The Weekly Wonk June 21, 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 explain how lawmakers used the same tactics criticized in a court challenge when drafting the FY 2016 budget. A guest post discusses states’ tendency to replicate public policies enacted in other states despite lacking evidence demonstrating whether those policies work. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis explores why Oklahoma’s attempt to ban teacher payroll deductions may be unenforceable. We checked in on key education and criminal justice bills from this session.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that debates over whether the state budget grew or shrank this year ignore the fact that, either way, core services are still badly underfunded. Our FY 2016 Budget Highlights provides a more thorough explanation of the budget, including state agency appropriations since 2009. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam was quoted in an Oklahoma Watch article on King v. Burwell, which could result in skyrocketing premiums and cause thousands of Oklahomans to lose their health insurance.

Weekly What’s That:


The term “dual-eligible” refers to people who are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid at the same time. They usually qualify for Medicare Part A (primarily covers hospital care) and/or Part B (medical insurance; mostly covers doctor’s visits, outpatient procedure, health care supplies, and preventive care), as well as… Read more.

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

Quote of the Week:

“We sure didn’t choose to make so many and such large reductions all at once this year. But we have faced our financial reality, made the difficult decisions, and I’m confident DHS will survive these unsettling times.”

– Oklahoma Department of Human Services Director Ed Lake, speaking about how the agency is dealing with a $45.2 million funding shortfall. DHS is eliminating the equivalent of 200 positions, cutting reimbursement for developmental disabilities and aging Medicaid waiver program providers, and eliminating state funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, among other cuts (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

Kathryn A. LaFortune, The Tulsa World

In 1989, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals…flatly rejected the right to juvenile competency, holding that Oklahoma’s general competency statute was simply not applicable to juvenile proceedings: “It is neither appropriate nor necessary to extend the protections of the competency statutes to juveniles because juvenile proceedings, which are characterized as ‘specifically not criminal,’ are ‘directed toward rehabilitation.’”

In other words, it really would not matter that a child understand and be able to assist a lawyer because the system was supposedly focused on treatment, not punishment.

Much has changed 26 years later.

Numbers of the Day:

  • 2.00% – the percentage increase in housing units in Oklahoma from 2010 (1,666,093) to 2014 (1,699,438)
  • 89.1% – the cost of living in Oklahoma as a percentage of the national average
  • 22.76% – how much the average salary for Oklahoma state employees is below comparable jobs in other states and the private sector.
  • $34,884 – average salary for classified employees of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, 21 percent below the average salary for similar jobs in other states and the private sector.
  • 85% – Oklahoma’s public high school cohort graduation rate for the 2012-13 school year

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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