The Weekly Wonk: Private school vouchers, wealth at risk, and more…

the_weekly_wonkWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly W onk 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

We’re pleased to welcome DeVon Douglass to the OK Policy team! DeVon will work on issues surrounding economic opportunity and financial security, and coordinate the Oklahoma Assets Network. On Thursday, Legislative Liaison Damario Solomon-Simmons was honored with the Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher Diversity Award at the Oklahoma Bar Association Diversity Dinner. 

On the OK Policy Blog, Policy Director Gene Perry explained how the fight over the Ten Commandments on display at the state capitol could be a back door to private school vouchers. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis reported on recent reshufflings regarding the Pinnacle Plan. Former OK Policy Research Fellow Ryan Gentzler illustrated why the wealth of college-educated minorities is especially vulnerable. 

OK Policy in the News

The Lawton Constitution covered Blatt’s budget briefing at a forum organized by the Duncan Chamber of Commerce. Perry spoke to NewsOK on declining education funding. Perry was also featured in an OETA segment on education funding. Writing in the Journal Record, Arnold Hamilton quoted OK Policy in a discussion of proposed tax reforms

Weekly What’s That

Revenue Estimates

Oklahoma makes official revenue estimates that determine how much the Legislature is allowed to appropriate in its annual budget for state agencies. The Legislature is limited to appropriating no more than 95 percent of estimated collections. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Machinists need to know trigonometry, advanced math — they’re running automated computerized equipment and they do the programming for the machines. Even welders are calculating angles and degrees to do cuts and welds.”

– Chuck Mills, President of Mills Machine Co. in Shawnee,  who said Oklahoma needs to do a better job of preparing kids for entering the workforce by teaching math skills (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

David Boren, The Oklahoman

“In short, our state faces one of its greatest crises. Our failure to invest in education will inevitably lead to economic decline. Businesses demand a skilled and educated workforce. Business leaders insist on good public schools for their own children to attend. Entrepreneurs need an expanding research base at comprehensive universities as a springboard for growth. We now rank 49th in the nation in funding per student.”

Numbers of the Day

  • 17.1% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s civilian employed population that works in service occupations.
  • 39.0% – The share of full-time, full-year minimum-wage earnings needed to pay annual child care costs for a 4-year-old in Oklahoma.
  • 9,729 – Number of farms in Oklahoma with a Native American operator, the most of any state except Arizona.
  • 28% – Percentage of children under age 6 who received a developmental screening in Oklahoma, 2011-2012. The national average was 30%.
  • 16.5 – Deaths due to firearm injury per 100,000 in Oklahoma in 2013, the 8th-highest nationwide

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Across the country, state budgets continue to record modest growth but often not enough to keep pace with costs [Governing].
  • For minimum wage workers, the cost of childcare is staggering [Wonkblog]. 
  • Houston just dramatically improved its mass transit system without spending a dime [Vox].
  • It’s getting harder to move beyond a minimum-wage job [FiveThirtyEight].
  • Better state budget planning can build healthier economies [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].


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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