The Weekly Wonk: Bail reform successes; falling support for higher ed; accomplishments of the teacher walkout; & 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

This week, bills are still making their way through legislative committees in the opposite chamber before the Thursday, April 11th deadline. Our latest Bill Watch post has an update on key bills we are tracking closely in the areas of criminal justice, education, economic security, and taxes.

Last year, the median jail stay for people in Rogers County accused of nonviolent felonies was 183 days for those who didn’t make bail — that number was only 33 days in Tulsa County. Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade explained why Tulsa County’s success with bail reform signals a need to reform bail across the state.

In 1988, 74.2 percent of the budget for higher education was state appropriated dollars, but in 2019 just 27.2 percent of the budget came from state funding. Education Policy Analyst Rebecca Fine made the case for reinvesting in higher education as a way to boost Oklahoma’s economy

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt reflected on the accomplishments of last year’s teacher walkout. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update noted similarities between Gov. Fallin’s transformation of OMES and Gov. Stitt’s plan for other state agencies. In an Oklahoman op-ed, Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison made a case for restoring Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit.

OK Policy in the News

FOX 25 spoke with Fine about investments needed to make Oklahoma a top 10 state in education. Southwest Oklahoma Field Organizer Jacobi Crowley spoke with KSWO about our upcoming Rally for Coverage at the Capitol on April 24. The Ardmoreite published the second of a two-part series on Together Oklahoma’s forum on criminal justice. Public Radio Tulsa published a recap of The Give & Take forum on health coverage expansion on which Policy Director Carly Putnam was a panelist. CHNI cited OK Policy on the rise of child abuse reports in Oklahoma.

Upcoming Opportunities

2019 Summer Internships at OK Policy: We are currently seeking interns for the summer 2019 semester. This summer we have internship opportunities in two areas: Public Policy Internship and Open Justice Oklahoma Data Internship. Summer internships are paid, and can be full-time or part-time. The deadline to apply is Sunday, April 21st. Click here to learn more and to apply.

We’re hiring a budget and tax analyst: OK Policy is seeking an experienced and effective policy analyst to lead our work advancing equitable and fiscally responsible budget and tax policies that will expand opportunity for all Oklahomans through non-partisan research and analysis. The application deadline for this position is Thursday, April 11, 2019. Click here to view the full job description and to apply.

2019 Summer Policy Institute: The Institute, which will be held August 4th-7th at the University of Tulsa, is open to any undergraduate or graduate student at an Oklahoma college or university, or graduate from an Oklahoma high school, who has completed a minimum of 24 hours of college credit or graduated December 2018 or later. The application deadline is May 27th, 2019. Click here to learn more and to apply.

OK Policy launches search for Executive Director: OK Policy has engaged Switchgear Search and Recruiting to lead the Executive Director search. Applications will be accepted until Friday, April 26th. The position profile and instructions on how to apply can be found at

Hustle for Health Care in Norman: Join Together Oklahoma advocates for a phone banking and texting event to push for health care expansion in Oklahoma. The event will take place on April 8 at 5:30 pm at Interurban. You can RSVP here and see the Facebook event here

Health Care Forum in Oklahoma City: Join Together Oklahoma for a forum to examine the state of health care in Oklahoma and discuss possible policy solutions. The event will take place on April 11 at 6:30 pm at Fairview Missionary Baptist Church. You can RSVP here and see the Facebook event here

Health Care Forum in Norman: Join Together Oklahoma for a forum with state legislators and community leaders on health coverage in Oklahoma. The event will take place on April 14 at 3:00 pm at Norman Public Library Central. You can RSVP here and see the Facebook event here

Rally for Coverage at the Capitol: Join us at the Capitol on April 24th to tell legislators: It’s time to expand health coverage in Oklahoma! You can RSVP and sign up for a ride to OKC here and view the Facebook event here. You can learn more and send a letter to your legislators at

Weekly What’s That

Emergency clause, what’s that?

The emergency clause is a provision included as part of a bill in the Oklahoma  Legislature that allows it to become effective immediately upon the signature of the Governor or at a specified date. Emergency clauses require two-thirds approval by both houses and are voted on separately and subsequently to the vote in favor or against a measure. Click here to read more about the emergency clause.

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

Chart of the Week

Quote of the Week

“I realized in seeking such an extreme sentence for her, I had denied her the opportunity to prove she could grow, change, rehabilitate and show she was worthy of a second chance. I was wrong about her. And current policies that deny children the opportunity to demonstrate that they can be rehabilitated are also wrong, both legally and morally.”

-Rep. Ben Loring, writing about a 17-year-old whom he prosecuted with a life without parole sentence when he was a district attorney [Source: Tulsa World]

Editorial of the Week

Courtney Cullison: Oklahoma lawmakers should restore the earned income tax credit

Want to reduce poverty and help working families get ahead in Oklahoma? Lucky us, we already have a great tool — the earned income tax credit (EITC). In 2000, Oklahoma lawmakers created the state EITC as a partner to the federal EITC with bipartisan support. It was a good idea then and it’s still a good idea. The EITC encourages work by supplementing income from low-wage jobs. Our state tax code already includes many deductions and credits for high-income families and businesses; this credit for low -and middle-income families is an important piece in making Oklahoma’s tax code more fair to all taxpayers. [NewsOK]

Numbers of the Day

  • 27.3% – Percentage of mothers of infants and toddlers in Oklahoma reporting less than optimal mental health.
  • 82% – Share of Oklahoma state legislators who are non-Hispanic white, compared to 67% of Oklahoma’s population that is non-Hispanic white.
  • -82% – Change in new multifamily housing permits issued in Oklahoma in Q4 2018 compared to the previous year.
  • 9th – Oklahoma’s rank for least equitable state tax system in the nation.
  • $2,496 – Average amount less of per pupil funding that high-poverty, nonwhite students receive in Oklahoma compared to high-poverty white students.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Americans are going bankrupt from getting sick. [The Atlantic]
  • Trump plans to end the AIDS epidemic. In places like Mississippi, obstacles are everywhere. [New York Times]
  • Amid safety concerns, should schools invest in metal detectors or mental health? [Stateline]
  • New Arkansas data contradict claims that most who lost Medicaid found jobs. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • Unpacking the power of privileged neighborhoods. [CityLab]


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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