The Weekly Wonk: Results of criminal justice reform; stalled progress on child uninsured; immigration rules threaten families; 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.

Recently from OK Policy

This week, Open Justice Oklahoma released its first report which found that State Question 780 reversed 10 years of growth in felony filings. In an analysis of Census Bureau data, Policy Director Carly Putnam showed Oklahoma’s progress on child uninsured rate has stalled. Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison explained the importance of ensuring immigrant families are not punished for accepting help when they need it

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt pointed to bail reform as the next step in criminal justice reform for Oklahoma. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Updates gave a run-down of Governor-Elect Kevin Stitt’s transition team and examined Oklahoma’s attempts to provide support for kids with difficult physical or mental health and behavioral issues.

OK Policy in the News

The Tulsa World wrote about Open Justice Oklahoma’s latest report showing that in one year, SQ 780 drastically reversed a 10-year upward trend of felony charges. The Enid News & Eagle ran Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade’s piece on the decrease in property crimes following a reduction in punishment with SQ 780. Blatt spoke with the Tulsa World about bills filed to repeal revenue-raising measures. 

Talk Business and Politics cited OK Policy data on the annual revenue loss from cuts in the state’s top income tax rate. The Gaylord News cited OK Policy SNAP data for a story about the federal Farm Bill that appeared in the Enid News & Eagle, KSWO, and Shawnee News-Star. The Tulsa World included our field organizer job posting in its Political Notebook newsletter. 

Upcoming Opportunities

There’s still time to apply for our field organizer positions: We have extended the application deadline for our two part-time field organizer positions – one for the southeast and one for the southwest region of the state – to support the work of our grassroots advocacy citizen coalition, Together Oklahoma. Applications will be accepted until Wednesday, December 5th. Visit TogetherOK’s website for the full details

Save the Date for OK Policy’s 2019 State Budget Summit: Our annual State Budget Summit will take place on Thursday, January 24th, 2019 at the Downtown/Medical Center Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City. Tickets will go on sale Monday, December 10th. This year’s keynote speaker is William Julius Wilson, the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. Visit our State Budget Summit event page for more information. 

Weekly What’s That

Child Care/Child Tax Credit, What’s That?

The Child Tax/Child Care Tax Credit is an Oklahoma tax credit that can be claimed by parents of dependent children. Taxpayers can claim the greater of five percent of the federal Child Tax Credit or twenty percent of the federal Child Care Tax Credit. In both cases, federal adjusted gross income cannot exceed $100,000 for married couples filing jointly.  In Tax Year 2014, the credit was claimed on nearly 382,000 Oklahoma Tax returns for a total amount of $27.0 million. As of 2018, the maximum federal Child Tax Credit was increased from $1,000 to $1,600 per qualifying child.

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

Quote of the Week

“If we have a kiddo that has experienced trauma and we don’t know about it, that student is sitting in class dealing with a lot of feelings and thoughts, maybe feeling alone. And if we have a staff member who just pays that extra attention, they don’t feel so alone.”

-Teri Bell, executive director of student support services for Oklahoma City Public Schools, speaking about a partnership with Oklahoma City police officers who will notify the district when they encounter a child who has experienced a traumatic situation [Source: NewsOK]

Editorial of the Week

The Oklahoman Editorial Board: Program offers a new way to help traumatized kids

Police Maj. Paco Balderrama said that prior to implementation of Handle with Care, there generally was little follow-up with the children involved, and so they were “just left to basically deal with it on their own. That’s what we’re trying to change.” The police department began its Handle with Care training in August. Balderrama says it will make training about trauma-informed reporting part of the process for new recruits beginning in January, and include it with in-service training of officers in the spring. [NewsOK]

Numbers of the Day

  • 42% – Out of all Oklahoma parolees sent back to prison, the percentage who were reincarcerated for a technical violation of their parole rather than committing any new offense (2016). 
  • 12,281 – The number of patient licenses approved by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority as of November 11, 2018
  • 2.8 – Hospital beds per 1,000 population in Oklahoma in 2016, 19th in the U.S.
  • 2nd – Oklahoma’s rank out of all 50 states and Washington D.C. for lowest cost of living in the 3rd quarter of 2018.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Eight Keys to Mercy: How to shorten excessive prison sentences. [Prison Policy Initative]
  • Why losing out on Amazon HQ2 isn’t so bad for cities. [Governing]
  • It ended in 1767, yet this experiment is still linked to higher incomes and education levels today. [Washington Post]
  • The success of the Earned Income Tax Credit. [Econofact]


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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