The Weekly Wonk: Governor’s Medicaid proposal, the need for investing in Oklahomans, and more

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’s edition of The Weekly Wonk was published with contributions from Open Justice Oklahoma Intern Thomas Gao.

This Week from OK Policy

Oklahoma lawmakers on Wednesday were slated to consider SB 1046 that contained a key funding mechanism for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s proposed Medicaid alternative plan, which is untested and will face lengthy legal challenges. OK Policy released a statement noting that lawmakers did the right thing when SB 1046 was not taken up.We urged legislators to keep the measure tabled and called on the Governor’s office to set an election date for SQ 802, which includes full Medicaid expansion. Read the full statement.

Budget and Tax Senior Policy Analyst Paul Shinn warned against moving more money into savings and made the case for wise investments based on actual needs. Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison published an analysis on Oklahoma’s ranking in Prosperity Now’s Scorecard and noted that although Oklahoma’s rank has not improved, there are good policy solutions to improve economic well-being for all Oklahomans.

In her weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director Ahniwake Rose commemorated Black History Month by highlighting Oklahoma’s unique history with black-owned businesses and how those impacts are still felt in our state today.

OK Policy in the News

NonDoc cited OK Policy’s opposition to SB 1046 in a story about the Governor’s Medicaid alternative plan. Public Radio Tulsa cited OK Policy data on the state EITC in a story about anti-hunger groups meeting with state legislators. The City Sentinel wrote about CAIR-OK’s 6th annual Oklahoma Muslim Day at the Capitol where OK Policy Senior Field Organizer Kyle Lawson will be presenting on effective legislative advocacy. 

Upcoming Opportunities

Together OK Day of Advocacy at the Capitol – Protecting Medicaid: Join us at the Capitol to deliver to Governor Stitt’s office the Together OK petition calling for an election date to be set for State Question 802.

  • Oklahoma City | Wednesday, March 4, 2020 @ 10 a.m. | Oklahoma State Capitol | Learn more and RSVP

Together OK Norman – Opportunities for Working Families: Join advocates in Norman to discuss policy solutions that help working Oklahomans get ahead. 

  • Norman | Thursday, March 5, 2020 @ 6 p.m. | Center for Children and Families Inc. | Learn more and RSVP

Weekly What’s That

Committee Substitute, what’s that?

A committee substitute is a revised version of legislation proposed for consideration or adoption by a committee. The committee substitute replaces, in whole, the original bill that was referred to a committee, including conference committees. Read more about committee substitutes.

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

Quote of the Week

“It is also an indication that there is a bipartisan skepticism that this alternative to traditional Medicaid expansion is going to really serve the people of Oklahoma.”

– Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City, speaking about the Governor’s alternative Medicaid proposal [Tulsa World]

Editorial of the Week

Census benefits Oklahomans

This year will be more important than ever for Oklahomans to participate in the census. Households will begin receiving official Census Bureau mail in March with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone, or by mail… It is estimated that every person not counted in the census costs the state approximately $1,800 per year in lost federal funding for 10 years. An undercount of just 2 percent could cost the state up to $1.8 billion over a decade.

[Source: Muskogee Phoenix]

Numbers of the Day

  • $663,557,851 – The amount of fines and fees which were not collected between 2012 and 2018.
  • -15.6% – The percentage change for nonviolent crime in Oklahoma from 201o to 2018
  • -2.5% – The percentage decrease in violent crime in Oklahoma between 2010 and 2018.
  • 75,778 – Total number of Black children in Oklahoma in 2018 — 8% of the total Oklahoma child population.
  • 435 million – The accumulated state budget savings since 2001 due to a 64 percent decline in youth detention costs.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Small towns in much of the country are dangerously dependent on punitive fines and fees [Governing]
  • Is the ‘War on Drugs’ over? Arrest statistics say no [The Upshot / New York Times]
  • Digital jail: How electronic monitoring drives defendants into debt [ProPublica]
  • Black History Month: Greenwood District & 1921 Race Massacre [Tulsa World]
  • Before their day in court, poor people charged with crimes can spend years in jail [Kansas City Star]

Note: Throughout the week, we highlighted policy notes and numbers that speak to the need for targeted criminal justice reform in Oklahoma, which was identified as one of OK Policy’s Legislative focus areas during this session. Here is an issue summary (PDF), as well as additional resources on the issue. Learn more about other OK Policy 2020 Legislative focus areas


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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