The Weekly Wonk – June 3, 2011

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, we took a look back at all the bills we blogged about throughout the session.  Now that sine die has passed, take a look at our inventory of legislators’ efforts, ranging from the crucially important to the frivolously inane.

On Wednesday we blogged about Oklahoma’s success as a leader in alternative education.  Guest blogger Kathy McKean, director of the Oklahoma Technical Assistance Center, explains that alternative programs in the state are true alternatives – schools of opportunity for high-risk students – with Oklahoma coming out on top in a national study of alternative education.

Yesterday we blogged about action taken this session to shore up the state’s pension system.  Rhetoric about unfunded pension liabilities being at a “crisis level” or a “ticking bomb” creates the misleading impression that radical changes, like significantly cutting public employees’ retirement benefits, is the only option. Yet rather than pursuing radical changes, the Oklahoma legislature opted for incremental reforms within the current structure of defined benefit retirement plans.

Also this week, CapitolBeatOK cited our work on past state efforts to maintain an executive quick-action closing fund to leverage deals to attract businesses.  Director David Blatt was cited by Oklahoma Watch in a story on holes in the state’s tax code.

In the Know, Policy Notes

Numbers of the Week

  • 324,700 – Number of war veterans in Oklahoma, 2010
  • 0 – Number of times the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down state redistricting on the basis of partisan gerrymandering; In 1986, the Court ruled that gerrymandering is justiciable – meaning an issue that is within its judicial authority to rule
  • $2,113 – Amount spent on gasoline by the average Oklahoma driver in 2010
  • 6,323 – Number of Oklahoma offenders in the custody of contract correctional facilities as of May 23rd, 2011
  • $2,938,388,810 – Total retail sales for prescription drugs filled at Oklahoma pharmacies in 2009


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