The Weekly Wonk: Insights on the budget; retroactive justice reform; Summer Policy Institute deadline…

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 from OK Policy

This week, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a state budget deal for fiscal year 2020 and adjourned session early. To get more insight into the budget deal, Strategy and Communications Director Gene Perry spoke with Executive Director David Blatt, as well as our new senior policy analyst covering budget and tax issues, Paul Shinn.

The Legislature also passed HB 1269 to make the impacts of SQ 780 retroactive. Although this is a positive step for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma, Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade explained how a recent amendment will complicate the bill’s resentencing process and create financial hurdles that will lessen the positive impact of retroactivity.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Blatt noted that our elected officials have gotten wiser about the need to protect the state’s revenue base. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update concluded that it has been a successful session for Governor Stitt’s priorities

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we’re featuring one of our Operations and Development Associates, Kourtni Cain. From grant writing to event planning, Kourtni is a vital part of the OK Policy team!

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke with the Associated Press about how low-income Oklahomans were forgotten in this legislative session. 

Upcoming Opportunities

Last week to apply for the Summer Policy Institute: “The Summer Policy Institute gave me an opportunity to learn so much about this state and the community that I live in and gave me real advice and lessons on how to improve it.” – Braden Patton, Washington University.  The deadline to apply is Friday, May 31st. Click here to learn more and apply.

Weekly What’s That

Sine die, what’s that?

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. Special sessions are also adjourned sine die but there is no set date for their adjournment.

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

Quote of the Week

“Low-income working Oklahomans were once again forgotten this session. In a year where there was plenty of money to expand business incentive programs like the Quick Action Closing Fund and to allocate enormous increases for the governor’s office and the Legislature, there was no excuse for turning a deaf ear to those struggling to get by and get ahead.”

-OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt, on lawmakers’ failure to expand Medicaid, restore the Earned Income Tax Credit, or approve a cost-of-living allowance for retired teachers and state workers this year [Associated Press]

Editorial of the Week

I helped kill the Earned Income Tax Credit, and it’s time to bring it back

I reluctantly ran the bill that stopped the refundability of the Earned Income Tax Credit, along with its budget, which effectively killed the EITC. In my time in the Legislature, several of us advocated for evidence-based policies, like the EITC. So, the irony of losing this program was not lost on me. The refundability of the program is the key to its success. [Mark McCullough / Tulsa World].

Numbers of the Day

  • $6,405 – Average pay increase needed for women in Oklahoma to be paid the same as comparable men
  • 27 – Years difference in life expectancy between Tulsans with a mental illness and Oklahomans without a mental health diagnosis
  • 15.2% – Percentage point increase in voter turnout in Oklahoma from the 2014 to the 2018 mid-terms
  • 43rd – Oklahoma’s ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s best states to live in report. The state’s worst score (47th) was for health care access and affordability
  • 57.8% – The labor force participation rate for Oklahomans age 25-64 who did not complete high school – compared to 69.7% for high school graduates and 85.2% for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Needle exchanges find new champions among Republicans. [Kaiser Health News]
  • How does toxic stress affect low-income and black children? [CityLab]
  • No strings attached: More opioid addicts get meds without talk therapy. [The Marshall Project]
  • Criminal justice reform done right. [Governing]
  • Tribute to a pioneering woman and a hero to all wonks. [Brookings]


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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