The Weekly Wonk March 29, 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 wrote that lawmakers are pushing another unproven tax break, with no idea what it will cost. We fact-checked a legislator and found that no, school consolidation would not boost teacher salaries. We explained that Kansas is considering expanding health coverage to low-income residents, and discussed why Oklahoma should do the same.

Steve Lewis shared what’s left for the legislative session, now that we’ve reached the halfway point. Lorraine Minnite of Rutgers University discussed that while voter fraud in the US is a myth, the myth is dangerous because it’s too often used to restrict access to voting.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote in praise of the teachers who will rally for better education funding at the Capitol on Monday. In the Tulsa World, Blatt described seven things Oklahoma can do to balance its budget without damaging health, safety or economic well-being, and policy analyst Carly Putnam explained why Governor Fallin should drop her opposition to affordable health insurance if she’s serious about making Oklahoma a healthier state. OK Policy staffer and Oklahoma Assets Network coordinator Kate Richey was quoted in a NewsOK article on payday lending. Oklahoma Watch quoted Policy Director Gene Perry in an article on the Quality Jobs Program.

Upcoming Events:

  • Together Oklahoma will hold a general meeting on Thursday, April 2nd, at the Ralph Ellison Library in Oklahoma City to discuss what we can do to improve the budget situation.
  • A forum hosted by the Scholars Strategy Network will discuss balancing public engagement and an academic career on  April 6 at 6pm in the Associate’s Room in OU’s Oklahoma Memorial Union.
  • The University of Tulsa will host Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Researcher, for his lecture “Inequality in American Society – Should We Blame the Market?” on April 9 at 7pm in the Chapman Lecture Hall.
  • Oklahoma Assets Network will present “Who Pays More? A Town Hall Forum on Predatory Lending in Oklahoma” on April 15th at 6:30pm at the OU Faculty House.

Weekly What’s That:

Board of Equalization

The State Board of Equalization was established in 1907 by the Oklahoma Constitution. The Board is responsible for providing an official estimate of how much revenue will be available for the Oklahoma Legislature to budget for the coming year. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week:

“Any cuts at this point are going to be monumental simply because education has not been funded at an adequate rate for many years. There’s only so many hits that a group can take and continue to sustain.”

– Moore Public Schools Superintendent Robert Romines, on reports that the State Department of Education may receive a 2 – 4 percent budget cut this year. Oklahoma has made the deepest cuts to school funding in the US since 2008. (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

Editorial Board, The Tulsa World

Oklahoma incarcerates more offenders per capita than nearly any other state and without a commensurate increase in public safety. More than half of inmates are behind bars for nonviolent offenses, costing taxpayers nearly $20,000 per inmate annually, far more than the state spends per pupil in public schools. Most nonviolent lawbreakers could be held accountable for their crimes in a less severe and far less expensive manner with better results, including a lower recidivism rate. Limited and costly prison space should be reserved for the dangerous who put the community at risk.

Numbers of the Day:

  • 22% – Decrease in eligible voter turnout in Oklahoma from 2010 to 2014.
  • 3.5% – Percentage of Oklahoma City metro residents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, 11th lowest among the top 50 metro areas in the U.S.
  • 19% – Share of vote cast by young people (between 18-29) in Oklahoma in 2012.
  • $47,000 – Value of ornamental fish sold in Oklahoma in 2012.
  • 31.9% – Percentage of 25-34 years-olds in the Oklahoma City metro area with a 4-year degree in 2012, up from 24.4% in 2000.

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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