The Weekly Wonk: Budget rebuilding continues; how to reduce cancer deaths; & 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

In the final days of session, the Legislature adopted the state’s $7.9 billion budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020 (FY 2020). This week, Senior Tax and Budget Policy Analyst Paul Shinn gave us a deep-dive and described this budget as a second step in what will be a long journey to full recovery for Oklahoma.

Oklahoma has one of the highest cancer death rates in the country, and it has been increasing over the past 10 years — even as the national cancer death rate has steadily declined. Public Policy Intern Daniel Huff explained how expanding access to health coverage could lead to fewer cancer deaths in the state

Oklahoma’s poverty rate is also above the national average (and has been for over a decade), but what’s more problematic is that the current measure of poverty likely underestimates the number of people facing poverty-level hardship. Unfortunately, as Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison points out, a plan proposed by the Trump Administration to adjust the way we measure poverty would make this measure even less accurate.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt commended local and state government agencies for their response to last month’s severe weather outbreak and noted the importance of investing in these agencies. The Enid News & Eagle published Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade’s piece on issues left unresolved by the SQ 780 retroactivity bill, HB 1269.

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we’re featuring Policy Director and bearded dragon owner, Carly Putnam.

OK Policy in the News

Mother Jones cited OK Policy in a story on criminal justice reform during this year’s legislative session.

Weekly What’s That

Legislative Service Bureau, what’s that?

The Oklahoma Legislative Service Bureau (LSB) is a nonpartisan legislative service agency serving the members and staff of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Senate.  The LSB is responsible for producing all computer and information processing services for members and staff of the Oklahoma Legislature. Click here to read more about the Legislative Service Bureau.

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

Chart of the Week

Quote of the Week

“Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 8 requires that judges address people’s inability to pay when they assess and enforce court-imposed fines. Unfortunately, many Oklahoma courts incarcerate people without ever inquiring about their ability to pay. When judges fail to meaningfully inquire into a person’s ability to pay, poor Oklahomans suffer devastating consequences.”

-Tianna Mays and Phylicia Hill, attorneys with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights under Law [The Oklahoman]

Editorial of the Week

Oklahoma’s voodoo boondoggle wasted billions and left us unprepared for economic realities

Oklahoma could have nearly $2.8 billion more to spend on things like schools, colleges and prisons, and the state’s experimentation with supply-side economic voodoo for nearly a decade is a big reason why. Except for the voodoo part, which is my own nuance on the situation, that’s the conclusion of University of Oklahoma economist Robert Dauffenbach. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World].

Numbers of the Day

  • 17% – How much higher median annual earnings were for Oklahomans who completed some college or earned an associate degree compared to those with only a high school degree (2016)
  • 6 – Number of schools in Oklahoma with vaccination rates below 50 percent
  • 17% – The percentage increase in obesity among adults in Oklahoma from 2012 to 2018.
  • 30% – The percentage decline in licensed child care facilities in Oklahoma since 2009

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • How to change policy without politicians. [The Atlantic]
  • How bad prosecutors fuel America’s mass incarceration problem. [Vox]
  • A decade after the recession, 40% of U.S. families are still struggling. [CBS News]
  • Baby steps toward guaranteed incomes and racial justice. [New York Times]


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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