The Weekly Wonk: veto referendum FAQs, many devils in details on work requirements, long ways away on criminal justice reform

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’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

Executive Director David Blatt sat down with Together OK Coordinator Sabine Brown to answer a few of the most common questions surrounding the veto referendum and the potential impact on the teacher and state employee raises. Blatt went into further detail in a blog post where he laid out what we know – and don’t know – about the revenue bill veto challenge

Policy Director Carly Putnam expressed concerns with Oklahoma’s movement toward implementing work requirements, cautioning that there are many devils in the details that will directly impact low-income families in the state. Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler evaluated progress made in criminal justice reform, noting that although investments in justice reform are a good start, savings are a long ways away.

In this week’s Capitol Update, Steve Lewis discussed the recent multi-county grand jury report on the Oklahoma Health Department and speculated whether the problems would have come to light sooner if Oklahoma whistleblower law were stronger.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke with sociologist Bruce Fuller for an Op-Ed in Education Week on the role of unions in teacher-led funding protests.

Upcoming Opportunities

We have great news: the deadline to apply for the 2018 Summer Policy Institute has been extended to Tuesday, May 29! If you haven’t already, we hope you will encourage your friends and students to apply for this exciting and stimulating four-day learning experience. Click here for all the details.

There are just 5 days left to register to vote in time for the June primaries in Oklahoma! The deadline to register is this Friday, June 1. For a full list of deadlines and dates to remember for the 2018 Oklahoma Elections, check out this TogetherOK graphic on Facebook and Twitter.

In just over a week, we will be welcoming Harvard University professor, Danielle Allen, for a compelling conversation on her recent book “Cuz”, a fierce family memoir that makes mass incarceration nothing less than a new American tragedy. Join us Wednesday, June 6 at 7 PM at the TCC Center for Creativity for Black Lives Lost: An Evening with Danielle Allen.

Weekly What’s That

Food Insecurity

Food security is defined as “ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.” The measure was introduced by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1996 to assess households’ ability to consistently obtain three nutritionally adequate meals a day. Households can be rated as being food secure, low food secure, or very low food secure. Nationally, 12.3 percent of households were food insecure in 2016, including 4.9 percent that had very low food security, or hunger. In Oklahoma, 15.2 percent of households on average experienced food insecurity from 2014-2016, including 6.3 percent which experienced very low food security. Click here to learn more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Darn near every program we have has a waiting list. It’s a forgotten issue. We kind of have to stand on a table waving our hands.”

-Blair Schoeb, Executive Director of the Areawide Agency on Aging serving Oklahoma, Logan, Lincoln and Canadian counties, speaking about how demand for senior services is skyrocketing as more baby boomers enter their mid-60s [Journal Record].

Editorial of the Week

Refuse to sign the SQ 799 petition; reject a devastating attack on public schools

“Oklahoma Taxpayers United sprung up to collect 41,142 signatures by mid-July to put State Question 799 to a statewide vote. It asks to eliminate the tax increases. If the proposition makes it to the ballot, the raise would probably be suspended, pending the vote. If passed, the raise is gone. The group presents no sound arguments to dissolve the work the democratically elected state House, Senate and governor. SQ 799 would be devastating to the state’s future. It would send teachers streaming across borders looking for states that value education and lead more schools into part-time schedules” [World’s Editorial Writers/Tulsa World]. 

Numbers of the Day

  • 1 in 6 – Proportion of Oklahoma families who used SNAP to purchase groceries in FY 2017
  • $788 million – How much Oklahoma FY 2019 budget is below the state’s FY 2009 budget when adjusted for inflation, a 9.4 percent decrease.
  • 29,644 – Number of Oklahoma births covered by SoonerCare in FY 2017.
  • 51.7% – Percentage of Oklahomans who have saving accounts
  • $9,348 – Maximum annual income for a single parent with two dependent children to be covered by SoonerCare (46% of the federal poverty level).

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • It’s time for a new discussion of marijuana’s risks [The New York Times].
  • New evidence shows that our antI-poverty programs, especially social security, work well [Los Angeles Times].
  • How America broke its economy [The New Republic].
  • We really do have a solution to the opioid epidemic — and one state is showing it works [Vox].
  • Medicaid Minus Stigma: In Indian country, it’s part of the fabric of life [Kaiser Health News].


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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