The Weekly Wonk: A day without taxes, a menu of options, 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

This week, we released a new fact sheet outlining Oklahoma’s options for solving the budget crisis, as well as a poll showing that the majority of Oklahomans favor income tax increases to prevent funding cuts. In his Journal Record column, Blatt explained why eliminating the double deduction should be a no-brainer for the legislature. In addition, we reran a guest post by Paul Shinn about what a day without taxes would look like.

On the OK Policy Blog, Policy Analyst Carly Putnam shared what we know so far about the Health Care Authority’s proposal to extend health coverage to low-income Oklahomans. We’ve previously written about the benefits of expanding coverage. She also explained why four-day school weeks could leave thousands of Oklahoma students hungry. Other resources on hunger and food insecurity in Oklahoma are available here.


“I work with teachers and our public school employees. Further budget cuts mean a lot of them will lose their jobs. Many of the school employees who aren’t teachers get paid hourly. They may keep their job, but their hours will be cut, especially in the many districts that are moving to four-day weeks. They aren’t paid well to begin with, so budget cuts will mean their pay will be below the poverty line.” -Amanda Ewing (OKC)

These testimonials, and the multitude of others like them, show what’s at risk if the budget crisis isn’t fixed. Join Together Oklahoma’s campaign to tell lawmakers that we can’t cut our way to prosperity, and need to protect core services and raise revenues. Join #DoSomethingOK here.

Calling all college students!

  • We are now accepting applications for our (paid!) summer internships. Our interns are treated as full members of the OK Policy team, and they have the opportunity to gain experience in nearly all aspects of what we do. Intern tasks may include collecting data, conducting research, assisting with advocacy efforts, writing blog posts or reports on state policy issues, strategizing policy goals, and helping to coordinate events on a wide range of topics. Learn more and apply here.
  • We are also accepting applications from undergrad and graduate students for our fourth Summer Policy Institute (SPI)! SPI brings together highly-qualified college students from across the state from July 31 to August 3 for a unique opportunity to become better informed about vital Oklahoma policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders in the policy process, and prepare for their future studies and work in public policy-related fields. Learn more and apply here.

Weekly What’s That


The Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) Fund is a fund of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation that was created by the Legislature in 2005 to ensure dedicated revenue for the maintenance and repair of state highway and bridges. Money is apportioned directly to the ROADS Fund from personal income tax collections. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“The national education system that developed in the U.S. in the 19th century was different from the systems in other Western societies in three ways: Americans regarded education as a solution to social problems. The power of education led Americans to provide more years of schooling to to more students than other countries. Educational institutions primarily were governed by local authorities than federal ones. Today, Oklahoma lawmakers don’t grasp those three principles of education. Instead, they crusade for lower tax rates to entice more industry to the state. In doing so, they don’t understand these industries require a highly educated and trained workforce.”

– Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise Editorial Board, arguing that legislators have failed the purpose of the education system (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Mary Brinkley, NewsOK

In Oklahoma, 19.3 percent of the population comprises those 60-plus years of age. It is the fastest-growing segment of the population, projected to double by 2030. If we can’t afford to care for our aged now, what is our plan for the coming years? No matter how much we talk about right-sizing government, this part of the budget is going to grow. We cannot compromise the lives of those on the Medicaid program because of the downturn in the economy or our failure to address the ‘graying’ of Oklahoma.

Numbers of the Day

  • 240,229 – Estimated number of occupied housing units in Oklahoma with lead-based paint hazards
  • 37% – Percent of Oklahoma enrollees on from rural zip codes
  • $6,788 – Average annual cost of infant care in Oklahoma
  • 2.6% – Percentage of affordable housing units in Oklahoma that are farther than 15 miles from the nearest hospital (1,660 units)
  • $5,123 – Annual child care cost for a four year-old in Oklahoma

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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