The Weekly Wonk June 7, 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, we released our FY 2016 Budget Highlights, which include a bullet point summary of the state budget, six charts illustrating different aspects of the budget, and a table showing appropriations for every state agency going back to 2009. Executive Director David Blatt suggested that tax breaks for wind production were targeted in the 2015 legislative session not because they were the most egregious giveaways but because they were easier targets than other tax breaks. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis described the three kinds of critics of the state budget deal.

On the OK Policy Blog and in the Tulsa World, Policy Director Gene Perry explained why cutting taxes isn’t the path to a strong economy. In his Journal Record column, Blatt shared how bipartisan action in the Legislature resulted in criminal justice reform this year, including bills making it easier for some ex-offenders to obtain drivers licenses and find employment. These restrictions and others have kept many Oklahomans with felony records from rebuilding their lives after prison. Policy analyst Carly Putnam was included in American Health Line’s daily news briefing and quoted in an Oklahoma Watch article discussing record levels of homelessness in Oklahoma schools.

Weekly What’s That:

State Aid

State Aid represents the funds that are appropriated by the State Legislature for school districts, and distributed by the State Department of Education through the State Aid Formula. State Aid is based primarily on the number of students attending in each district, with allowances made for various student characteristics represented as grade and categorical weights. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week:

“I bring home about $2,000 take home a month. I made $12 a month too much to go on food stamps. That’s with a bachelor’s degree.”

-Tulsa 4th grade teacher Stephanie Anderson, who said she is considering becoming one of the hundreds of Oklahoma teachers leaving the profession due to low pay (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

Gene Perry, The Tulsa World

Tax rates had nothing to do with our prosperity, but Oklahoma went ahead and slashed taxes during the good times. The result is a huge budget gap that is devastating our schools, infrastructure, public safety, and other services that are critical for keeping Oklahoma prosperous and a great place to live. Going further down that road when we can afford it even less is no recipe for a strong economy.

Numbers of the Day:

  • 47.5% – the percentage of Oklahomans who identified as “very religious” in 2014. The national average was 40.6 percent.
  • 22 – the number of Oklahomans killed by police officers this year, giving the state the highest per capita deaths by police in the nation.
  • 17.5% – the percentage of Oklahoma teachers categorized as “unqualified” because they do not have a standard teaching certification.
  • 23.7% – the percentage of adults in Oklahoma who reported smoking in 2013, down from 26.1% in 2011.
  • 109,500 – the estimated number of people employed by women-owned businesses in Oklahoma in 2015.

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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