The Weekly Wonk: Medicaid expansion helps rural families; #CountAllKids in 2020 Census; election takeaways; and more…

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week, Policy Director Carly Putnam explained how rural families could greatly benefit from expanding Medicaid. Strategy and Communications Director Gene Perry noted that more work must be done to ensure all Oklahoman children are counted in the 2020 census. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt shared some takeaways from last Tuesday’s elections. Before the election, Steve Lewis previewed how education and health care frustration were pushing against political gravity in Oklahoma.

OK Policy in the News

The New Yorker spoke with Blatt about the spirit of the teacher walkout and its impact on election results in Oklahoma. Blatt also spoke with NewsOn6 regarding Oklahoma’s high voter turnout during Tuesday’s midterm elections, which was a huge increase from 2014 and 2010. Governing quoted Perry on the impact of State Question 801 on school administrators and boards if it had passed. KOSU cited OK Policy data in an article follow a former inmate’s journey to vote again.

Upcoming Opportunities

Save the Date for OK Policy’s 2019 State Budget Summit: Our annual State Budget Summit will take place on Thursday, January 24th, 2019 at the Downtown/Medical Center Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City. Tickets will go on sale Monday, December 10th. This year’s keynote speaker is William Julius Wilson, the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. Visit our State Budget Summit event page for more information. 

Weekly What’s That

TEFRA, What’s That?

Under Section 134 of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), states have the option to make Medicaid benefits available to children with physical or mental disabilities, regardless of family income, and allows children requiring institutional level of services to be cared for in their homes. In state fiscal  year 2017, 688 children under 21 in Oklahoma qualified for SoonerCare through TEFRA. [OK Policy]

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

Quote of the Week

“My qualifications are not just that I’m a woman, but that’s certainly important and we need more women’s voices. Our communities are a lot more diverse than the people that we’ve been sending to represent us. And when you get different viewpoints and lived experiences then we can create better legislation.”

-Kendra Horn, speaking after she became the third ever woman to be elected to Congress from Oklahoma [Source: KGOU]

Editorial of the Week

Alicia Priest: A great opportunity to help Oklahoma students

While the Legislature appropriated good raises for teachers, a decent increase for support staff and some new money for school operations, many still went back to work feeling unsatisfied. We said we would shift our focus to November. School employees and the general population helped us carry through on that promise. With 16 educators elected this year, the Education Caucus jumps from nine members to 25. They join some very strong, pro-public education incumbents to form a major force next session. [NewsOK]

Numbers of the Day

  • 435:1 – Oklahoma’s student to counselor ratio. The American School Counselor Association recommended student to counselor ratio is 250: 1
  • 9.5% – Share of senior households in Oklahoma that received SNAP food assistance in 2016.
  • $157M to $228M – Estimate for how much revenue Oklahoma lost due to unpaid use taxes on online sales in 2017.
  • $146,049,311 – Amount Oklahoma spent on private prisons and contracts in 2017.
  • 17.1% – Poverty rate for women in Oklahoma, compared to a 14.5% poverty rate for men in Oklahoma and a 14.5% poverty rate for women nationally.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • How high schools shaped American cities. [Atlantic]
  • All the ways Medicaid is on the ballot in 2018. [Vox]
  • Owning real estate has not panned out for many African-Americans. [Pew Trusts]
  • (Podcast) Who gets a Green Card? [Scholars Strategy Network]
  • Medicaid expansion states covering more addiction treatment. [AP News]


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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