The Weekly Wonk: SQ 802 endorsement; restoring the EITC; public charge rule, & (much) 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

This week, OK Policy endorsed State Question 802, the initiative petition to expand Medicaid coverage in Oklahoma to low-income adults. SQ 802 meets OK Policy’s core policy objectives of providing comprehensive health care coverage to the full expansion population without creating cumbersome and inefficient barriers to care. In addition, Medicaid expansion could help address Oklahoma’s surging meth crisis, as Open Justice Oklahoma Intern Jensen Armstrong recently discussed. We will continue to provide updated information and resources on SQ 802 on our website. 

On Thursday, Budget and Tax Senior Policy Analyst Paul Shinn and Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison participated in a House interim study on the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). On our blog, Shinn explained why restoring Oklahoma’s state EITC to help struggling working families is necessary and overdue.

Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade found that, contrary to recent claims, Oklahoma’s recent criminal justice reforms are working. Theft has been decreasing in Oklahoma for nearly a decade, and fewer Oklahomans are going to prison for low-level theft. On the federal level, Cullison explained the Administration’s new public charge rule and the harmful impact it could have on immigrant families — and consequently everyone. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed recent events around pretrial juvenile detention in Oklahoma.

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we are featuring Shiloh Kantz, Deputy Director and Operations and Development Director. You can meet more members of our staff here.

OK Policy in the News

The Journal Record ran pieces on our second class of Mental Health Policy Fellows and advocacy team expansion. Blatt spoke with CNHI about the Governor’s appointment of new state agency directors. 

We want to hear from you!

Legislative Priorities Survey: In order to craft a better legislative agenda, we need your input. We want to know what issues you care about and what you would most like to see addressed by policymakers. Please take a few moments to complete this short survey. Every person who participates and provides their name and contact information will be automatically entered into a drawing for one of two $25 Visa gift cards.

Weekly What’s That

Rainy Day Fund, what’s that?

The Rainy Day Fund (formally known as the Constitutional Reserve Fund) was created in 1985 in response to a dramatic revenue downturn. It is designed to collect extra funds when times are good and to spend those funds when revenues cannot support ongoing state operations. Read more about Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund.

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

Quote of the Week

“We now have children who have adverse childhood experiences that are profound. The world outside the classroom impacts the world inside the classroom and teachers are shouldering the brunt.”

– State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister on how things other than teacher pay (like large class sizes, under-resourced classrooms, and insufficient support staff) are contributing to the teacher shortage [KGOU]

Editorial of the Week

$572 million verdict in Oklahoma’s opioid case recognizes a monumental human tragedy

The temptation of a $572 million windfall is to celebrate, and it certainly beats losing. But we haven’t lost sight of the fact that the money is compensation for the state’s costs in a horrific crisis.

Tulsa World Editorial  [Source].

Numbers of the Day

  • 14.8% – Percentage of potentially eligible children Oklahoma serves with childcare subsidies for parents working or in school
  • 70% – Percentage of women on SoonerCare that received timely prenatal care
  • 1,848 – Number of dispensary licenses approved by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority as of August 26, 2019.
  • 11 – Number of Oklahoma counties experiencing persistent poverty, or poverty rates greater than 20%, from 1990 to 2015
  • $9.30 – Median hourly wage for workers in Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations in Oklahoma – half of the 158,940 workers in this occupation make less than this hourly wage.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Are state and local pension funds really in crisis? [Brookings]
  • Pell Grant mission creep: How a federal program for low-income families expanded to the middle class [AEI]
  • Your local library may have a new offering in stock: A resident social worker [NPR]
  • Employers urged to find new ways to address workers’ mental health [Kaiser Health News]
  • More kids are getting placed in foster care because of parents’ drug use [NPR]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma.

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