The Weekly Wonk May 17, 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.

We are accepting applications to our third annual Summer Policy Institute through May 26th! College students who attend will get to dig deep on a wide range of policy issues, learn from top researchers and policymakers, and network with people with similar interests. Watch this preview to learn more.

OK Policy is excited to welcome two new board members. Andrew Tevington previously served as a top adviser to former Governor Henry Bellmon, and Felicia Collins Correia has more than 25 years of experience as CEO of major nonprofits in Tulsa. You can learn more about our board here. We’ve redesigned our website to make it mobile-friendly and more accessible. Let us know what you think here.

On the OK Policy Blog, we explain that the state budget deficit is a structural problem, and not just due to oil prices. A guest post by the Oklahoma Primary Care Association’s Steven Goldman explains how enrollment data shows that Oklahomans are actively engaging with the Affordable Care Act. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis argues that lawmakers’ habit of shuffling money around while slashing taxes is beginning to create serious problems for education, health, mental health, social services and public safety.

Nikki Hager, former OK Policy intern and Midwest regional director of the millennial advocacy group Common Sense Action, writes in the Journal Record that the Legislature’s habit of engineering short-term fixes to long-term problems is harming investment in the state. In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt explains that halting the tax cut doesn’t need a supermajority. You can read about the topic in greater detail here. The Edmond Sun quoted Blatt in a discussion of a bill to reform civil asset forfeiture in Oklahoma. Policy Director Gene Perry was quoted in a Huffington Post piece on education testing.

Weekly What’s That:

Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit that subsidizes work for low-income families. More than 26 million households will receive a total of $60 billion in reduced taxes and refunds in 2015, according to the Tax Policy Center, making the EITC the nation’s largest cash or near cash assistance program after the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Read more.

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

Quote of the Week:

“Instead of taking advantage of a healthy economy to address the structural issues in the budget, each year the Oklahoma Legislature continues to pursue short-term solutions to long-term problems. This generationally irresponsible strategy fails to prevent future imbalances while reducing investment in Oklahoma’s future.”

-Nikki Hager, the Midwest regional director of millennial advocacy group Common Sense Action and a previous OK Policy intern (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

Editorial Board, The Oklahoman

One idea that appears especially short-sighted would fund teacher pay raises by raiding teacher retirement funds. Under that proposal, lawmakers would grant teachers a $1,000 pay raise by diverting money away from teacher pensions. …Basically, lawmakers would rob Peter to pay Paul. Worse yet, Halligan’s plan would resume past practices that made Oklahoma’s teachers’ retirement system one of the worst-funded in the nation. For years, lawmakers diverted money from the system, leaving it ever-less financially stable.

Numbers of the Day:

  • 12.57 inches – The amount of rain recorded in the last 7 days at the Minco, OK Mesonet station, the highest in the state.
  • $3,671 – The 2014 state spending per child enrolled in pre-K in Oklahoma, down nearly 25 percent from 2010
  • 30 – The number of mine-resistant vehicles owned by Oklahoma law enforcement through a program that allows the military to transfer surplus equipment to law enforcement agencies.
  • 9,121 – The years of potential life lost before age 75 per 100,000 of the population in Oklahoma. The US median is 7,681.
  • 10,105 students – The drop in enrollment at Oklahoma colleges and universities over the past year, a decrease of 5.5% between Spring 2014 and Spring 2015.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

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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