The Weekly Wonk: Voter registration, carbon tax, 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

On the OK Policy Blog, Blatt praised a settlement reached between several area nonprofits and the Oklahoma State Elections Board designed to ensure more low-income Oklahomans can register to vote. Our work on repairing Oklahoma’s broken democracy can be found here. Outgoing summer intern Derek Wietelman explored Oklahoma should tax carbon emissions. A new interactive by Policy Director Gene Perry shows what professions dominate in Oklahoma, and what those professions pay.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis points out that lawmakers are still asking state agencies to do more with less funding. Writing in the Journal Record, Blatt discussed a new school meals program that allows high-poverty schools to serve breakfast and lunch to all students free of charge. The program, called the Community Eligibility Provision, allows schools to feed more children more efficiently.

We Want You (and/or Your Students)!

  • College students are invited to apply for our fall internship and research fellowship. The internship is available to any student enrolled in an Oklahoma college with at least four semesters of credit who can travel to Tulsa at least once per week. Internships are paid, and are available for both research and advocacy. Research fellowships are available to graduate students. Research Fellows are each expected to prepare a blog post on issues related to their research in the fall and to conduct a legislative bill analysis in the spring. OK Policy provides each fellow a stipend. Click here to learn more about these opportunities and how to apply. The application deadline for the internships and research fellowships is Friday, August 28th.
  • OK Policy is also hiring a full-time policy analyst to conduct research and analysis on issues of economic opportunity and financial security affecting low- and moderate-income Oklahomans. The position will also involve substantial work with the Oklahoma Assets Network, a statewide coalition of individuals and organizations led by OK Policy working to build stronger financial foundations for all Oklahomans. Click here to see more about the job description and how to apply. The application deadline for the policy analyst position is close of business on Monday, August 24th.

OK Policy in the News

A Journal Record article referenced OK Policy data while discussing signups in the Affordable Care Act’s special enrollment period. In the Tulsa World, Ginnie Graham cited our brief on election reform (you can read that brief here).

Weekly What’s That

Investment/New Jobs Tax Credit

The Investment/New Job tax credit is a credit allowed on Oklahoma income tax. The credit can be claimed either on an investment in depreciable property or on the addition of full-time-equivalent employees engaged in manufacturing, processing, or aircraft maintenance. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“I followed my partner to Tulsa, but compared to Texas and what I could have made had I stayed in Texas, it’s quite a shock. I would have probably started at $10,000 to $15,000 more in Texas. One of the other big differences I’ve noticed is a lot of the teachers in Oklahoma who are young tend to have second jobs just be able to make ends meet or to live well. That also affects the quality of teaching — if they could put that energy into their classrooms, imagine how much better their instruction could be.”

-Nadia Najera, a social studies and science teacher at Zarrow International School in Tulsa (Source)

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

Ed Martinez, Jr, The Tulsa World

Most women involved in the criminal justice system are suffering from untreated trauma, mental illness and or drug addiction. They are homeless, unemployed and oftentimes victims of domestic violence. They have on average two to three children. Once they enter the criminal justice system, they are assessed with multiple fines and fees, most of which support the criminal justice system itself. If they are arrested, jailed or sent to prison, they rarely receive services to address any of the issues that entangled them in the first place. The state of Oklahoma also enforces sentencing enhancements, mandatory minimums, and harsh drug laws that result in unnecessary felony convictions and long prison sentences for non-violent women.

Numbers of the Day

  • 1,133 – Number of Oklahomans who have remained tobacco-free for one year or longer after accepting help to quit from the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline.
  • $23,430 – Average annual income for the more than 36,000 Oklahomans working at nursing and residential care facilities.
  • 282 – Ranking of Atoka County out of 3,111 counties nationwide for natural amenities making it a nice place to live, the best ranking of any county in Oklahoma.
  • 3.9 – Number of grade levels Oklahoma’s 8th grade math score expectations are behind New York, the state with the highest expectation.
  • 198 – Number of physicians in Oklahoma per 100,000 people, lower than all but 5 other states.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

What We’re Reading

  • With the oil industry facing what could be its worst downturn in more than 45 years, the major companies are taking extraordinary, perhaps even desperate, measures to preserve their dividends [Inside Climate News].
  • Death sentences in Oklahoma County and other top sentencing counties have dropped sharply after district attorneys who were outspoken, even celebrity, proponents of the death penalty either resigned or didn’t seek reelection amid controversies [The Marshall Project].
  • Low-income neighborhoods are hit particularly hard by shoddy transportation infrastructure. And for those who are disabled or chronically ill, just getting to the doctor can be a difficult undertaking [The Atlantic].
  • Recent attempts to reduce the U.S. prison population have focused on reforming mandatory minimum sentencing and reclassifying crimes, but the Obama administration wants to expand reform efforts to prisoner education by offering Pell grants to some inmates as part of an experimental pilot program [FiveThirtyEight].
  • For Black Americans, adhering to personal responsibility social norms isn’t enough to beat the impact of historic and ongoing racial discrimination [Brookings].


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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