The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma’s new economic ranking; 2019 Legislative Primer; how new Legislature is unlike others; & 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, Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison published an analysis of Oklahoma’s economic ranking in the Prosperity Now Scorecard, which dropped for the third consecutive year. We also released our 2019 Legislative Primer to help veteran advocates and political novices alike stay informed and actively engaged during the upcoming legislative session.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt showed us how this new Legislature is unlike others in the past — and why that’s a reason for hope. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed how the sale of the state airplane is low hanging fruit for a new governor who wants to show he’s frugal with taxpayer money.

OK Policy in the News

FOX 25 reported on the 2019 Prosperity Now Scorecard and included our proposed policy solutions. The Muskogee Phoenix Editorial Board cited OK Policy in its editorial calling on lawmakers to restore the earned income tax credit. The Journal Record‘s Russel Ray quoted Blatt on a bill that would boost the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour. In her Tulsa World column, Ginnie Graham cited our report on inequities in fine arts education in public schools. Talk Business & Politics cited OK Policy on the annual revenue loss from cuts to Oklahoma’s top income tax rate. 

Upcoming Opportunities

Protect families in Oklahoma against predatory lending: Oklahoma has the highest payday loan usage rate in the country, and the average customer took out six loans over the course of a year. Learn more about how predatory loans are affecting Oklahomans and how you can become an advocate for change by joining Together Oklahoma in Lawton on Monday, February 4th or VOICE OKC on Wednesday, February 6. Both groups will be screening “Let My People Go: South Dakotans Stop Predatory Lending” and discussing how to advocate for better lending practices.

Applications for our paid Communications Internship are due this Wednesday: As an OK Policy communications intern, you will have opportunities to be part of many different aspects of our work. The internship is a paid, part-time position in our Tulsa office, and runs from late-February 2019 through the end of the year. Applications are due no later than 5:00 PM on Wednesday, February 6th. Click here to learn more and to submit your application

Weekly What’s That

Title I, What’s What?

Title I is a section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that provides federal funds to local school districts and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. Title I is meant to ensure that all children receive a high-quality education and reach proficiency on State academic achievement standards assessments. Federal funds are split up based on Census poverty estimates and the cost of education in each state.

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

Quote of the Week

“I think it’s immoral to require a district attorney to be a fee collector to keep my doors open. The fact that I have to collect a fee from somebody I’m prosecuting and putting on probation, I shouldn’t have to be put in that spot. My job should be public safety and applying facts to law.”

-Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, calling on Oklahoma to reduce reliance on court fees to fund district attorney offices [Source: Tulsa World]

Editorial of the Week

Muskogee Phoenix Editorial Board: Restoring credit for working families should be prioritized

While some lawmakers may be tempted to boost funding for projects unfunded during Oklahoma’s budget-busting revenue drought, a better option might be to make the state’s earned income tax credit refundable again. State tax laws provide numerous breaks for businesses and those who earn high incomes. When it comes to looking out for low- and moderate-income working families, similar breaks are practically nonexistent. [Muskogee Phoenix]

Numbers of the Day

  • 7.4% – Percentage of Oklahoma workers who were represented by unions in 2018
  • $15,667 – Average annual salary of cooks and food preparers in Oklahoma public schools.
  • 63.3% – Percentage of Oklahoma households that have a savings account, 46th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 76.8% – 4-year cohort graduate rate for economically disadvantaged Oklahoma students in school year 2016-17, compared to an 82.6% graduate rate for all Oklahoma students.
  • $16.7 Million – The projected annual cost savings of full implementation of the administrative parole reform created by HB 2286 in 2018.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • In rehab, “two warring factions”: abstinence vs. medication. [New York Times]
  • Conservative health care experiment leads to thousands losing coverage. [Politico]
  • Millions of college students are going hungry. [The Atlantic]
  • 10 years later, goal of getting more Americans through college is way behind schedule. [The Hechinger Report]
  • In rural America, there are few people left to drive the ambulances. [New Yorker]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, she immigrated to Oklahoma with her family at a young age and obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma, a community organization dedicated to advocating and empowering immigrant youth in the state.

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