The Weekly Wonk: An agenda for prosperity, the limits of direct democracy, and more

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.

Summer Policy Institute

Our fourth annual Summer Policy Institute runs Sunday – Wednesday this week, and we’ll be livetweeting it! You can follow along on Twitter at #okspiIn The Know, our daily news update, will take a break during the Summer Policy Institute and will return on Thursday.

This Week from OK Policy

This week, in response to Oklahoma’s continuing budget crisis, we released an agenda for broad-based prosperity in Oklahoma.  The agenda comes in two parts: part one outlines how Oklahoma can create a better budget and tax system that would put out finances on a more sustainable path in a way that is fair and responsible to the needs of regular families; part two outlines policies that would help to restore America’s basic bargain for Oklahoma families — that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead. Both parts combined are available here

Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discusses the proposed penny sales tax for education and the limits of direct democracy. OK Policy’s statement on the proposal is here. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt made the progressive case for the sales tax increase. On the blog, Blatt explained how cuts to alternative education will come back to haunt us. 

OK Policy in the News

The Tax Justice Blog included our agenda for broad-based prosperity in their weekly roundup. In the Tulsa World, Ginnie Graham profiled DeVon Douglass, OK Policy staffer and organizer of Tulsa Talks, a series of forums to discuss race and police violence. 

Weekly What’s That

Supplemental appropriation

A supplemental appropriation is funding approved by the Legislature in the middle of a fiscal year, in addition to funds already provided in that year’s initial state budget. Supplemental appropriations generally are made to cover emergencies or unanticipated mid-year budget shortfalls within an agency or other government entity. 

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

Quote of the Week

“When I worked for Senator Nickles, he was still working on bills from when he first got there, 19 years earlier, whereas when I was with [Mayor Bill LaFortune], he said ‘We’re going to have a Vision Summit’ and then three years later the BOK is under construction. The velocity of change is so much greater at the local level. Nationally, it’s philosophical. Locally, it’s tangible.”

-Tulsa Mayor-elect G.T. Bynum (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Ryan Kiesel and Ashley Nellis, NewsOK

Oklahomans would benefit significantly by addressing the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, including but not limited to those evident in our incarceration practices. Efforts at the Legislature, from the governor’s office, and measures such as State Questions 780 and 781 (which will appear on the ballot in November) are a meaningful and necessary start to reform our justice system. But the work must move far beyond these first steps if we hope to create a system that is applied fairly and with respect for true justice.

Numbers of the Day

  • 352,629 – Number of free lunch eligible students in Oklahoma, 52 percent of all students in 2013-2014
  • 6.3 – The number of Oklahoma women per 100,000 killed by firearms in 2014, 2nd highest in US
  • 1.6 – Number of grocery stores and produce vendors per 10,000 people in Oklahoma. The national rate is 2.2
  • 34.2%  Percentage of Oklahoma’s eligible voters who voted in the 2014 General Elections, the 2nd lowest voter turnout in the U.S.
  • 4,950 – Number of telemarketers working in Oklahoma as of May 2015

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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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