The Weekly Wonk: Budget cuts will hit rural Oklahoma hard, no clear plan for next year’s budget, a new OK PolicyCast, 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.

This Week from OK Policy

Executive Director David Blatt explained that state budget cuts will likely hit small towns and rural Oklahoma especially hard, and argued that fixing the state’s budget woes will require legislators to put our common interest above self-interest  in his Journal Record Column. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison contended that extending unpaid parental leave for state employees would be a good first step in modernizing Oklahoma’s family leave policies.

A new episode of OK PolicyCast provided a mid-session update on our legislative priorities. Brenda Granger, Executive Director of Oklahoma Museums Association, reminded us of the importance of the arts and culture to Oklahoma’s economy and education system. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update lamented the lack of a clear plan for next year’s state budget.

OK Policy in the News

Policy Analyst Carly Putnam was interviewed by The Oklahoman for a story about SB 478, a bill that would allow insurance companies to sell policies in Oklahoma that don’t cover all mandated benefits. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison’s analysis of HB 2132, a bill that would allow the creation of “prosperity districts” in Oklahoma was used by the Humane Society in a news piece about the issue.

Upcoming Opportunities

We are now accepting applications for our fifth annual Summer Policy Institute (SPI). SPI brings together dozens of undergraduate and graduate students from across the state for a three and a half-day intensive policy training. The application deadline is May 26, 2017. Click here to learn more and apply.

Oklahoma City Community College will host Thomas Friedman on April 27 for a discussion of trends shaping the world today, global forces driving change in the Middle East, as well as his latest book. For more information about the free event, visit the event website.

Weekly Advocacy Alert

HB 1913, which is being promoted by Oklahoma’s payday loan industry, would allow for a new high-cost loan product with maximum interest charges many times higher than what is allowed under current law. Tell your Senators to stand against these usurious loans: vote NO on HB 1913. Call your Senator at 405-524-0126 or call the AARP’s toll-free number at 1-844-248-8227 to be connected to your Senator. See our full advocacy alert on HB 1913 for more information.

Weekly What’s That

Committee Substitute

A committee substitute is a revised version of legislation proposed for consideration or adoption by a committee. The committee substitute replaces, in whole, the original bill that was referred to a committee, including conference committees

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

Quote of the Week

“Just because you purchase coverage that doesn’t include cancer treatment because your family doesn’t have a history of cancer, insurance could then prove to be totally useless if, surprise, you develop an actual serious health condition like cancer. At that point, this health coverage might be slightly less expensive but it would also be useless in the case of a medical emergency.”

– OK Policy Analyst Carly Putnam, explaining how loosening health insurance mandates through HB 478 could lead to skimpy coverage that fails to cover important treatments and services (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Rep. Kevin Calvey, Tulsa World

HB 1913 seeks to compel government courts to help the private payday lending industry collect its debts. HB 1913 doesn’t merely require Oklahoma to allow excessive consumer debt. HB 1913 actually requires the state of Oklahoma to subsidize excessive consumer debt through its court system..Alternative sources of credit for the poor already exist, such as middle-interest signature loans, and pawn loans, which are less enticing because they require collateral. We don’t need HB 1913 to provide credit for the poor, or to reduce the impact of payday lending. HB 1913 simply adds to existing payday lending schemes.

Numbers of the Day

  • -1.20% – Change in Oklahomans’ personal income between 2015 and 2016, one of six states with negative growth
  • 952 – Number of Oklahomans who died from overdoses in 2016, an increase of over 10% from 2015
  • 1,770 – Rate of incarceration for males in Oklahoma per 100,000 residents of all ages in 2015, second highest in the country
  • 7.3 – Infant deaths per 1,000 live births in Oklahoma in 2015. Only 7 states have a higher infant mortality rate

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • How does nutrition affect children’s school performance? [CNN]
  • Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Policies Are Scaring Eligible Families Away From the Safety Net [The Atlantic]
  • College Classes In Maximum Security: ‘It Gives You Meaning’ [NPR]
  • Housing First policies could help end Pensacola homelessness [Pensacola News Journal]


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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