The Weekly Wonk: FY 2019 budget is an improvement after several years of shortfalls and cuts, but there’s still work to do

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

Monday was our last Bill Watch post – see what we were looking at during this final week of session. One of those things was, of course, the FY 2019 budget. Executive Director David Blatt mused that, after several straight years of shortfalls and cut, this budget is a step in the right direction. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update remarked on the return of line-item appropriations in this budget. Our full video series on Oklahomans who are under threat by the push to restrict access to SoonerCare is now available.

Liz Waggoner, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition, wrote a guest post explaining the importance of pay transparency in shrinking the gender pay gap. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler lamented the passage of a bill that will allow life without parole sentences for juveniles in Oklahoma. Blatt’s Journal Record column paid tribute to Penny Williams, the longest-serving female lawmaker in Oklahoma history and one of very few women to rise to a position of leadership in the legislature.

OK Policy in the News

OK Policy’s work advocating against increasing barriers to health care was referenced by the Tahlequah Daily Press. And our work on the negative effects of tax cuts on Oklahoma’s budget made an appearance in The Courier in Waterloo, Iowa.

Weekly What’s That

Sine Die

Sine die is a term for the adjournment of an assembly for an indefinite period, from the Latin “without day”. In March 1989, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 620,  which provided that regular legislative sessions begin on the first Monday in February and adjourn sine die not later than 5:00 pm on the last Friday in May.

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

Quote of the Week

“This bill will make our state the worst state in the country for children who commit crimes. We will again be known across this country as a place that does not protect its children.”

– Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, speaking against Senate Bill 1221, a measure making it easier to sentence minors age 13-17 to life without parole (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Ari Papahronis, Columbia Spectator

There is a running joke in my family that after I graduated from a teacher’s class, the teacher would leave the school. I thought the joke was supposed to be about my behavior in class, but now it has come to embody my experience as an Oklahoma public school student. While I would smirk, my younger brother scowled as we watched the same teachers’ positions being filled by young graduates, then coaches, then student teachers, then… no one. What I grew up thinking was inevitable career movement was in fact an education system falling apart, crumbling faster and faster behind me as I walked, then panically sprinted across a foundation that could not support the weight of its students.

Numbers of the Day

  • 50.3% – Homeownership rate for Hispanic Oklahomans in 2017, above the national average for Hispanic homeownership of 46.2%.
  • 82 – Oklahoma women per 100,000 who were admitted to prisons in FY 2017, 91% higher than the national average
  • 8th – Oklahoma’s national ranking for suicide deaths rate in 2016, with a rate 55 percent higher than the national average.
  • 7,328 – Oklahoma prison admissions for nonviolent offenses in FY 2017, 77% of all admissions.
  • 2nd – Oklahoma’s national ranking for death rate from heart disease in 2016.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • The Restaurant Industry Ran a Private Poll on the Minimum Wage. It Did Not Go Well for Them. [The Intercept]
  • Why the school spending graph Betsy DeVos is sharing doesn’t mean what she says it does [Chalkbeat]
  • What Adult Learners Really Need (Hint: It’s Not Just Job Skills) [NPR]
  • Prosecutors Aren’t Just Enforcing the Law — They’re Making It [In Justice Today]
  • Why the GOP food stamp overhaul might not work [Politico]


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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