The Weekly Wonk: Uninsured rate for Oklahoma children remains stalled, fines and fees examined, 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.

This week’s edition of The Weekly Wonk was published with contributions from Open Justice Oklahoma Intern Thomas Gao.

This Week from OK Policy

A new national report shows the number of uninsured Oklahoma children held steady last year, however the rate remains significantly higher than the national average. The report from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families found that 8.2 percent of Oklahoma children in 2018 did not have health insurance, up from 8.1 percent the previous year. 

Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update gave us insight into a recent legislative interim study on the impact of fines and fees in our justice system. In his weekly Journal Record column, former executive director David Blatt discussed the recent raise given to Oklahoma lawmakers by the Legislative Compensation Board. 

This week we celebrated our longtime executive director David Blatt with two farewell events in Oklahoma City on October 28 and Tulsa on October 29. We’ve published his prepared remarks along with a photo album of both events on our blog. If you were unable to join us but would like to contribute to the David Blatt Legacy Fund, you can do so online or by texting RETIREMENT to 41444.

OK Policy in the News

Studio Tulsa host Rich Fisher sat down with OK Policy’s new Executive Director Ahniwake Rose and former Executive Director David Blatt for a discussion. U.S. News cited OK Policy data in a story about Oklahoma’s focus on criminal justice reform. The Muskogee Phoenix Editorial Board cited OK Policy research on the urgency of addressing the Hepatitis C crisis in Oklahoma prisons.

Weekly What’s That

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, what’s that?

TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) provides time-limited cash assistance to low-income families with minor children who are deprived of parental support because of the absence, death, incapacity, or unemployment of at least one parent. TANF is operated in Oklahoma by the Department of Human Services. It is funded primarily through a federal block grant with a state matching requirement.

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

Quote of the Week

“Sometimes folks in these rural counties are having to choose between feeding their kids, buying medicine, putting gas in their car or making their payments to avoid going to jail.”

-Tim Laughlin of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System. [Journal Record]

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World: Oklahoma can’t engineer a pay raise for people working with prison inmates. Maybe part of the problem is we have too many inmates.

“We’ve got too many prisoners, too little money, too few guards and too few alternatives. As a result, state government doesn’t have the money it needs for education, roads and health; meanwhile, we’re destroying families, hamstringing the state’s work force and having no positive impact on crime.

The solution is obvious: fewer prisoners.

The state can’t afford its world-leading rate of incarceration, which is driven by a criminal justice system that emphasizes retribution not rehabilitation. Fix that problem, and many other issues fall into place.”

[Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 0.7 – Unemployed Oklahomans for every job opening in June 2019. Ten years ago there were 3.9 unemployed for every opening
  • 44.7% – Percent change in average tuition at public, four-year colleges in Oklahoma
  • $23,360,311 – Total Oklahoma medical marijuana license revenue in the month of September 2019
  • 113,491 – Total number of LGBTQ+ adult Oklahomans – 3.8% of the adult population of the state
  • 12.9% – The percentage total reported crime declined in Oklahoma between 2009 and 2018

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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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