The Weekly Wonk: Funding flexibility for school districts will create some tough choices

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

Strategy & Communications Director Gene Perry argued that a bill purporting to create funding flexibility for school districts will lead to some very tough choices. Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column warned that the effort to overturn the funding package for teacher pay raises and education funding is politically perilous. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update wondered if the history of SQ 640 is about to repeat itself with the referendum to veto the funding package. Blatt explained what needs to happen next in order to continue the push for increased education funding.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke with The Oklahoman about increased funding for most state agencies in next year’s budget.  OK Policy data and analysis made an appearance in stories from NonDoc, Shareblue Media, the New York City Food Policy Center, and Dan Boyd’s editorial in the Journal Record.  

Upcoming Opportunties

OK Policy is hiring TWO new policy analysts! The education analyst position will be OK Policy’s first staffer to be fully dedicated to this issue area. The criminal justice analyst position will build on the work of our current criminal justice analyst, Ryan Gentzler, who will transition to leading a new justice data project within OK Policy. The deadline to apply for these positions is close of business on Thursday, May 17. To learn more about how to apply and see the job responsibilities, qualifications, and salary information on these positions, see our job announcement here

And don’t forget that applications are open for the 2018 Summer Policy Institute – click here to learn more and apply!

Weekly What’s That

Emergency Clause

The emergency clause is a provision included as part of a bill in the Oklahoma  Legislature that allows it to become effective immediately upon the signature of the Governor or at a specified date. Emergency clauses require two-thirds approval by both houses and are voted on separately and subsequently to the vote in favor or against a measure. A law cannot become effective fewer than 90 days after sine die adjournment without an emergency clause. The one exception is the General Appropriations bill, which can take effect on July 1st without an emergency clause and by a simple majority.

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

Quote of the Week

“This budget in no way makes everyone as complete and whole as we were in 2009.”

– Sen. Kim David (R-Porter), on the budget plan passed by the Senate, acknowledging that almost all agencies continue to be underfunded even with the increases in the budget (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Pat Viklund, Tulsa World

Oklahoma’s growing prison population, and the amount spent to support it, threatens our future. In 2015, Oklahoma spent more than $450 million on prisons, or approximately $16,000 per prisoner, yet we spent roughly $8,000 per student in our public schools — and it’s getting worse. If we keep incarcerating people at the current pace, Oklahoma’s prison population could grow by 25 percent over the next decade, at a cost of nearly $2 billion to taxpayers. Thankfully, legislators have taken action to begin slowing that growth, but more progress is needed. We can’t afford to continue sending thousands of people back to prison when it doesn’t improve public safety and drains the state’s financial resources.

Numbers of the Day

  • 13.3% – Eviction filing rate in Tulsa County, the highest of any county in Oklahoma.
  • 70% – Percentage of District Attorney positions in Oklahoma where only one candidate filed in the 2018 election (19 out of 27 districts).
  • 28% – Percent of females living with HIV in Oklahoma whose diagnosis was attributed to injection drug use (2014).
  • 6,218 – People in prison in Oklahoma for nonviolent offenses who are past their first parole date, December 2017. The Parole Board released only 325 in 2017.
  • $1.93 billion – How much total annual payroll for all industries decreased in Oklahoma from 2015 to 2016, a 3.2% drop.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • 100 years of tax brackets, in one chart [Vox]
  • The States Where People Die Young [The Atlantic]
  • Republicans Couldn’t Knock Down Obamacare. So They’re Finding Ways Around It [New York Times]
  • Automatic Voter Registration Goes Beyond the DMV [Governing]
  • These Volunteers Are Battling Idaho’s Government To Expand Medicaid [Buzzfeed News]


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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