The Weekly Wonk March 1, 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 discussed what Gov. Fallin’s goals for the state government tell us about current conditions in Oklahoma, from health coverage to incarceration. We shared State Treasurer Ken Miller’s suggestion that the state avoid making tax cuts it can’t pay for. We also explained what the Rainy Day Fund is and how it could be used to alleviate this year’s budget hole.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis explained how cutting taxes when energy prices were high may have left the state coffers little to work with now that energy prices are falling. Outreach Specialist Kara Joy McKee suggested seven ways to get your legislators’ attention.

On the OK PolicyCast, we talked with OK Policy staffer and Oklahoma Assets Network Coordinator Kate Richey about her research into payday lending in Oklahoma and how it can trap families in a vicious cycle of debt. Oklahoma Assets will host a Town Hall Forum on predatory lending in Oklahoma at the OU Faculty House in Oklahoma City on March 4. You can find out more and RSVP here.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discussed how the double whammy of a sagging economy and misguided tax policies have left the state struggling to meet basic needs. Blatt and Jonathan Small of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs discussed the state’s budget hole at KOSU’s monthly On Tap.  Al Jazeera America spoke with Blatt about dwindling education funding in Oklahoma. The Tulsa World described Legislative Liaison Damario Solomon-Simmons’ mentoring program

Weekly What’s That?

Franchise Tax

Oklahoma levies a franchise tax on all corporations or associations doing business in the state. Corporations are taxed $1.25 for each $1,000 of capital invested or otherwise used in Oklahoma up to a maximum levy of $20,000 (foreign corporations are additionally assessed $100 per year). Read more here.

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

Quote of the Week:

“The greatest threat to public education in our state today isn’t poverty. And it’s most certainly not the federal government. The greatest threat to Oklahoma public education is the people elected to represent Oklahomans and Oklahoma’s children. They have opted for feel-good rhetoric over hard work. They’ve opted to pick winners and losers among our children instead of providing hope and support for all. They’ve taken the path of least political resistance instead of charging headstrong toward the right and noble goal of great schools for every child. Oklahomans should not stand for it.”

– Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu, urging legislators to better prioritize state support for public education (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

John Waldron, The Tulsa World

The issue of the AP course is part of a broad pattern of assault on common education in Oklahoma. We lead the nation in cuts to education. We face further cuts this year — whatever the governor says — given the looming revenue issues. Our professional associations are threatened with new and more destructive bills in every legislative session. And an ever more intrusive clique of politicians and special interests want to dictate what we can and cannot teach our children. Is it any wonder we have trouble finding and training new teachers? It’s all of a piece.

After all, a Legislature that offers nothing but “hoodie” bills, endless cuts to core services and tax breaks for the wealthy and for corporations has every reason to fear classes that teach young Oklahomans to think critically.

Numbers of the Day:

  • 39th – Oklahoma’s place in Gallup’s 2014 State Well-Being Ranking
  • 19.70% – Percentage of Tulsa County residents who claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit in 2012. The average amount was $2,307
  • 75.1% – Percentage of black male secondary students in Oklahoma City Public Schools who were suspended at least once in 2011-12, the highest suspension rate in the nation.
  • $351,319 – Amount awarded to 17 Oklahoma health centers under the Affordable Care Act’s Health Center Quality Improvement FY 2015 Grant Awards.
  • 2,388 – Total number of llamas in Oklahoma in 2012.

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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