The Weekly Wonk: New mental health policy fellowship; paid Fall internship with OK Policy; No job? No doctor…

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

It was another exciting week for the OK Policy team with the launch of a new fellowship program and preparations for our annual Summer Policy Institute. For followers of our daily news brief,  In The Know will go on hiatus next week while we host our annual Summer Policy Institute, but you can follow what’s happening on Twitter with the hashtag #okspi. In The Know will return Thursday, August 2nd.

In response to the critical needs in Oklahoma’s mental health care and addiction services, OK Policy announced a new fellowship program to prepare early-career professionals to become highly competent advocates for impactful policy reform. In addition to the Mental Health Policy Fellowship, OK Policy will add a new Mental Health Policy Analyst and Fellowship Coordinator position. The deadline to apply for both positions is August 13. 

This week we also began accepting applications for paid, part-time internships in our Tulsa office during the Fall 2018 semester. In Episode 34 of the OK PolicyCast, Strategy and Communications Director Gene Perry spoke with Policy Director Carly Putnam and Hannah Katch from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities about the plan to take SoonerCare away from patients who are unable to work or report enough hours a week. 

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column explored the shifting landscape in Oklahoma politics and asked if Oklahoma was still a conservative state. In his Capitol Update, Seve Lewis lamented the loss of an experienced lawmaker with the resignation of AJ Griffin.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to the Tulsa World about Oklahoma’s historic deposit in the Rainy Day Fund. 

Upcoming Opportunities

In Three Days: Join us and Magic City Books to host award-winning scholar Kendra Field. Kendra will be in conversation with local author and attorney, Hannibal Johnson, Wednesday, August 1 at 7 PM. Following the lead of her own ancestors, Kendra Field’s epic family history chronicles the westward migration of freedom’s first generation in the fifty years after emancipation. Drawing on decades of archival research and family lore within and beyond the United States, Field traces their journey out of the South to Indian Territory, where they participated in the development of black and black Indian towns and settlements. Find all the details on the Facebook event page

In Five Days: August 3rd is the deadline to apply for Open Justice Oklahoma’s justice data analyst position. OJO seeks to open the black box of our justice system, providing a broad, data-based perspective never before possible. Visit OJO’s website to read the full job announcement.

Also in Five Days: August 3rd is also the deadline to register to vote in the August runoffs. For a full list of deadlines and additional voting resources, visit our Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections page.

Weekly What’s That

Rainy Day Fund, What’s That?

The Rainy Day Fund (formally known as the Constitutional Reserve Fund) was created in 1985 in response to a dramatic revenue downturn. It is designed to collect extra funds when times are good and to spend those funds when revenues cannot support ongoing state operations.

Money flows in to the Rainy Day Fund when revenue is more than estimated. Any General Revenue Fund collections beyond 100 percent of the estimated amount must be deposited into the Rainy Day Fund, until the Fund reaches its cap of 15 percent of the current revenue estimate for the General Revenue Fund. Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“How do you put Medicaid recipients to work? The first thing you do is remove the obstacles that prevent them from working. Raising new obstacles by taking away their health care coverage doesn’t help. That only makes them poorer and sicker … less likely to work … and more likely to show up at Tulsa emergency rooms for uncompensated treatment when their illnesses reaches a crisis.”

-Tulsa World Editor Wayne Greene, writing about Oklahoma’s push to deny health care to parents who don’t complete strict work and reporting requirements [Tulsa World].

Editorial of the Week

Arnold Hamilton: Health care, policymakers and lousy governing principle

“The fact is, Oklahoma can’t afford not to accept Medicaid expansion. Improved overall health helps create a larger, more productive workforce and more taxpayers. Sadly, too many lawmakers and candidates still think we’re better off kicking as many as possible off SoonerCare. That’s nonsense. Access to health care gives us a fighting chance to create a healthier state and limits taxpayer exposure to the ever-climbing cost of uncompensated care…Think about it: Nearly one in five Oklahomans are uninsured – about 668,000, according to the Urban Institute. That problem is particularly acute in rural areas where, the Center for Rural Affairs’ Jordan Rasmussen notes, ‘the limited availability of health care providers and facilities, greater travel distances, and limited financial resources make access to care challenging'” [Journal Record].

Numbers of the Day

  • 79.4 – Percentage of Oklahoma households receiving SNAP benefits that included at least one worker in the previous 12 months (FY 2016)
  • 15.2% – Share of all state income taken home by the wealthiest 1% of households in Oklahoma, 2015
  • 19% – Decline in Tulsa County’s teen births from 2016 to 2017, significantly more than the overall statewide decrease (11 percent)
  • 1,238 – Number of emergency teaching certifications granted by the State Department of Education for the 2018-2019 school year. At this time last year, 874 emergency certifications had been granted for the 2017-2018 school year
  • 38 – Number of federally recognized tribes in Oklahoma, more than any other state except California

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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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