The Weekly Wonk: Overcoming drought, Medicaid managed care, the 1980s, and more…

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

On the OK Policy Blog, a guest post from Martin Koch discussed strategies for overcoming drought. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam shared information about a care coordination model development for Medicaid recipients who are aged, blind, or have a disability. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis compared today’s budget crisis with one that occurred in the 1980s. 

On Wednesday, October 14, Executive Director David Blatt will present  “Oklahoma’s Budget Outlook: Is There Any Way Out of This Mess?” at a breakfast briefing with the Duncan Chamber of Commerce. Blatt’s Journal Record column described the importance of reforming civil asset forfeiture. A coalition of unlikely allies have recently come together to press for change on the issue. 

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Gene Perry spoke to OETA about how Oklahoma is trailing other states in bringing down its uninsured rate because state leadership have refused to expand health coverage to low-income Oklahomans. The track record for health coverage expansion in other states shows that it’s a good deal for Oklahoma. 

Weekly What’s That

Tax base

The number of people, the kind of property, or the types of goods and services to which a tax is applied.

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

Quote of the Week

“You’re close to the bottom of the basement, I am sorry to say, because there is no content in them. These are pious statements of academic goals. These are not standards. A standard is a criterion by which you grade something.”

-Sandra Stotsky, a former Massachusetts Department of Education official who is one of three experts brought in to help Oklahoma create new academic standards. Stotsky said Oklahoma’s current draft standards provide no guidance to teachers (Source).

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Tulsa World

“Oklahoma’s state court costs have strayed far afield from punishing bad behavior and dissuading unlawful conduct. Instead, collection of court costs has become an unrealistic, self-defeating racket that needlessly straps many offenders with overwhelming debt. They fall behind on their court costs and end up in jail, unable to pay other bills, hold a job or take care of their families.”

Numbers of the Day

  • $20.30/hr – Living wage needed to support 1 adult working full-time with 1 child in Oklahoma.
  • 9% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) spending that went to basic cash assistance in 2014.
  • 73.5¢ – How much women earn in Oklahoma for every dollar men earn, the 8th largest wage gap in the country.
  • 40.79% – Percentage of Sequoyah County, OK, residents who reported getting insufficient sleep on at least 15 of the prior 30 days, the highest of any county in the state.
  • 54.5% – Percentage of Oklahoma families receiving food stamps with children under age 18

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • How this single mom survives on $7.50 per hour [CNN].
  • If you want mental health services to prevent violence, Medicaid expansion is critical [Washington Post]. 
  • Want to end mass incarceration? Stop blindly reelecting your local prosecutor [Vox].
  • Improved measurement of worker performance is a fundamental drive of income inequality [MIT Technology Review].
  • Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion is helping the uninsured – where it’s allowed to [Huffington Post].


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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