The Weekly Wonk: Budget-only sessions, ending HIV/AIDS, school choice, and more…

the_weekly_wonkWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly W onk 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.

The Weekly Wonk took a break last weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday, so today’s edition contains updates from the previous two weeks. 

This Week from OK Policy

On the OK Policy Blog, Executive Director David Blatt wondered if budget-only sessions would cause more problems than they solved. In his Journal Record column, Blatt wrote about the importance of protecting the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET). For World AIDS Day, Tulsa CARES Executive Director Shannon Hall explained how ending stigma can stop HIV/AIDS.

Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed whether Oklahomans want school choice and argued that suggested four-day schools weeks are a result of unwillingness to fund public schools. A new fact sheet highlights hunger in Oklahoma, while a post in our Neglected Oklahoma series shared the story of a son’s struggle with his father’s insecurity

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to Oklahoma Watch about the difficulty in dislodging sales tax breaks. The Oklahoman cited OK Policy’s fact sheet on hunger in Oklahoma

Weekly What’s That

Earned-Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit that subsidizes work for low-income families. More than 26 million households will receive a total of $60 billion in reduced taxes and refunds in 2015, according to the Tax Policy Center, making the EITC the nation’s largest cash or near cash assistance program after the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). In 2012, the credit lifted 6.5 million people out of poverty, including over 3 million children, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Common sense dictates that until the state proves it can live within its means, it really should stop reducing them, yet some ‘thinkers’ continue to advocate eliminating the state income tax – even arguing that the state’s largest funding source can be vanished without a replacement and still fund needed teacher pay raises. This contention would be laughable if not so devastatingly irresponsible – considering current funding status of core services. But rather than rebuke this nonsense, many in positions of responsibility actually enable it through their silence or rhetoric”

– State Treasurer Ken Miller (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Arnold Hamilton, The Journal Record

When the 2016 legislative session ends in May, the future of Oklahoma public education will be much clearer.

Students will have endured another year with amateur instructors – “emergency replacements” – in far too many classrooms. Districts likely will be scrambling yet again to sustain schools with state budget crumbs. And even more professional educators almost certainly will be fleeing for better pay and working conditions in surrounding states.

Is this the future Oklahomans want for their children and grandchildren? Isn’t it an article of faith that we owe them the best possible education? That it’s the key to their future? And Oklahoma’s?

Numbers of the Day

  • 19 – Number of Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in Oklahoma
  • 54% – Graduation success rate of Oklahoma State University football players (defined as earning a degree within 6 years of entering school). The graduation success rate of University of Oklahoma football players was 65 percent.
  • 2,038 – Number of professionally active dentists in Oklahoma in October 2015
  • 32.4% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s foreign-born population who were naturalized citizens in 2014
  • 242,990 – Number of Oklahoma children who experienced food insecurity in 2013.
  • 38,000 – Estimated number of Oklahoma veteran and military households who received the Earned Income Tax Credit or low-income component of the Child Tax Credit in 2014.
  • 12,440 – Acres of organic crops in Oklahoma in 2011, up from 2,136 acres in 2000.
  • See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • How’s Texas is  learning to like Obamacare [Kaiser Health News / Governing].
  • Food insecurity is linked to numerous bad health outcomes [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]. 
  • Most of what you learned in Econ 101 is wrong  [BloombergView]. 
  • Serving time in overcrowded prisons increases the likelihood that ex-cons will reoffend [Slate].
  • Kansas’ economic growth continues to lag, despite tax cuts [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]. 
  • Few ideas are as deeply ingrained as the belief that government aid corrupts the poor. And yet to a significant degree, it’s wrong [New York Times].
  • Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing? [New Yorker]



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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