The Weekly Wonk: New paper on finding work in Oklahoma; now hiring Communications Director; & 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 we launched The State of Work in Oklahoma, a new three-part paper series that sheds light on those Oklahomans who have been left behind by the economic recovery. This first paper in the series authored by Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison, Finding Work, explores the difficulty many Oklahomans encounter when looking for work. You can find the full report on our website, download the PDF here, or read the highlights on our blog.

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows tax breaks for seniors cost Oklahoma an estimated $310 million annually and do little to help the seniors most in need. Executive Director David Blatt warns that without scrutiny from lawmakers, the growing cost of senior tax breaks will add to pressures on the state budget in the years ahead.

With our Communications Director and podcast host, Gene Perry, transitioned out and Executive Director also passing the torch later this year, we decided to do something special for the 50th episode of the OK PolicyCast. Perry and Blatt sat down with former OK PolicyCast co-host, now Tulsa City Councilor, Kara Joy McKee, to talk about OK Policy’s history and future. If you’re interested in being a part of OK Policy’s future, we are now accepting applications for a new Communications Director! The deadline to apply is July 26.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Blatt was dismayed at last month’s Supreme Court ruling on partisan gerrymandering but said it may also result in new opportunities. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update noted that in better budget times, the Oklahoma legislature likes to take back control of the purse strings

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we’re featuring Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison.

OK Policy in the News

Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade spoke with Oklahoma Watch about ‘twin groups’ used by District Attorneys to push criminal justice policies. The Tulsa World included our 2019 Fall Internships opportunity in their weekly policy digest.

Upcoming Opportunities

Applications now open for OK Policy’s 2019 Fall Internships: OK Policy is now accepting applications for paid, part-time internships in our Tulsa office during the Fall 2019 semester! The deadline to apply is Sunday, July 21st.

We’re hiring for a new Communications Director: The Communications Director has primary responsibility for developing and implementing an integrated, organization-wide strategic communications plan that helps to shape policy debates and broaden awareness of OK Policy’s mission, work, and policy solutions to key audiences. The deadline to apply is midnight Friday, July 26th.

Weekly What’s That

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), what’s that?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events experienced before age 18 including all forms of child abuse, having a household member who is incarcerated, exposure to domestic violence, neglect, and having a parent with an untreated mental illness or substance use disorder. Read more about ACEs.

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

Chart of the Week

A graph on Oklahoma’s job deficit from The State of Work in Oklahoma: Finding Work by Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison. Oklahoma’s population has grown by 10.6 percent since the Great Recession began, and we should have added 170,000 jobs to keep up with that growth, as demonstrated by the dotted line on the graph.

Quote of the Week

“Low unemployment doesn’t always mean that work is easy to come by. Rural Oklahomans, people of color, and the justice-involved are all struggling with barriers to employment including a lack of educational opportunity and discrimination.”

–  Courtney Cullison, OK Policy’s Economic Security Policy Analyst, from a new paper series exploring The State of Work in Oklahoma [OK Policy]

Editorial of the Week

Dr. Gerard Clancy: New Mexico shows the way on battling opioid overdose deaths, and it starts with Medicaid expansion

New Mexico has done many of the same things we have done in Oklahoma to combat opioid overdose deaths, such as the development of closer tracking of opioid prescriptions before physicians write another prescription [and] intervening when physicians are overprescribing opioids . . . I asked what has made the difference in New Mexico’s recent improvements in opioid overdose deaths? The uniform answer from the physicians I met — full Medicaid expansion. [Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 42% – Percent of Oklahoma seniors who have not seen a dentist in over a year
  • 146,000 – Number of Oklahomans who will lose health insurance if the ACA is repealed
  • 388 – Number of Oklahomans who died of unintentional overdoses of opioids in 2017. That’s about 32 each month
  • 5,588 – Children served in fiscal year 2018 by the State Department of Education/State Department of Health SoonerStart program for infants or toddlers who have developmental delays
  • 76% – Percentage of Oklahoma women sent to prison for non-violent property and drug crimes in FY 2017.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • One-third of patients struggle with social determinants of health [Health Analytics]
  • Punishing kids with years of debt [Marshall Project]
  • Disability and technical issues were key barriers to meeting Arkansas’ Medicaid work and reporting requirements in 2018 [Kaiser Family Foundation]
  • ‘Become My Mom Again’: What it’s like to grow up amid the opioid crisis [New York Times]
  • Better schools won’t fix America [The Atlantic]


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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