The Weekly Wonk: Class size matters; fixing online sales taxes; priorities for justice reform…

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 Education Policy Analyst Rebecca Fine described why investing in reducing class sizes should be the next step to undo the damage caused by years of education cuts. Executive Director David Blatt said Oklahoma should require all remote sellers to collect state taxes to prevent the loss of revenue and ensure an even playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers and their online competitors.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Blatt wrote about Oklahoma’s upside-down tax system and how restoring the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit would provide some balance to the tax system. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update listed three priorities for criminal justice reform that would yield both immediate and long-term results.

OK Policy in the News

Outreach and Legislative Director Bailey Perkins sat down with Ben Felder and Dale Denwalt of NewsOK’s Political State to discuss the gubernatorial elections. Blatt spoke with Wayne Green of the Tulsa World for an editorial on how Oklahoma’s tax system got so regressive. In a story in The Ada News, a candidate for House District 25 cited OK Policy’s recent tax analysis during a debate. 

Upcoming Opportunities

Request absentee ballot by Wed, Oct 31: The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the upcoming elections is this Wednesday, October 31st at 5 pm. Visit the Oklahoma State Election Board page to request an absentee ballot online. Visit our #OKvotes page to find more election information, important dates, and other resources.

Early voting starts Thur, Nov 1: This year, early voting will be open on Thursday, November 1st from 8 am to 6 pm, Friday, November 2nd from 8 am to 6 pm, and Saturday, November 3rd from 9 am to 2 pm at your county election board. Use the Oklahoma State Election Board website’s voter tool to find your county election board. 

Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections: To help voters in their election research, OK Policy has published fact sheets on each State Questions and gathered useful links and deadlines. We also published graphics with supporting and opposing arguments on each state questions on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Visit our #OKvotes page to find election information, important dates, voter tools, and much more. 

Weekly What’s That

Oklahoma Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is one of Oklahoma’s three appellate courts, along with the Court of Civil Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals. An appellate court hears appeals from lower court decisions. The Oklahoma Supreme Court was established under Article VII of the state Constitution. Originally, the Oklahoma Supreme Court had five justices, but four more were added in 1917 to accommodate a growing caseload. The Oklahoma Supreme Court has jurisdiction over all civil matters from lower courts such as district courts, the Court of Tax Review, and over conflicts arising amongst state agencies. The Supreme Court further assesses the legality of actions taken by the legislative and executive branches.

Justices are up for a retention election after their first year, and then every six years following. These elections are nonpartisan and prohibit any campaign fundraising. Oklahoma is one of 39 states where voters play a role in selecting judicial positions. No justice has ever lost a retention election. Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Paying teachers more helps by attracting great teachers to work here and retain those we already have. But it’s not enough. A 30-student class with a great teacher will still include students who aren’t getting the attention they need to thrive.”

-Adam Kupetsky, member of the Tulsa World’s Community Advisory Board [Tulsa World]

Editorial of the Week

Wayne Greene: How Oklahoma’s tax system got so regressive

Both political parties have culpability here: The passive tax increases of inflation occurred when Democrats were in power at the state Capitol; the Republicans didn’t address it and made the trend worse when they cut the top tax rate. For a decade, the state has operated under the mistaken assumption that we could increase prosperity and state revenue by cutting the income tax by gradual fractions. It didn’t work. Predictably, national and international economic trends beyond the control of the Legislature overwhelmed any impact of the change, which left basic state services inadequately funded. At the same time, we made the tax system increasingly regressive. [Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 17,458 – Number of people sent to prison for drug possession in Oklahoma from 2005 to 2015, before SQ 780 made simple possession a misdemeanor.
  • 38% – Uninsured rate for low-income working-age adults in rural Oklahoma, 2015-2016. The US average was 26%.
  • 46% – Percentage increase of indigenous people imprisoned in Oklahoma from 2008-2015.
  • 25.9% – Share of Oklahoma’s population that lives in a “distressed” ZIP code, where the economy is performing in the bottom 20% of the U.S., compared to 17.2% that live in a “prosperous” ZIP code in the top 20%.
  • 33rd – Oklahoma’s ranking out of all 50 states in the 2016 Cost of Voting Index, which measures how easy it is to vote.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Top 1.0 percent reaches highest wages ever—up 157 percent since 1979Top 1.0 percent reaches highest wages ever—up 157 percent since 1979. [Economic Policy Institute]
  • With flu season nearly here, medical experts warn that Trump’s immigration policy is a public health threat. [Pacific Standard]
  • How are America’s public schools really doing? [Washington Post]
  • Miscarrying at Work: The physical toll of pregnancy discrimination. [New York Times]
  • States discover news ways to finance Medicaid expansion. [ABC News]


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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