The Weekly Wonk: Falling behind on poverty & uninsured rate—again; raising the minimum wage; we’re all in it together…

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, Economic Opportunity and Financial Security Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison published an analysis of new Census data which shows that Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate for the second consecutive year. Fall Intern Deon Osborne pointed to the citizen petition as Oklahoma’s best chance at raising the minimum wage

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote about Chobani’s enlightened view of corporate responsibility which recognizes that we’re all in it together. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update described the cost of maintaining the world’s highest incarceration rate

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Carly Putnam spoke with The Journal Record about the need to find affordable solutions to health insurance in Oklahoma. Our fact sheet on State Question 798 was cited by CHNI

Weekly What’s That

Oklahoma Department of Human Services, What’s That?

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is a state agency that administers a range of programs aimed at helping Oklahomans in need, including food benefits (SNAP); temporary cash assistance (TANF); services for persons with developmental disabilities and persons who are aging; adult protective services; child welfare programs; child support services; child care assistance, licensing and monitoring; and SoonerCare applications and eligibility. 

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

Quote of the Week

“We have successful examples of how to fight poverty in this country. But in recent years we have mostly seen attacks on these programs instead of efforts to build on their success.”

-OK Policy analyst Courtney Cullison, speaking about new Census data that shows Oklahoma fell further behind the nation on poverty and uninsured rates in 2017 [OK Policy]

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World editorial: Higher education gives high school students a head start on college, but the Legislature is short-changing the schools

Concurrent enrollment is good for public schools, good for the students and good for the state. It would be good for the colleges and universities too, but the Legislature hasn’t been willing to pay the program’s total costs. From 2010, the Oklahoma Legislature only partially funded concurrent enrollment. Reduced state appropriations and steadily growing number of students enrolling meant state colleges faced a growing funding hole for the program. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, campuses were reimbursed only 26 percent of total cost. The Legislature improved on the situation a bit in the current fiscal year, increasing appropriations by $7.5 million, but that’s still well short of the money needed. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 5.6 – The average number of court filed evictions in Oklahoma every day.
  • 29% – Share of residents in the Tulsa metropolitan area with a preexisting condition in 2015
  • 3,400% – Percentage increase of women incarcerated in the Tulsa County Jail between 1970 and 2016.
  • 72% – Overall funded ratio of Oklahoma’s public pension systems in 2016. The national average is 66%.
  • 381.6 million – Deposit to Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund at the end of FY 2018, which brings the balance to just over $450 million.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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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