What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.
This week at OK Policy, summer intern Trevor Shanklin makes the case for reconsidering the criminalization of marijuana in Oklahoma. With our prison system currently operating at 96 percent capacity, over half of which are non-violent offenders, it’s time for a well-informed discussion on the costs and benefits of prohibition. We also took up corrections reform on our blog this week. Although our prison population has doubled since the mid-90s, the Department of Corrections budget has been reduced by about $43 million since 2009. While state leaders made real progress on corrections reform this year, we discuss what still needs to be done.
Yesterday’s blog post revisited the ‘cliff effect’ – the abrupt loss of all work-support benefits when a low-income family earns a small increase in wages and becomes ineligible. The Department of Human Services recently announced new eligibility rules for child care subsidies, effectively penalizing working parents who have moved up the income ladder by withdrawing support just when financial security is within their reach. Last but not least, we interviewed fourth grade teacher Anna Eller on ways that teachers can encourage children to make healthier choices.
In the Know, Policy Notes
- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities looks at the myths and realities about who pays federal taxes.
- A Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who worked for The Washington Post tells his story of living as an undocumented immigrant.
- The Urban Institute has a new brief summarizing the effects of health reform on small businesses and their workers.
- Illinois is pulling out of the Secure Communities program because it was identifying too many undocumented immigrants with only minor convictions or no criminal record.
- The AP looks at how lawmakers across the country are attempting to collect unpaid taxes on Internet sales to close state budget gaps.
- 78,000 – Number of millionaires living in Oklahoma in 2010.
- $2,983,362 – Amount paid by 8 pharmaceutical companies to Oklahoma providers between 2009-2011.
- 2nd – Oklahoma’s rank in a national survey of states with the highest concentration of Wal-Mart stores, with 103 locations in 2011.
- 6 – Number of abortion providers – clinics, hospitals, private physicians – in the state of Oklahoma, 2008.
- 16 percent – Percentage of the civilian population of Oklahoma without health insurance in 2009; Oklahoma ranks 34th highest nationally on percentage of the population that is uninsured.