The Weekly Wonk: Subsidies upheld, off-the-top apportionments, and more

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy:

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the subsidies that allow 87,000 Oklahomans to purchase affordable health insurance is a victory for Oklahomans and a clear sign that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. Although off-the-top apportionments got a lot of attention during this spring, they aren’t completely to blame for the state’s fiscal woes. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis suggested that the responsibility to adequately fund core services rests with everyday Oklahomans, not their legislators.

We shared happened to bills on tax reform, elections, and more we followed during the legislative session. Previously, we checked in on bills concerning education and criminal justice. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discussed a new study showing that the social safety net has been far more effective at fighting poverty than previously thought.

OK Policy in the News:

Policy Director Gene Perry was interviewed by the BBC regarding the Supreme Court subsidies case. OK Policy’s statement on the case was picked by up a variety of local media, including KGOU, Oklahoma Watch, The Frontier, The Edmond Sun, and The Miami News-Record. Oklahoma Watch also cited OK Policy in its discussion of what the case means for Oklahoma.

Weekly What’s That:

Voter ID Requirements

n 2010, Oklahoma voters approved State Question 746, which established new voter identification requirements. The state question requires voters to present a valid government-issued document that includes their name and picture or a voter identification card issued by their county election board. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week:

“I’m hoping now the state can stop these stupid challenges and work together with the community to make sure our poorest and most vulnerable residents have access to health-care coverage. Anybody who thinks that this is a bad decision is not representing the needs of the people of this state.”

– John Silva, CEO of  Morton Comprehensive Health Services, which provides health care to uninsured and low-income Oklahomans, speaking following a Supreme Court ruling upholding access to health insurance for those purchasing health insurance on Federal funds are available to expand health coverage for 150,000 low-income Oklahomans, but the state has thus fare refused to accept them.  (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week:

Editorial Board, The Tulsa World

If an overworked guard feels like a walking zombie in a facility where the prisoners outnumber the correctional officers 400-to-1, the opportunities for every imaginable bad scenario is magnified.

There is a solution to the problem: Pay state employees a competitive wage and hire enough of them to do the job right. But that requires realistic assumptions about the mission, cost and necessity of state government among those who make the dollars-and-cents decisions at the state Capitol.

Numbers of the Day:

  • -1.4% The drop in Oklahoma’s total employment outside the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas since December [Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City]
  • 36% – Percentage of Oklahomans with disabilities who are employed [Governing]
  • 39% – Percentage of Oklahoma children living with both their married, biological parents, the 8th lowest in the nation [American Community Survey via the New York Times]
  • 49,900 – Number of workers in Oklahoma involuntarily working part-time when they would prefer a full-time job [Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis]
  • $394,000,000 – Estimated state savings on uncompensated care 2015-2024 if Oklahoma accepted federal funds to expand health coverage to 150,000 low-income Oklahomans [Kaiser Family Foundation]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

What we’re Reading:

  • Nick Hanauer and David Rolf discuss how to protect the American middle class as the economy shifts to recasting full-time employees into contractors, vendors, and temporary workers [Democracy Journal].
  • Teachers say that poverty and stress are thwarting student success [Washington Post].
  • Some students enrolled in for-profit colleges find themselves left with mountains of debt and a worthless degree. Now federal regulators are cracking down [The Hechinger Report].
  • Increasing numbers of advocates are pushing for a basic income. It just might work [The Atlantic].
  • On Thursday, the Supreme Court affirmed that the Fair Housing Act bans implicit as well as explicit discrimination. Here’s what that means [CityLab].


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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