The Weekly Wonk: Five things we already know about the 2018 elections

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’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

Want a recap of the recently concluded legislative session? Check out our end of session wrap up. Executive Director David Blatt also recounted some of the measures that showed a tough but ill-advised stance on poor people, crime, same-sex families, and guns – the hot button issues received more than their share of attention. But raising the revenue desperately needed to fund core services was more difficult than it should have been – Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update told us all about it.

Blatt shared five things we know about the 2018 elections based on candidate filings. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison warned us about the proposed farm bill that will be considered soon by the U.S. House of Representatives – if passed, it will result in more Oklahomans going hungry. Spring Intern Aaron Krusniak explained that internet access still a significant barrier for many Oklahomans, making it difficult (if not impossible) to verify and report hours worked in order to receive public benefits.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke with Vox about the funding package for the recently passed pay raises for teachers and state workers. Blatt was the featured guest on KWGS’ Studio Tulsa and OETA’s News Report discussing the recently completed legislative session. An OK Policy piece about the harm that will result from work requirements for Medicaid recipients was used by The Oklahoman. OK Policy data made an appearance in NonDoc and Oklahoma Watch.

Upcoming Opportunities

Join our team! We are hiring two new policy analysts, one to focus on education issues, the other on criminal justice. Check out the job announcements here, and spread the word to others who may be interested. The deadline to apply for both positions is this Thursday, May 17th.

There’s still time to apply for the Summer Policy Institute! The Institute brings together more than 50 highly-qualified undergraduate and graduate students for an exciting and stimulating four-day learning experience. SPI offers participants a unique opportunity to become better informed about the most important Oklahoma policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders, and prepare for their future studies and work in policy-related fields. Applications are due May 25th – click here to get yours!

Weekly What’s That

Veto Referendum

Under the Oklahoma Constitution, citizens have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. To put a veto referendum on the ballot requires signatures equal to 5 percent of voters in the last Gubernatorial election. Currently (2018), a veto referendum would require 41,242 signatures to get on the ballot. After a veto referendum is drafted, it goes through a lengthy process which can include various legal challenges. Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“If you go to the right places, you’re going to be able to find people that don’t want to raise taxes. I (think the referendum) is a little misguided, a lot misguided. I know for a fact that knocking doors, talking to neighbors that even people that don’t want higher taxes or anything like that, are not for this.”

– Rep. Jacob Rosecrants (D-Norman) on the veto referendum effort by Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! to roll back the funding for teacher pay raises and increased education funding (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Writers, Tulsa World

For the first time in a very long time, the Oklahoma Legislature made progress on critical issues facing the state in 2018. If we had to wrap up the work of lawmakers in the regular and in special sessions in five words or less, those words would be: Good, but hardly good enough…There will be plenty left for the 2019 Oklahoma Legislature to address. The final verdict on the 2018 Legislature will be delivered by the voters.

Numbers of the Day

  • 30.42% – On-time graduation rate in Oklahoma’s K-12 virtual schools, 2016-17.
  • 49th – Oklahoma’s national ranking for healthy life expectancy at birth in 2016, down from a ranking of 38th in 1990.
  • 790 – Number of deaths by suicide in Oklahoma in 2017, more than twice as many as deaths from homicide.
  • 42.7% – Percent of Oklahoma high school students who report playing video games or using a computer for something besides school work for 3 or more hours per day on an average school day (2017).

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Even if they want to go to college, millions of adults live in higher education “deserts” [Hechinger Report]
  • For millions, low-wage work really is a dead end [CBS News]
  • A Witness to the Desegregation—and Resegregation—of America’s Schools [Atlantic]
  • The National Fight for Paid Leave Has Moved to Statehouses[Slate]


Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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