The Weekly Wonk: Bills we’re watching; addressing racial disparities; federal funding we can count on; & 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 we published two more posts in our Bill Watch series. First, Education Policy Analyst Rebecca Fine gave us an overview of bills that could have a significant impact on Oklahoma schools. Then, Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison highlighted the many opportunities legislators have to make Oklahomans better off economically

In his weekly Journal Record, Executive Director David Blatt noted that this legislative session offers good opportunities to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed how new legislators are taking on overlooked problems. An op-ed by Policy Director Carly Putnam in The Oklahoman explained why federal support for health coverage expansion is a funding promise we can count on.

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Carly Putnam spoke with NewsOK and the Associated Press about a bill that expands health coverage to low-income Oklahomans. Putnam was also in Ben Felder’s Capital City newsletter. Blatt spoke to the Tulsa World and CHNI about the same bill. Blatt also spoke with The Journal Record about how Oklahoma’s minimum wage compares to surrounding states. KTEN covered a Together Oklahoma event in Ardmore where Blatt gave residents a legislative update. The Norman Transcript previewed Together Oklahoma’s upcoming forum on criminal justice reform.

The Tulsa Word Editorial Board cited OK Policy data on the high usage rate of payday loans in Oklahoma. In her Tulsa World column, Ginnie Graham cited OK Policy data on the drop in parole numbers over the last decade. The blog Scary Mommy cited OK Policy data on the cuts in fine arts education in Oklahoma due to shrinking budgets.

Upcoming Opportunities

Mental Health Policy Fellowship applications close this week: Applications for our Oklahoma Mental Health Policy Fellowship close this Friday, March 1st. Over the course of a two-year, full-time fellowship, fellows will acquire the knowledge and skills to be expert advocates for mental health policy reforms in the public and private sectors. Click here to learn more

Criminal Justice Forum in Norman: Join Together Oklahoma advocates in Norman for a forum on Criminal Justice. Panelists include Damion Shade, Oklahoma Policy Institute Criminal Justice Policy Analyst, Kris Steele, Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, Nicole McAfee, ACLU Smart Justice Campaign Manager, Andrew Speno, Right On Crime, and Todd Gibson, Cleveland County Sheriff. The event is this Thursday, February 28, and it is co-organized by Together Oklahoma, the League of Women Voters, and Women in Action for All. Visit the Facebook event page for more details

Weekly What’s That

Revenue Estimate, What’s That?

Oklahoma makes official revenue estimates that determine how much the Legislature is allowed to appropriate in its annual budget for state agencies. The Legislature is limited to appropriating no more than 95 percent of certified collections. Revenue estimates are certified three times each year: late December, Febrary, and June. Click here to read more about Revenue Certification/Revenue Estimates

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

Quote of the Week

“Overwhelmingly on public education advocates’ chat boards, Facebook pages, I’m seeing time and again that they prefer classroom funding over the teacher pay, and I’m hearing that in my one-on-one meetings. So that’s not to say people still don’t want to see more money going to their paycheck. But I think if they have their druthers, it goes to the classroom, from the feedback I’m hearing.”

-Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat [Source: NonDoc]

Editorial of the Week

A funding promise we can count on

This year, legislators have an opportunity to address a critical need in Oklahoma by accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid. Oklahoma’s uninsured rate is the second-highest in the United States — surely not a category in which we want to be a top 10 state. This leaves hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans unable to see a doctor or fill a prescription, and puts hospitals and other care providers at risk across the state. [Source: Carly Putnam/NewsOK].

Numbers of the Day

  • 73% – Percentage of Oklahoma prison inmates assessed with a need for substance abuse treatment who did not receive it in Fiscal Year 2018
  • 75.3% – Median weekly earnings of female full-time workers in Oklahoma as a percentage of male full-time workers’ median earnings (2018)
  • 43,840 – The total number of approved medical marijuana patient licenses as of February 11, 2019
  • 57.5 years – Life Expectancy for Oklahomans with an untreated mental illness
  • 2.6% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s population age 1 year and over who moved here from a different state

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Progressive revenue-raising options. [ITEP]
  • 13 million people in poverty are disconnected from the social safety net. Most of them are white. [Washington Post]
  • Social Security proposal could strip benefits from thousands of non-English speakers. [Splinter News]
  • Working to make ends meet during good economic times. [Urban Institute]
  • Don’t put work-requirements on Medicaid. [Economist]


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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