The Weekly Wonk: Our 2018 book recommendations; college for incarcerated Oklahomans; budget summit tickets on sale; and 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

In this week’s episode of the OKPolicyCast, Strategy and Communications Director Gene Perry sat down with our policy analysts to discuss the 2018 OK Policy Holiday Gift Guide and their favorite policy-related books of the year. Data Analyst Intern Anna Rouw demonstrated how funding postsecondary education opportunities for incarcerated Oklahomans could pay off for public safety and the budget.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discussed the latest Open Justice Oklahoma report which showed that State Question 780 is working as intended to significantly reduce the number of Oklahomans who are charged with felonies. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update gave us a glimpse of what we can expect now that the legislative deadline to make bill requests has passed.

Upcoming Opportunities

Tickets for our 6th Annual State Budget Summit are now on sale! Last year Oklahoma made major progress in putting its financial affairs on the right track, but we still have a long road to travel to reverse years of cuts to public services. As Oklahoma’s 2019 legislative session approaches, now is the time to put forward a vision of what broad-based prosperity that benefits all Oklahomans looks like. The 2019 State Budget Summit will be on Thursday, January 24th, 2019 in Oklahoma City, and early-bird registration is available until January 11th. The keynote speaker will be William Julius Wilson, the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. Click here to purchase your tickets and for more information.

Weekly What’s That

Copayment, What’s That?

A copayment is a payment defined in an insurance policy and paid by the insured each time a medical service is accessed. For example, some plans will charge $4 for a prescription, or $20 for an office visit. Copayments do not typically contribute to an out-of-pocket maximum. While copayments can be used to make sure the insured does not needlessly access medical service, copayments that constitute a cost-burden (the exact amount of which may vary tremendously across populations) can prevent the insured from accessing needed health care.

Insurance companies may use tiered copayment systems to encourage the insured to access lower-cost drugs, such as generic alternatives to name-brand medications, by charging lower copayments for preferred medications.

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

Quote of the Week

“I don’t think it’s an accident they proliferate in low socio-economic and African American communities. That proliferation makes it more difficult for the full-service, healthy stores to set up shop, and operate successfully.”

-Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, speaking about her efforts to limit the growth of dollar stores and bring a healthy grocery store to north Tulsa [Source: Institute for Local Self-Reliance]

Editorial of the Week

Elizabeth E. Smith: Inadequate school funding causes difficult choices for schools and teacher

In preparation for a family trip to the Capitol in April to support the teacher walkout, my then 9-year-old told me about the sign she wanted to make: “I want to tell the lawmakers that I deserve the same opportunities that kids get in other states.” She settled on, “Am I worth $2,200 less than a student in Kansas?” Once at the Capitol, she and her brother (6 years old at the time) shared their hopes for what more funding could bring with legislators, teachers and reporters: more teachers, field trips, a STEM lab, and renovations for their school’s gym. [Source: Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 77% – The percentage decrease of paroles in Oklahoma from 2008 to 2017.
  • 55% – Percentage of Oklahomans who live in a “child care desert”, where there are more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots.
  • 12,277 – Number of people in Arkansas who have been cut from Medicaid since the state implemented its policy to terminate health coverage for people who don’t meet a rigid work and reporting requirement.
  • 1 in 83 – The number of people on probation or parole in Oklahoma in 2016 per capita.
  • 18% – Percentage of school districts in Oklahoma that do not offer Fine Arts classes.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • America’s health-care system is making the opioid crisis worse. [The Atlantic]
  • How Marsy’s Law performed in the 2018 midterm elections. [Vox]
  • Lack of housing and mental health disabilities exacerbate one another. [Center for American Progress]
  • Bumped Out: When pregnant women are fired or discriminated against in the workplace, the federal government isn’t very good at protecting them. [Governing]
  • For the poor, Obamacare can reduce late rent payments. [City Labs]


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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