The Weekly Wonk: Many good revenue options to avoid a teacher walkout

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

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This Week from OK Policy

Executive Director David Blatt shared the many good revenue options that legislators have to avoid a teacher walkout. Strategy and Communications Director Gene Perry compared Oklahoma’s education funding crisis to that of West Virginia – Oklahoma teachers have a much tougher job ahead of them. Policy Director Carly Putnam warned of lawmakers’ attempts to eliminate health coverage for low-income parents.

Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler argued that private prisons, though bad policy, are not the cause of Oklahoma’s incarceration problem. Blatt’s Journal Record column wondered what it will take for Oklahoma lawmakers to consider sensible gun safety measures.

OK Policy in the News

OK Policy’s work made appearances in a Huffington Post story about how tax cuts contributed to Oklahoma’s education funding crisis, an Education Week story about the impending teacher walkout, and a KFOR piece about lottery funds for education.

Blatt spoke with The Oklahoman about amendments considered by the Senate this week that would have eliminated taxes on groceries while raising the sales tax and the gross production tax, and to the Tulsa World about the Senate’s vote to eliminate the capital gains exemption. Putnam spoke with Wayne Greene of the Tulsa World about why more people on Medicaid aren’t working.

Weekly What’s That

House Bill 1017

House Bill 1017, the Education Reform Act of 1990, was landmark legislation that funded a broad range of education initiatives through increased taxes. The Legislature appropriated more than $560 million over five years to implement a wide range of reform policies, including reduced class sizes, minimum teacher salaries, alternative teacher certification, funding equity, early childhood programs, school consolidation, new statewide curriculum standards, and statewide testing. Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“To all of my teachers past and present: As a senior with my graduation, state contest, and other activities on the line because of this walkout, you have my full support. I would rather suffer now, so that the future generations will not have to. You are not walking out on us. You are walking out for us.”

– Cache High School Senior Madison Marshall, in a Facebook post expressing her support for a planned teacher walkout after a visit to the State Capitol on Monday (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Caleb Gayle, The Hill

Pinning the entire blame of Oklahoma’s current circumstances on one event or one person is difficult. But the most blame sits at the desks of Mary Fallin, governor of Oklahoma and the state legislators who have protected the oil and gas industry.  Now, the state’s budget cannot accommodate for basic services like adequate education funding and decent teacher pay.

Numbers of the Day

  • 48% – Percentage decrease in initial Workers Compensation filings by injured Oklahoma workers since lawmakers overhauled the system, from 14,737 in 2012 to 7,705 in 2016
  • 47.4 – Median age in McIntosh County, the oldest county in Oklahoma (2016)
  • 213.7 – Oklahoma’s imprisonment rate per 100,000 residents for drug crimes, 2nd highest in the nation (2014)
  • 26,000 – Number of Oklahoma children without a vehicle at home, 2016
  • 56.6% – Percent of eligible voters in Oklahoma who voted in the November 2016 election

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • How Zombie Crime Stats, Phantom Stats and Frankenstats Paint a Misleading Picture on Crime [In Justice Today]
  • Trump’s hidden war on Medicaid [Vox]
  • An Economic Bill of Rights for the 21st Century [American Prospect]
  • Spooked by Trump Proposals, Immigrants Abandon Public Nutrition Services [New York Times]
  • New Trump rules will drive people with disabilities off Medicaid and out of work [USA Today]


Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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