The Weekly Wonk: Get the rundown on bills we’re watching in new weekly legislative updates

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.

The sixth annual Summer Policy Institute will be held July 29 – August 1 .  Click here for more information or to apply.

This Week from OK Policy

OK Policy launched a new weekly legislative update on our blog this week – get the rundown on the bills we’re watching. Strategy & Communications Director Gene Perry explained that teachers’ real take home pay has shrunk for 10 out of the past 11 years. Executive Director David Blatt bemoaned that lack of legislative will to push for meaningful reform of SQ 640 – the constitutional provision that makes it nearly impossible to raise much-needed new revenue.

Blatt’s Journal Record column argued that recent actions by state policy makers to “reform” Medicaid are really just punishing the poor – these measures do nothing to help the poor to move out of poverty. Intern Lydia Lapidus enlightened us about a barrier to employment that we don’t often think of – credit checks as a tool to vet potential employees can put jobs out of reach for those who need them most.

OK Policy in the News

Perry spoke with The Oklahoman for a piece about the impending teacher walkout – the walkout is the result of years of funding struggles for public education in Oklahoma.

Weekly What’s That

Gross Production Tax

The gross production tax, or severance tax, is a value-based tax levied at a basic rate of 7 percent upon the production of oil and gas in Oklahoma. Under legislation approved in 2014 (HB 2562), effective July 1, 2015, oil and gas from newly-spudded wells will be taxed at 2 percent for the first 36 months of production. One percent of gross production tax revenues is divided between counties and school districts, with the remainder going to the state. Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“I think any Republican or Democrat who thinks not getting a deal done is a win is wrong. I believe we get a deal done and we all succeed or we don’t and we all fail. The number one thing I hear in my district is: ‘Fix it.’”

– House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, urging incumbent legislators to support a budget deal that raises revenues in order to improve their chances of being reelected (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Wayne Greene, Tulsa World

It may be hard for middle-class Tulsans to recognize, but you can work very hard in Oklahoma and still be desperately poor. For an able-bodied working-age Oklahoman to be eligible for Medicaid, they can’t earn more than 41 percent of the federal poverty level, which would equate to roughly $7,500 a year for a single mother of one.

Numbers of the Day

  • 7.2% – Percent of the Oklahoma high school class of 2016 that dropped out, down from 9.7% for the class of 2012
  • 67.8% – Percent of voting-age citizens in Oklahoma who were registered for the November 2016 election
  • -14% – Change in the rate of nationally-tracked crimes from 2008 to 2016 in Oklahoma
  • 108,000 – Number of Oklahoma children who had a parent who was ever incarcerated, 12% of all children (2015-16)
  • 11.4% – How much Oklahoma teachers’ average take home pay has shrunk since FY 2006, adjusted for inflation.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.