The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma trails in fighting poverty, covering uninsured

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

This week, Policy Director Gene Perry crunched new Census Bureau data and found that Oklahoma continues to trail the nation in fighting poverty and covering the uninsured. Steve Lewis explained that attorneys in the child welfare system may not be prepared for the job, and that  lawmakers are asking for agency budget requests that reflect the state funding situation, rather than what the agencies actually need.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that this year’s budget shortfall will be a dreary sequel to this year’s funding dilemma. Tyler Parette has joined OK Policy as our first Outreach and Operations Associate. 


Please join us for our first-ever OK Policy Fall Policy Institute (FallPol) on Saturday, October 3rd, at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond! Designed for emerging professionals, advocates, educators, volunteers and more, this one-day training will deliver a solid overview of significant policy issues in Oklahoma. Click here to learn more.

OK Policy in the News

The blog okeducationtruths featured our Quote of the Day while disputing an op-ed on school funding. Policy analyst Carly Putnam was featured in an OETA segment on the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s 2015 Kids Count Conference. KFOR cited OK Policy in a discussion of a report on inexperienced teachers in Oklahoma City Public Schools. Breitbart quoted OK Policy work on judicial elections in their coverage of the Ten Commandments controversy

Weekly What’s That

Tax expenditures

Tax expenditures are subsidies and other tax breaks usually created to achieve a specific purpose. They’re called expenditures because they amount to government spending through the tax code. Read more

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

Quote of the Week

“When you are 1,000 teachers short, you have to think about how that affects our children. We are talking about 25,000 to 30,000 kids without a permanent teacher.”

-Oklahoma’s State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who is calling for the Legislature to raise salaries and reduce testing to combat the state’s growing teacher shortage (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

Ryan Owens & Steven Crawford of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, The Tulsa World

“Our state leaders know that current education funding levels are insufficient to provide appropriate services to students. In order to offer flexibility to local schools to address this state-imposed financial crisis, our legislature has voted to maintain a suspension on class size requirements, the requirement to purchase textbooks, and the requirement to make library and media expenditures at our local schools. … While the flexibility has been needed, the result is that we are now in the sixth year of this moratorium and all Oklahoma students from the 5th grade down have experienced nothing but funding cuts, overcrowded classrooms, and fewer courses while in Oklahoma’s public schools.”

Numbers of the Day

  • 70.6 – Birth rate per 1,000 for women ages 15-44 in Oklahoma in 2013, the 8th-highest in the US.
  • 6,056,081  – Number of meals provided to Oklahoma seniors by the state Department of Human Services in SFY 2014.
  • 50 percent – Percentage of women killed by men in Oklahoma who were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders, 2013.
  • 68.2% – Percentage of pregnant women in Oklahoma who received prenatal care beginning in the first trimester, trailing the national average of 73.1 percent.
  • 91.9% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s Kindergarten to 12th grade students who were enrolled in a public school in 2014.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • It’s expensive to be poor. Here’s why low-income Americans often have to pay more [The Economist].
  • The Affordable Care Act is likely to spur an increase in the diagnoses – and treatment – of chronic disease [US News & World Report]. 
  • Fifty-three percent of Jeb Bush’s tax cuts would go to the top 1 percent [Vox]. 
  • The impact of mass incarceration on Black families is extensive and horrifying [The Atlantic]. 
  • The new overtime proposal is a win for working women [MomsRising].



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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