The Weekly Wonk: May 3, 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 examined a new teacher rating system the state may adopt that evaluates teachers using a “value-added model” based on student test scores. We explained how a House bill could threaten Oklahoma’s Promise, an early commitment financial aid program that covers tuition for low-income students.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis describes ties the current budget shortfall to a similar scenario in 1985. We shared a video that evaluates the Affordable Care Act on its on its fifth birthday.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt points out that a growing state share of Medicaid costs is due a strong state economy, not federal cost-shifting or broken promises. He’s written more about the topic here. Blatt will present “The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy” at Up With Trees’ May meeting on Wednesday, May 6th. An op-ed in the Tulsa World cited OK Policy data while arguing in favor of smarter, more efficient criminal justice reform.

Upcoming Opportunities

  • We are seeking summer interns! Full- and part-time positions are available, and all are paid. Applicants should be current students at college or university who have completed at least four semesters of credit, or be pursuing a graduate degree. We are happy to work with an institution’s requirements for academic credit. The application deadline is May 5th.
  • We are also now accepting applications for the 2015 Summer Policy Institute (SPI), an intensive, four-day program for undergraduate and graduate students interested in public policy on August 2-5, 2015 in Tulsa. Find out more about SPI with our new video preview! The application deadline is May 26th. 

Weekly What’s That:


Coinsurance” (or co-insurance) is an insurance term that means splitting or spreading risk among multiple parties. Expressed as a percentage, it describes what portion of health care costs will be paid by an insurance company… Read more.

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

Quote of the Week:

“Those state agencies that serve to safeguard Oklahoma’s children require adequate funding in order to perform their duties. Oklahoma needs to make certain tax regulations and reforms are in place that ensure revenue will not be reduced and a budget that can be balanced. A stand-still budget, much less budget cuts, will not provide Oklahoma with the foundation it needs to build capacity nor to provide strong infrastructure, safe communities and healthy, thriving children. Agency improvement and policy changes are ineffective without a financial commitment by the state of Oklahoma to affect positive change.”

– The opening paragraph of the Oklahoma Child Death Review Board 2015 Recommendations. The Child Death Review Board is a statutorily-created entity within the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth to reduce the number of preventable child deaths. (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

Julie DelCour, The Tulsa World

Oklahoma is in the midst of another Great Depression, but this time the crisis reflects an emotional downturn rather than a purely economic one.

I use the word “crisis” because it’s the only adequate description for Oklahomans’ enormous mental health issues.Oklahoma ranks No. 3 nationally in adults — 22.4 percent — suffering from mental illness. It is No. 2 in residents — 12 percent — dealing with various addictions. From 700,000 to 950,000 Oklahomans are affected by mental illness.

These staggering numbers have personal and public consequences.

Numbers of the Day:

  • 17,236 The number of uninsured Oklahomans with a serious mental health disorder who could receive treatment if the state accepted federal funds to expand health coverage.
  • $18.4 million – Total spending by visitors to national parks in Oklahoma in 2014.
  • 9,685 – Number of bison in captivity in Oklahoma in 2012.
  • 3,300 – Number of uninsured veterans in Oklahoma with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level who have a mental illness.
  • 442 – Number of newly diagnosed chlamydia cases per 100,000 in Oklahoma in 2012. The US median was 291.

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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