The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma and Indian education, fees and forfeiture, and more

the_weekly_wonkWhat’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

Things were pretty quiet on the OK Policy Blog this week, as OK Policy staff were running our third annual Summer Policy Institute through Wednesday. You can check out the activity with the hashtag #okspi on Twitter. This week, summer intern Bah-He-Toya-Mah Davenport explained how the state is slowly beginning to turn around its tragic history of Indian education. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis outlined the problems that are created with district attorneys have to fund themselves with fees and forfeitures.

We Want You (and/or Your Students)

A range of exciting opportunities with OK Policy are available this month:

  • College students are invited to apply for our fall internship and research fellowship. The internship is available to any student enrolled in an Oklahoma college with at least four semesters of credit who can travel to Tulsa at least once per week. Internships are paid, and are available for both research and advocacy. Research fellowships are available to graduate students. Research Fellows are each expected to prepare a blog post on issues related to their research in the fall and to conduct a legislative bill analysis in the spring. OK Policy provides each fellow a stipend. Click here to learn more about these opportunities and how to apply. The application deadline for the internships and research fellowships is Friday, August 28th.
  • OK Policy is also hiring a full-time policy analyst to conduct research and analysis on issues of economic opportunity and financial security affecting low- and moderate-income Oklahomans. The position will also involve substantial work with the Oklahoma Assets Network, a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations led by OK Policy working to build stronger financial foundations for all Oklahomans. Click here to see more about the job description and how to apply. The application deadline for the policy analyst position is close of business on Monday, August 24th.

OK Policy in the News

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt shared how the annual Summer Policy Institute reminded him that young people in Oklahoma are passionate about building community and creating change. Policy Director Gene Perry and OCPA vice president for strategic initiatives Trent England co-authored an op-ed calling for reform to the state’s civil assets forfeiture law.

OK Policy Board member and Kaiser-Francis CFO Don Millican called on the Governor to drop her opposition to expanding health coverage for low-income Oklahomans. In the Tulsa Voice, Barry Friedman quoted Blatt’s arguments for a better fiscal policy in recounting a conversation that took place amidst long lines at the DMV.

Weekly What’s That

Ad Valorem Exemptions (Property Tax Exemptions)

Oklahoma provides partial or full exemptions from ad valorem taxes for various categories of homeowners. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Our governor says she wants to address the issue of uninsured medical care through an ‘Oklahoma Plan.’ We’re waiting. If it is SoonerCare and Insure Oklahoma, it is not working. We continue to have over 500,000 uninsured using our emergency rooms for their primary care, and we continue to refuse $10.5 billion in our tax dollars being returned to our state.”

-Don Millican, Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. chief financial officer and OK Policy board member (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

Elizabeth Harris, The Tulsa World

Voting is a source of power. Whether by virtue of being a white male property owner or whether fought for through amendments to the Constitution as was the case for blacks, women and people age 18, the U.S. Constitution gives you a piece of power to make changes in our government. If you fail to cast your vote, you are relinquishing your power to make a difference and submitting to those who do cast their votes.

Numbers of the Day

  • -80.4% – How much Oklahoma’s revenue from gross production taxes on oil and gas drilling ($6.5 million) came in below the state’s official estimate ($33.1 million) in FY 2015.
  • 87.0% – Percentage of four-year-olds in Oklahoma enrolled in state Pre-K, Preschool Special Education, and State and Federal Head Start, 2013. The national average is 40.1%.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

What We’re Reading

  • State income tax cuts are still a bad idea [Brookings Institution].
  • Many Americans view government aid as a zero-sum contest — something they will not get if someone else does [Governing].



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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