The Weekly Wonk June 14, 2015

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This week on the OK Policy Blog, we explained why flat funding still means cuts for core services. You can learn more about this year’s budget with our FY 2016 Budget Highlights, which shows appropriations for every state agency going back to 2009. Intern Derek Wietelman suggested that, contrary to rhetoric from state leadership, it should be easy for Oklahoma to implement the EPA’s new climate change rule.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis argued that while legislators say that they want to find the money to give teachers raises next year, they already missed an opportunity to make doing so less difficult. Executive Director David Blatt wondered in his Journal Record column what it will take for Oklahomans to demand lawmakers fund the education our children deserve.

Weekly What’s That:

Federal Poverty Level

The federal poverty level (FPL) is a measure of income issued annually by the Department of Health and Human Services that is used to determine eligibility for various public programs and benefits, including Medicaid, health insurance premium tax credits, the free- and reduced- school lunch program, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and many others. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week:

“I don’t recall something like this ever happening before. Because of the way the law was written, it’s truly unenforceable.”

– Tulsa Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Trish Williams, speaking about a new state law that bans school districts from deducting Oklahoma Education Association dues for teachers and other school employees. A law firm representing more than 300 of the state’s public school districts said numerous flaws in the law make it unenforceable (Source).

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

Editorial Board, Stillwater News Press

The people need to tell legislators “we are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.” Our sons and daughters deserve better than they are receiving. If you want your child or grandchild to have a chance for a better life and to live the Oklahoma and American dream, you need to start telling your legislators to make it a priority next session.

Numbers of the Day:

  • 5.8% – percentage of Oklahoma women age 15 to 50 who gave birth in 2013.
  • 150 – projected number of lives saved per year if Oklahoma accepts federal funds to expand health coverage to low-income Oklahomans.
  • 51st – Oklahoma’s ranking for the percentage of kids participating in a federal summer nutrition program, out of all 50 states and Washington DC.
  • 78.7% – average salary of Oklahoma public school teachers as a percentage of the national average, 2013-2014.
  • 32.6% – obesity rate in Oklahoma in 2014, the fifth-highest in the US

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What we’re Reading:


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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