The Weekly Wonk: Budgets should reflect community values; building a new momentum

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

Policy Matters: Budgets should reflect community values: Recent protests in our state and around the nation have prompted difficult conversations with our colleagues, friends, and families about racism. As part of this dialogue, citizens are calling for their communities to reconsider existing approaches to law enforcement in order to address racial inequities. In turn, this is prompting a closer examination of how community values are reflected when expending taxpayer dollars. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Capitol Update: Building a new momentum: What comes to mind, though, are the words we have been hearing from across the country the past few days: “We’re tired of being tired.” The words reflect longstanding disappointment and anger, mixed with hope that someone will step forward to help carry the burden. Unfortunately, when the economy turns downward those already suffering, especially due to circumstance of birth, suffer the most. Whether the momentum we seemed to have before the pandemic would have brought them along, we do not know. But things have changed, and a new momentum could carry us farther. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

SoonerCare 2.0 Federal Comment Period Now Open

The federal agency that oversees Medicaid is now accepting public comments through June 27 about the Governor’s health care proposal that he has been calling SoonerCare 2.0. Comments can be submitted through the website. 

Weekly What’s That

Federal Poverty Level

The federal poverty level (FPL) is a measure of income issued annually by the Department of Health and Human Services that is used to determine eligibility for various public programs and benefits, including Medicaid, health insurance premium tax credits, the free- and reduced- school lunch program, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and many others.

The federal poverty level, which takes into account family size, is $12,490 for a single individual and $25,750 for a family of four in 2019. There are separate, higher levels for residents of Alaska and Hawaii.

The federal poverty level was first established in 1965 and was set at three times the cost of a basic food plan. The level is adjusted annually for inflation. It is widely accepted that the federal poverty level does not accurately reflect the amount of income needed to meet one’s basic needs.

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

Quote of the Week

“For years, the Black Caucus collectively has created bills related to law enforcement reform only to meet disregard and rejection from leadership… Beyond conversation, we need good legislation to be implemented.” 

-State Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa [CNHI]

Editorial of the Week

OUR VIEW: Yes on State Question 802

An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, that old chestnut, that’s how we look at Medicaid expansion. If more people can get preventative care, fewer people will need catastrophic care.

People who can’t afford basic medical care, definitely can’t afford catastrophic care.

More people will be productive members of the workforce, who will in turn contribute more to Oklahoma’s bottom line than it will have cost us.

And it’s already cost us.

[Stillwater News Press]

Numbers of the Day

  • 113,000 – Total number of LGBTQ+ adult Oklahomans — 3.8% of the adult population of the state. 
  • 25th – Oklahoma’s current rank in the nation for COVID-19 testing per capita. At 5,369 tests per 100,000 people, Oklahoma’s testing rate is only slightly behind the national average of 5,985.
  • 11% – Percentage of Black Oklahomans who account for the state’s COVID-19 cases, while they represent 7 percent of the state’s population.  White Oklahomans account for 74 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases and 72 percent of the state’s population. American Indians or Alaska Natives account for 7 percent of Oklahoma’s COVID-19 cases and 8 percent of the state’s population.  
  • 40% – Percentage of child care workers who are women of color. Women of color represent 20% of the U.S. population. 
  • 500,000 – The cumulative number of Oklahomans who have filed unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • A snapshot of how COVID-19 is impacting the LGBTQ community [Boston University Today]
  • What do coronavirus racial disparities look like state by state? [NPR]
  • How racism, health disparities harm Black Americans [Indiana Public Media]
  • The forgotten essential workers: Women of color in child care [Real Clear Policy]
  • Pandemic and digital divide threaten accurate census count of Native populations [Truthout]


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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