Weekly Wonk April 27, 2014


The Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This week, we shared how much the the horizontal drilling tax cut is costing Oklahoma school districts. On the OK Policy blog, we discussed the legislature’s eleventh-hour attempt to reform a testing mandate for third graders. 

We wrote that additional state regulations for Navigators are unwarranted and unnecessary, and released a statement noting that the passage of SB 1246, which schedules automatic cuts to the top income tax rate, ignores both the wishes of Oklahomans and what’s best for the economy. On Thursday, May 1st, Executive Director David Blatt will participate in a debate over health care reform and Medicaid expansion. Attendees should RSVP to Kelly Hughes at Kelly@ocpathink.org or by calling (405) 602-1667 by April 29th. 

OK Policy has two exciting summer opportunities for Oklahoma college students! We are now accepting applications for our summer internship. Applicants should have completed four semesters of college coursework or be pursuing a graduate degree, and be interested in pursuing research and analysis on a variety of state policy issues.  Applications will be accepted through Friday, May 2nd.

We are also accepting applications to our second annual Summer Policy Institute (SPI), a three-day crash course on Oklahoma’s policy landscape, featuring speakers and panels on a wide range of state policy issues. Applications will be accepted through Friday, May 30th. 

In his Journal Record column this week, Blatt urged education advocates to keep the pressure on lawmakers to pursue real options for education funding. Blatt’s speech at the March 31st education rally in Oklahoma City can be viewed here. Policy Director Gene Perry discussed Oklahoma’s budget crisis with the International Business Times. 

Sen. Sean Burrage noted that Oklahoma is a low-tax state in the Pryor Daily Times, using OK Policy data and analysis. You can read our tax day blog post here. A letter in the Norman Daily Transcript, citing OK Policy work, argued that the state budget is leaving vital health care services behind and made suggestions to help fix the issue. Our suggestions for filling the budget hole can be found here, and our discussion of impending Medicaid cuts is here. The Oklahoman’s editorial board took issue with a recently-released poll commissioned by OK Policy on tax breaks for horizontal drilling. You can read more about the poll here

Numbers of the Day

  • 8,000 – Increase in leisure and hospitality sector jobs in Oklahoma since March 2013, more than one-third of all new jobs in Oklahoma over the past year.
  • $13.7 million – How much CTB/McGraw-Hill was paid this year to conduct Oklahoma school testing, which has been disrupted by technology problems for the second year in a row.
  • $267 million – Oklahoma Tax Commission estimate of cost in 2019 of SB 1246, which would lower top income tax rate to 4.85%. The Commission cannot estimate the full impact because its simulation model doesn’t extend that far into the future.
  • 830,850 – The number of Oklahomans enrolled in the state Medicaid program as of late March, the largest single-month total in the history of the program.
  • $23,636 – The average debt of an Okahoman university student who graduated in 2012. Oklahoma ranks 34th nationally.

Policy Notes

  • The Alaska Dispatch reports that since Alaska switched state employees from defined benefit to a defined contribution pension system, the state’s unfunded liabilities have nearly doubled.
  • Demos shares data that shows while the US and Northern Europe have similar rates unmarried parents and single mothers, the US’s child poverty rate is substantially higher.
  • The Congressional Budget Office has lowered its estimates of the cost to states to implement Medicaid expansion, making it an even better deal for states than previously thought. 
  • The Washington Post reports on the whereabouts of the 1.6 million Americans who don’t have indoor plumbing, and explains why such data matters.
  • Al Jazeera discusses the impact and costs of being uninsured in America.


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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