The Weekly Wonk: Voter turnout at record lows, financial security for Native Americans, 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

This week on the OK Policy blog, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that voter turnout in Oklahoma has reached all-time lows. He also described a new savings initiative to boost financial security for Native Americans. Blatt’s Journal Record column summarized the findings of OK Policy’s recent report on barriers to affordable housing for Oklahomans with criminal records. The full report is available here.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis probed the questions raised by the presence of law enforcement officers in schools. This video outlines the causes and consequences of growing incarceration in the US.

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

Blatt spoke to NewsOK regarding legislative travel expenses.

Weekly What’s That


A copayment is a payment defined in an insurance policy and paid by the insured each time a medical service is accessed. For example, some plans will charge $4 for a prescription, or $20 for an office visit. Copayments do not typically contribute to an out-of-pocket maximum. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“It’s just brutal right now trying to get people certified. They may have a degree in underwater basket-weaving, and I’m trying to get them a certificate in elementary education.”

– Newcastle Public Schools Superintendent Tony O’Brien, speaking about how Oklahoma schools are allowing increasing numbers of teachers to instruct outside their areas of expertise due to a lack of applicants for many positions (

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

Jim Priest and Terry Smith, The Oklahoman

The recently issued Kids Count Profile by the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranks Oklahoma a disappointing 39th in the nation in the overall well-being of children. Sadly, the state is 42nd in the education category. We Oklahomans, who often talk about how important our children are and who say we will do anything to help and protect them, can and must do better.

Numbers of the Day

  • 597,927 – Number of Oklahoma children enrolled in Soonercare (Medicaid) in fiscal year 2015.
  • 4,600,000 – Estimated number of cattle and calves in Oklahoma, outnumbering people in the state by about 700,000.
  • 12.4 years- Average length of time individuals have spent on death row in Oklahoma before being executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1990.
  • 300,000 – Approximate number of Oklahomans aged 75 and older who voted in 2014 elections, outnumbering all voters aged 64 and less by about 46,000.
  • 159,543 – How many active members there are in Oklahoma’s state and local public pension systems.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

What We’re Reading

  • My uncle Gene is a state legislator in Topeka. This year, he and his fellow Republicans tried to do something pretty drastic with the state budget. And I got to watch the whole thing [New York Times Magazine].
  • Two years after health insurance coverage expanded due to the Affordable Care Act, analysis shows improvements in insurance coverage, access to primary care and prescription medicine, affordable healthcare and overall health, as well as drops in the number of uninsured adults, fewer people without doctors and fewer people reporting difficulty in getting medicine [Reuters].
  • Social Impact Bonds are leveraging private investors to fund new alternatives to incarceration. The jury is still out on their long-term growth and impact [Quartz].
  • Social Security provides a foundation of income on which workers can build to plan for their retirement. It also provides valuable social insurance protection to workers who become disabled and to families whose breadwinner dies. Here’s ten things you should know about it [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].
  • To improve poor neighborhoods, the people who live there must have a hand in deciding their own fate. That approach works well in Houston, where one program has enabled hundreds of thousands of poor residents, many of them immigrants, to move up the ladder of economic and educational opportunity each year [New York Times].


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.