The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma’s opportunity to expand health coverage

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, Policy Director Carly Putnam dove into the coverage crater and explained why it is crucial that our state expands access to care. To learn more about Oklahoma’s opportunity to expand coverage and to contact your legislators on this issue, visit our new site

After months of work by the bipartisan medical marijuana working group, Governor Stitt signed the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act — also called the “Unity Bill” — on March 14th. Mental Health Policy Analyst Lauren Turner gave us an overview of the Unity Bill and noted that this piece of legislation is just the beginning. 

This session has featured several pieces of less heralded legislation that were not on our — or most people’s — radar but that have now gained some steam. In this edition of our Bill Watch series, we look at some of the bills we are now paying closer attention to that have come from out of left field.

Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison discussed the need to help families and workers in low-wage jobs by restoring the state EITC in a NonDoc editorial. Education Policy Analyst Rebecca Fine described our public school system’s dire need for funding in a Tulsa World editorial. In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt pointed out the legislature has an opportunity to help those who have served their time to put their past behind them and become productive members of society. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update also discussed opportunities this legislature has to bend Oklahoma’s justice system toward justice

Are you or someone you know looking to be part of a team that’s fighting to make Oklahoma better for all Oklahomans? We are now accepting applications for paid, part-time or full-time internships in our Tulsa office during the Summer 2019 semester! We are also accepting applications for a budget and tax policy analyst.

OK Policy in the News

Open Justice Oklahoma Director Ryan Gentzler joined Mitchell Talks to discuss State Question 780 retroactivity. OK Policy poverty data was cited in an editorial by Lori D. Franklin in the Tulsa World.

Upcoming Opportunities

Criminal Justice Forum in Ardmore this Thursday: Join Together Oklahoma advocates in Ardmore for a forum on criminal justice. Panelists include OK Policy’s Damion Shade and others working in or advocating about Oklahoma’s criminal justice system. Click here for the full details

Health Care Forum in Tulsa this Saturday: Join Together Oklahoma advocates in Tulsa for a forum on access to health care. Panelists include Rep. Meloyde Blancett, Sen. Dave Rader, Councilwoman Lori Decter Wright, and Community Health Connection CEO Jim McCarthy. Click here for the full details

Human Community Network forum this Saturday: The Oklahoma City’s Human Community Network (HCN) will meet on Saturday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to explore and develop the “Coalition of the Underheard – Preparing the Way for 2020.” Executive Director David Blatt will be among the panelists. Click here to learn more

We’re hiring a budget and tax analyst! The application deadline for this position is Thursday, April 11, 2019. Click here to view the full job description and to apply.

2019 Summer Policy Institute: Applications are now open for our 2019 Summer Policy Institute. The application deadline is May 27th, 2019. Click here to learn more and to apply

Weekly What’s That

Earned Income Tax Credit, What’s That?

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit that subsidizes work for low-income families. The EITC the nation’s largest cash or near cash assistance program after the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). In 2015, the EITC lifted about 6.5 million people out of poverty, including about 3.3 million children, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. 

Oklahoma is one of 26 states with a state EITC, set at 5 percent of the federal credit. In 2016, the Oklahoma Legislature made the credit  non-refundable. Click here to read more.

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

Chart of the Week

Click here to see the full infographic.

Quote of the Week

“What happens is they, a lot of times, lose their job, they lose their ability to produce any kind of income and then sometimes they lose their homes. The far-reaching effects of that, sometimes their children go into DHS custody, and that is what we’re trying to obviously prevent.”

-Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, speaking about why she has introduced a bill to make bail more affordable so Oklahomans don’t end up waiting for weeks in jail before ever seeing a judge [Source: Fox 25]

Editorial of the Week

Rebecca Fine: Oklahoma parents choose public schools. It’s time to fund them.

“Our state aid formula has been starved for years, and the only solution is to feed it. State aid funding is still $180 million below funding levels in 2008. Despite arguments about our state’s need to reign in administrative spending, rolling all school administration costs into instruction wouldn’t move our per-pupil spending rank one spot closer to the Top 10. However, appropriating additional dollars to the state aid formula could. This session, legislators should heed the call to rejuvenate our public schools and invest in the choice that nearly all Oklahoma parents make for their kids.” [Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 15% – Percent decrease in Oklahoma state aid funding per student since 2008, accounting for inflation.
  • 4.7 – Mean number of days in the past 30 days adults in Oklahoma reported their mental health was not good–44th in the United States
  • 13 – Average age of first use of alcohol among Oklahoma youth.
  • $5,000 – The annual cost of drug court per participant in Oklahoma, compared to $19,000 per person for incarceration.
  • 23.7% – Number of adults in Oklahoma who have ever experienced depression. The national average is 20.5 percent

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Medicaid Expansion continues to benefit state budgets, contrary to critics’ claims. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • Nursing homes are closing across rural America, scattering residents. [New York Times]
  • A well-meaning job training bill that may hurt more than help. [New York Times]
  • Family Dollar was once considered “Amazon-proof.” Now it’s closing hundreds of stores. [Vox]
  • 1.7 million students attend schools with police but no counselors, new data show. [Education Week]


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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