The Weekly Wonk: School meals, oil and gas dependence, TSET, 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

This week, we released an issue brief by Policy Analyst Carly Putnam outlining the Community Eligibility Provision, a tool that can help make high-poverty schools in Oklahoma hunger-fee by serving free breakfast and lunch to all students. Summer Intern Chan Aaron investigated if the state had reduced its dependence on oil and gas.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis noted that using the Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund to give teachers a raise would quickly deplete the fund and leave the initiatives TSET funds without support. On September 17-18, Mental Health Association Oklahoma will host the 21st Zarrow Mental Health Symposium.

Introducing FallPol

You’re invited to join us for our first-ever OK Policy Fall Policy Institute (FallPol) on Saturday, October 3rd, at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond! Designed for emerging professionals, advocates, educators, volunteers and more, this one-day training will delivery a solid overview of significant policy issues in Oklahoma. Click here to learn more.

OK Policy in the News

Putnam was interviewed by KTEN regarding the Community Eligibility Provision. The Wagoner Tribune cited OK Policy data in a discussion of education cuts.

Weekly What’s That

Sales Relief Tax Credit

The Sales Tax Relief Credit, sometimes known as the “grocery tax credit,” is an income tax credit that provides a rebate of $40 per household member to households with incomes at or below the following levels: $50,000 per year for filers who are elderly, have a physical disability, or… Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Saying we don’t have the money for teacher pay raises is no longer an acceptable excuse. Schools are doing the best they can under the circumstances, but we have to ask ourselves: Are we really OK with 5- and 6-year-olds who will go without a teacher trained to develop young readers? Are we really OK with eliminating high-level science classes because we refuse to pay teachers a competitive wage?”

– Shawn Hime, executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association, speaking about a new survey revealing that even though 600 teaching positions have been eliminated across the state, 1,000 remain unfilled. Schools are seeking record numbers of emergency teaching certificates for applicants who haven’t completed basic higher education and training requirements (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

Teresa Meinders Burkett, The Tulsa World

How much money are we talking about for Oklahoma? According to the Kaiser Commission, Oklahoma would receive $8.561 billion in federal funds over 10 years from expanding coverage. This means that we are giving up $2.3 million every single day that could be used to boost Oklahoma health-care providers and expand access to needed care for working families. Think of the economic stimulus that money would create.

Numbers of the Day

  • 22% – Percent of households in Oklahoma that are not served by a bank or any other financial institution.
  • 45,946,666 – Total number of retail prescription drugs filled at pharmacies in Oklahoma in 2014
  • 2.7 – Oklahoma’s bankruptcy rate per 1,000 people in 2013. The national average was 3.3
  • 1st – Oklahoma’s ranking out of all 50 states for percentage for special education students expelled from school
  • 39.10% – The percentage of adolescents ages 12-17 in Oklahoma in 2012–2013 who perceived no great risk from smoking one or more packs of cigarettes a day, versus 35% nationwide

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

What We’re Reading

  • Why the next Republican president won’t touch Obamacare [Vox].
  • Housing policy designed to help end poverty is failing America’s poor [CityLab].
  • The US is six years into recovery from the recession yet state budget gaps persist across the country [The New York Times].
  • Black Americans have overwhelmingly eschewed hospice care and end-of-life directives, due to a legacy of abuse and manipulation by the health care system. But now, attitudes may be changing [Kaiser Health News].
  • What happens to babies born in prison? [The Atlantic]


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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