The Weekly Wonk: EITC is effective anti-poverty program, a call for bipartisan cooperation, and 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.

NOTE: The Weekly Wonk will be on hiatus for the next two weeks while our staff takes time off for the holiday and travels to Washington D.C. for an annual conference. If you enjoy reading these weekly updates, we encourage you to make an online donation to support our mission. This week’s edition of The Weekly Wonk was published with contributions from Open Justice Oklahoma Intern Thomas Gao.

This Week from OK Policy

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one of the most effective anti-poverty programs in America. Despite its effectiveness, 1 in 4 Oklahoma households eligible for the EITC do not claim the credit because the rules on who can claim it are extensive and challenging to understand. If Congress were to simplify the rules around the EITC, they could make this already effective anti-poverty tool even more effective.

In her weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director Ahniwake Rose called on our state to work across partisan lines to advance policies that allow all Oklahomans to thrive.

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Carly Putnam spoke to Bloomberg Law about model legislation, pushed by national organizations, that is threatening access to health care in Oklahoma. KOCO cited data from a recent juvenile justice report published by Open Justice Oklahoma, a program of OK Policy.

Weekly What’s That

Medicaid waiver, what’s that?

Waivers are way for states to test and implement new ways of administering Medicaid or CHIP services. If states want to change aspects of their Medicaid program beyond what is typically allowed, they have to get approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency within the US Department of Health and Human Services. Although CMS is fairly flexible in what it will allow for waivers, certain elements are non-negotiable: among others, the plan implemented under the waiver can’t cost more than care without the waiver; and certain groups (infants and children, individuals with disabilities) at certain income levels must be covered. Learn more about Medicaid waivers.

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

Quote of the Week

“I just really want legislators to hear: ‘Thank you for the raise, but it’s really not all about teacher pay. It’s about working conditions. It’s class size, lack of support staff, lack of materials.”

– Melissa Hicks, a Tulsa Public School librarian speaking to her senator at a Tulsa event that connected parents and lawmakers [Tulsa World].

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World editorial: Find reasonable pathways for ex-inmates to reinstate drivers licenses

An employer spoke about the struggles seen among former inmates unable to get a driver’s license. They often are limited to where they can walk, especially in rural or suburban areas that don’t have public transportation.

Oklahoma lawmakers can fix this.

Ongoing criminal justice reform is tackling the fees and fines assessed by courts to determine fairness and equity. Amounts ought not create debtors prisons or deepen poverty.

A system that financially handcuffs those who have served their time in prison doesn’t solve problems, the inmate’s or the state’s. [Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 13.15% – Percentage of American Indian and Alaskan Native students in Oklahoma public schools
  • 3 – Number of sovereigns a tribal citizen in Oklahoma is a citizen of: their tribal nation, the United States, and Oklahoma
  • 81.4% – High school graduation rate for American Indian and Alaskan Native students in Oklahoma, compared to a state average of 81.6%
  • 18.8% – Percentage of uninsured Native American children in Oklahoma, the largest uninsured population among children
  • 96,177 – The number of jobs that Oklahoma tribes supported in the state in 2017, representing $4.6 billion in wages and benefits to Oklahoma workers.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • National Congress of American Indians releases new report featuring a landscape analysis on the availability of education about Native Americans in K-12 schools [NCAI]
  • Oklahoma leading the way in training Native American doctors [The Oklahoman]
  • Urban Indian Health Institute issues report on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls entitled “We Demand More” [Native News Online]
  • Report says tribal health insurance increased but behind U.S. average [Indian Country Today]
  • Tribal Technology Assessment: The state of internet service on tribal lands [American Indian Policy Institute]

November is Native American Heritage Month. We recognize and celebrate the history, cultures, and contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native people in the state and across the country.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma.

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