The Weekly Wonk: OK PolicyCast with DeVon Douglass, new leadership at #okleg, and occupational license reform

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

In a new episode of the OK PolicyCast, Strategy & Communications Director Gene Perry spoke with DeVon Douglass, the Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Tulsa, about the work her team is doing to take on Tulsa’s toughest challenges, from teen homelessness to deep inequities in housing, transportation, and education.

In this week’s Capitol Update, Steve Lewis noted that how well the entire Legislature can function for the people will depend on how the new Senate leadership and the House leadership – and their members – can work together.

Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison assessed the progress made in regards to occupational licensing in Oklahoma, noting that although we’ve made some steps in the right direction, there’s still a long way to go in reforming occupational licensing in Oklahoma.

David Blatt’s Journal Record column looked at how Oklahoma’s tax policy discussion has changed dramatically over the past six years.

OK Policy in the News

Oklahoma Watch used OK Policy data in a report that shows the length of a jail stay for low level charges depends on the county. OK Policy joined 50 activists, community leaders, elected officials, and the family of Terence Crutcher in a letter to Tulsa Mayor G.T. Baynum and city councilors demanding that the city act immediately to address racial disparities in police practices. 

Upcoming Opportunities

Join us this Wednesday to welcome Harvard Professor and prize-winning scholar, Danielle Allen, for a compelling conversation on her powerful book, Cuz, and mass incarceration in the United States. We hope to see you this Wednesday, June 6 at 7 PM at the TCC Center for Creativity for Black Lives Lost: An Evening with Danielle Allen.

Weekly What’s That

Federal Poverty Level

The federal poverty level (FPL) is a measure of income issued annually by the Department of Health and Human Services that is used to determine eligibility for various public programs and benefits, including Medicaid, health insurance premium tax credits, the free- and reduced- school lunch program, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and many others.The federal poverty level, which takes into account family size, is $12,140 for a single individual and $25,100 for a family of four in 2018. It is widely accepted that the federal poverty level does not accurately reflect the amount of income needed to meet one’s basic needs. Click here to read more. 

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

Quote of the Week

“During this time, the very same politicians who claimed that you could eliminate the income tax without raising other taxes or cutting services have lost faith in the supposedly magical powers of tax cuts. They have come to accept that one-sided fiscal policies have contributed to a growing structural budget deficit and an unsustainable reliance on non-recurring revenues.”

–OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt, discussing how Oklahoma Republican lawmakers’ approach to tax policy has changed over the last six years [Journal Record].

Editorial of the Week

Wayne Greene: In the Land of Magical Thinking, We Aren’t Undertaxed, We’re Underaudited

Here’s the hard truth: Oklahoma’s problem isn’t that it is underaudited; it’s that it’s undertaxed. Audits are important and relatively cheap. More and better audits would be a good thing. The fiasco at the state Health Department is the current object of scrutiny and for good reason. But chances are, when the dust settles, we aren’t going to find a treasure trove of revenue to pay for teacher pay raises. We’re going to find that state government is endemically underfunded, occasionally mismanaged and prone to error like all human endeavors [Tulsa World].

Numbers of the Day

  • 34.6% – Percentage of Oklahoma adults who reported having a poor mental health status in 2016
  • 52% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s FY 2019 state appropriations that went to common education, higher education, or Career Tech
  • 28.7% – Percentage of jobs in Oklahoma that are low-wage (median annual pay below poverty threshold for a family of four)
  • 1,778 – Number of business establishments in the 73013 Zip Code in Edmond, the most of any Zip Code in Oklahoma

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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