The Weekly Wonk: Invest in small agencies; Expand Medicaid to tackle the opioid crisis; & 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 from OK Policy

Over the past decade, all state agencies faced repeated and serious budget cuts, but small agencies were hit hardest, with many seeing their state funding cut by 20 to 50 percent. Budget and Tax Senior Policy Analyst Paul Shinn pointed out that making investments in these small agencies will have little impact on the budget and pay off many times over in a healthier environment, safer communities, a better quality of life, and a stronger economy.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt shared why talking openly about mental illness is important to him. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update made the case for Medicaid expansion to address the opioid crisis.

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we’re featuring Education Policy Analyst and KIDS COUNT Coordinator Rebecca Fine.

OK Policy in the News

The Ardmoreite wrote about our upcoming fundraiser in downtown Ardmore for students attending the Summer Policy Institute. The piece appeared in The Shawnee News-Star, The Miami News-Record, and Pawhuska Journal-Capital.

Upcoming Opportunities

Today is the last day to apply for our fall internships: This fall we have internship opportunities in two areas: public policy and data. The deadline to apply is Sunday, July 21st at midnight.

Join us for a scholarship fundraiser discussing Ardmore’s history: Join us in downtown Ardmore on Monday evening to learn about the history of the town with The Ardmoreite managing editor Robby Short and City Commissioner Martin Dyer, among others, while raising scholarship funds for students attending the Summer Policy Institute. We hope to see you on Monday, July 22 at 6 PM in Marvin’s Place Art Gallery in downtown Ardmore.

Last week to apply for the Communications Director position: The Communications Director has primary responsibility for developing and implementing an integrated, organization-wide strategic communications plan that helps to shape policy debates and broaden awareness of OK Policy’s mission, work, and policy solutions. The deadline to apply is Friday, July 26th at midnight.

Weekly What’s That

Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), what’s that?

The Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), created by SB 1 in 2019, is a division within the Legislative Service Bureau. intended to provide greater legislative oversight of state agency budgets.

Duties of the Office include gathering information related to proposed agency budgets; evaluating the extent to which each agency fulfills its statutory responsibilities; determining the amount of revenue available to the agency from various sources; comparing current budget information to prior agency requests; and conducting an investigation of any agency as needed to fulfill its responsibilities. Read more about LOFT.

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

Chart of the Week

A graph from our piece on cuts to small agency budgets in Oklahoma by Budget & Tax Policy Senior Analyst Paul Shinn. Thirty-five of Oklahoma’s smallest agencies will receive less funding than they did 11 years ago, even without accounting for inflation or population growth. Twenty-two (20 percent) have been cut by 20 percent or more. Chart from Shinn’s piece on small agency budgets.

Quote of the Week

“Instead of taking away an abuser from a family and allowing a family to live and grow in peace together, they let the actual abuser back out on the street, failed to protect the children, failed to protect the victim of domestic violence … and instead locked her up for not doing enough in the right way at the right time to combat the man who was threatening her life.’

–  Megan Lambert, a legal fellow for the ACLU of Oklahoma, speaking about the excessive sentences often imposed on women for failing to protect their children from an abusive partner who is also abusing them, while the abuser is able to secure a plea bargain for a lighter sentence [The Oklahoman]

Editorial of the Week

Ginnie Graham: Oklahoma can be a top 10 state if it reduces children experiencing trauma

Americans love the Horatio Alger stories of people pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps; people who had chaotic childhoods but ended up with college degrees, careers and healthy relationships. The Adverse Childhood Experience measure shows that to be a statistical myth. No one can do it alone; traumatic and destructive behavior can become generational and even successful people will often show signs of struggle somewhere in their lives.

Numbers of the Day

  • 39% – Percent decrease in enrollment in bachelor’s of education programs across all Oklahoma state colleges and universities from 2008-2018
  • 17% – Percentage of Oklahomans age 18 and older who went without health care because of cost in 2017
  • $906 million – The inflation-adjusted decline in state budget appropriations since FY 2009
  • 72% – The percentage of inmates released in FY 2018 who the Department of Corrections assessed as needing cognitive behavioral treatment but did not receive that treatment in FY 2018.
  • $103 million – The dollar decrease in state support for school operations excluding money for mandated pay raises since its funding peak in FY 2008, even as K-12 enrollment has grown by over 50,000 students.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Trump’s bid to wipe out AIDS will take more than a pill [Politico]
  • Inside the elementary school where drug addiction sets the curriculum [New York Times]
  • An Epidemic of Disbelief: What new research reveals about sexual predators, and why police fail to catch them [The Atlantic]
  • Federal grants restricted to fighting opioids miss the mark, states say [NPR]
  • Rural Health: Financial insecurity plagues many who live with disability [NPR]


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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