK Policy called for a more honest discussion about the trade-offs involved in tax and budget decisions. We re-ran a post about some “business-friendly” regulations in Oklahoma that are bad for the rest of us. We announced our upcoming event with Matthew Yglesias and Lauren Zuniga.

OK Policy Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses President Obama’s initiative to allow immigrants brought here as kids to contribute their talents without fear of deportation. David spoke with the Tulsa World about how the Medicaid expansion and other parts of the Affordable Care Act could dramatically reduce the number of uninsured in Oklahoma. NewsOK cited us in an editorial calling for a more open budget process.

Policy Notes

Quotes of the Week

  • If Grandma goes to the hair salon and returns with an unrequested Mohawk, that place will go out of business at a high rate of speed — regardless of government regulations. –The Oklahoman editorial board, arguing that Oklahoma should not require licenses for jobs like barber and cosmetologist.
  • There’s no such thing as totally free health care. Somebody has to pay for that, and the overall health care system works better for everyone if as many people as possible are paying into the system. –Chad Caldwell, executive director of Hospice Circle of Love in Enid, on the temporary high-risk pools established by the Affordable Care Act.
  • The state Rainy Day Fund totals $556 million, yet public schools function at 2008 funding levels and with several thousand more students. It seems disingenuous for state leaders to favor a robust state reserve account and then criticize schools for maintaining a reserve for the same purpose, which is to provide stability of services when funding fails to meet basic obligations. –Norman Schools Superintendent Joe Siano, responding to Rep. Jason Nelson’s claim that schools aren’t suffering financial hardship because they have carryover balances from the previous year
  • Lawmakers have simply approved lump sums to agencies in recent years instead of program-specific line-item appropriations, largely for political reasons. The recession forced spending reductions, but lawmakers didn’t want to take the heat for specific program cuts. So they refused to specify details in legislation. If lawmakers can’t defend their decisions, they don’t deserve re-election. –The Oklahoman editorial board
  • Knowing that you may have more drought or knowing that you may have floods is one thing. But what do you do about it? – Kim Winton, director of the South Central Climate Science Center at the University of Oklahoma. The new center will provide information to resource managers and the public about what changes they can expect to see from climate change and how to plan for them.

Click here for this week’s Numbers of the Day


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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