The Weekly Wonk – March 21-25, 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 marked the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act with a post on how Oklahomans are benefiting from health care reform.  According to Families USA, 50,000 uninsured Oklahomans under the age of 26 are now eligible to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans and over 65,000 Oklahoma children with pre-existing health conditions can no longer be denied coverage by their insurance company.  Oklahoma was one of only seven states to receive a $54 million dollar Early Innovator Grant to develop a high-quality health insurance exchange that will facilitate and coordinate the purchase of insurance by individuals and small businesses beginning in 2014.  As we reported in a blog post this morning, Governor Fallin defended her decision to proceed with implementing insurance exchanges and other key elements of health care reform, telling insurance industry representatives yesterday, “I don’t like it, but it’s still the law of the land.”

We were pleased to find echoes of our own arguments in a column by State Treasurer Ken Miller in the Oklahoma Economic Report.  As we blogged about on Monday, Miller’s column “Rightsizing Matters” argued that a “base level of spending on safety, infrastructure and education provides the very foundation for a functioning free market economy.”  With the state appropriated budget now at its lowest level in 30 years and budget cuts threatening to shrink state government further still, we hope lawmakers will take notice and think seriously about the right size of state government.  Over the past two years, most agencies have seen their budgets cut by 15 percent or more.  We blogged about the toll those cuts are taking on public safety, mental health services, corrections and more here.  OK Policy Director David Blatt spoke this week about the state’s budget outlook at the Governor’s Conference on Developmental Disabilities.  A version of this presentation and other budget materials are available on our current budget information page.

Also this week, Alice Blue spoke to her experience as an immigrant and about the rich tradition of immigrant contributions to American life.  Director David Blatt and the Oklahoma Assets coalition released their first issue brief on the importance of savings, Taking it to the Bank: Promoting Savings in Oklahoma.

Numbers of the Week

  • $1 – Out of every 4 Oklahomans suffers from a mental illness or addiction disorder.
  • 272 – Total number of undocumented students enrolled in Oklahoma public higher education institutions, 2008/2009 school-year.
  • 698 – Full-time female law enforcement officers in Oklahoma in 2009.
  • 33,669 – Oklahoma births subsidized by SoonerCare in 2009; 63.9 percent of all births in the state.
  • 19 percent – Increase in the number of minority-owned businesses in Oklahoma between 1997 and 2002; compared to a 4 percent increase in all businesses.

Click here for source citations and archived numbers of the day.

In the Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blog posts.  You can sign up here to receive In the Know in your inbox each weekday morning and the Weekly Wonk each Friday afternoon.


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