The Weekly Wonk: Blame game and political fallout after DHS announces cuts, Affordable Care Act important piece of health care in rural Oklahoma

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.

OK Policy will be hosting our annual Summer Policy Institute this week! SPI brings together more than 50 highly-qualified undergraduate and graduate students for an exciting and stimulating four-day learning experience. Follow along with SPI on Twitter with the hashtag #okspi 

This Week from OK Policy

Executive Director David Blatt returned to his Journal Record column this week, breaking down the blame game surrounding the Department of Human Services’ recent announcement that they would have to make cuts in some programs to deal with an inadequate budget. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed the political fallout of that DHS announcement, placing the removal of Rep. Leslie Osborn as Chairwoman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee in the larger context of legislative politics. Guest Columnmist Teresa Huggins, CEO of Stigler Health and Wellness Center, shared the importance of the Affordable Care Act in providing healthcare for Oklahomans in rural areas.

Weekly What’s That

DDSD Waivers

Some Oklahomans with developmental disabilities qualify for Medicaid services through the state’s developmental disabilities services division (DDSD) waivers. The waiver is a funding mechanism that allows the state to offer community-based services as an alternative to institutional services. Read more about the four types of waivers here.

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

Quote of the Week

“Teacher Needs School Supplies! Anything Helps.”

– From a sign held by Teresa Danks, a third-grade teacher in Tulsa, while she stood at a highway intersection collecting money for supplies for her classroom. Danks said she spends around $2,000 of her $35,000 salary on classroom supplies each year (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Joe Hight, Journal Record

Because the state Legislature continues to decrease its appropriations, students will pay an average 5.3 percent more in tuition and fees for the 2017-2018 year. According to The Oklahoman’s K.S. McNutt, that’s an average $284 more for in-state students. In-state college students will pay from $199 to nearly $288 per credit hour to attend a four-year university here, according to I remember paying $11 per credit hour when attending college in the late ‘70s…Many UCO students are either working part- or full-time jobs, needing financial support or veterans returning to college to support their families. One student told me last semester that he needed to stand up during class because he might fall asleep, not because of class but he had just worked an early-morning shift. Others also work before class, after leaving classes, in-between classes. They’re working hard to transform their lives.

Numbers of the Day

  • 6.8% – Share of President Trump’s proposed tax cuts that would go to middle- and lower-income Oklahomans; 56.3 percent of the tax cuts would go to the richest 1 percent
  • 49.9% – Uninsured rate for noncitizens in Oklahoma, 2015
  • 35% – Share of non-elderly Oklahomans with disabilities who receive SNAP benefits, 2013-2015
  • 77% – Share of National Institutes of Health funding in Oklahoma that flows to the Oklahoma City Innovation District, a hub for major research organizations like the Oklahoma Health Center Foundation and the University of Oklahoma
  • 37.5% – Percentage of adolescent boys (age 13-17) in Oklahoma vaccinated against HPV, the 14th-highest rate in the US

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Republicans say Medicaid is ‘broken.’ Here’s how the people it covers feel [Washington Post]
  • How Medicaid Cuts Could Exacerbate the Opioid Epidemic [The Atlantic]
  • Shoplifting in Chicago dropped after a change in the food stamp program [Washington Post]
  • The Essential Role of Medicaid and Criminal Justice [Huffington Post]
  • How bosses are (literally) like dictators [Vox]


Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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