The Weekly Wonk: Our take on budget deal; new video on coverage expansion; & 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

On Wednesday, Republican leaders announced they had reached agreement on an $8.3 billion state budget. That budget has already been approved by the House and will likely go to a final vote in the Senate early this week. In a statement, we shared that the budget brings welcome progress in a few areas but also includes many missed opportunities. We’ll have a much deeper dive on the budget soon. Here’s an update on other bills we’re following.

This week we released another video on coverage expansion: the story of a man who received life-saving treatment thanks to Medicaid expansion in Colorado. We also published his story on NonDoc. Policy Director Carly Putnam answered some of the most common questions surrounding coverage expansion. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update reminded us that even after years of delay, health coverage expansion is still in the waiting room. Take Action: Tell your legislators why you support expanding health coverage in Oklahoma.

An infusion of federal dollars into Oklahoma’s child care subsidy program has resulted in higher reimbursement rates for child care providers and better access for families. Education Policy Analyst Rebecca Fine noted that investing in quality child care is also a smart decision for the economic vitality of Oklahoma, because it allows parents to keep working and better support their families.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discussed concerns about the citizenship question being proposed to the 2020 Census. 

Over the past few years, OK Policy has grown a lot. From humble beginnings in 2008, we now have a staff of 19. To give you a better idea of who we are and what we all do, we are running a series highlighting our staffers. To begin the series, here’s Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator Sabine Brown.

OK Policy in the News

The Journal Record shared news of Paul Shinn’s hiring by OK Policy as a Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst. Tulsa World Editor Wayne Green referenced OK Policy’s opposition to a proposal by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to cut SoonerCare coverage from patients who have returned mail. The Oklahoman Editorial Board referenced OK Policy’s statement on the state budget deal.

Upcoming Opportunities

Just over one week left to apply for the 2019 Summer Policy Institute: “The information was comprehensive, and the guest speakers were amazing. My favorite part of SPI were the panel discussions that included professionals with differing perspectives on a wide range of topics.” -Lily DeFrank, Masters in Social Work, OU. The deadline to apply is Monday, May 27.

Weekly What’s That

General Appropriations Bill, What’s That?

The General Appropriations (GA) bill is an annual bill approved by the Legislature that funds the ongoing operations of state agencies for the next budget year.

The GA bill has two features that distinguish it from other legislation: (1) It does not need an emergency clause to become effective July 1. (2) It may include funding for multiple government functions and agencies. Click here to read more about the General Appropriations Bill

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

Quote of the Week

“If we aren’t open, where do these people go?” … “They’ll go to the cemetery. If we’re not here, these people don’t have time. They’ll die along with this hospital.”

-Employees at Fairfax Community Hospital, who worked without pay for nearly 4 months as the hospital struggled to stay open [Washington Post]

Editorial of the Week

Oklahoma is once again looking to cancel health care for poor children if their mail is returned deliverable

It looks like the state really is going to cut off health care to poor Oklahomans — most of them children — if they can’t be reached by mail. This time, we can blame the federal government. Using returned mail to verify Medicaid eligibility is an idea that fundamentally misunderstands the nature of poverty, homelessness, mental illness and the way people communicate in the 21st century. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World].

Numbers of the Day

  • 50.7% – Percentage of children in Adair County who are American Indian, the most of any county in Oklahoma
  • 27.3%– Percent decrease in licensed child care centers in Oklahoma since 2010
  • 2,644 – Number of reported internet based crimes in Oklahoma in 2018
  • 7 in 10 – Minimum wage workers in Oklahoma who are women
  • 21,216 – Number of people seen by mental health staff at Oklahoma County Jail with diagnosed mental health needs from May 1st of 2018 to May 1st of 2019

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Researchers say there’s a simple way to reduce suicides: Increase the minimum wage. [Washington Post]
  • Thousands of Americans are jailed before trial. A new report shows its lasting impact. [Vox]
  • Since 2008, only high-income people have seen their housing costs drop. [CityLab]
  • Opioid addiction drug going mostly to whites, even as black death rate rises. [NPR]
  • The danger private school voucher programs pose to civil rights. [American Progress]


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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