The Weekly Wonk: Despite disappointing legislative session, public engagement provides reason for hope

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 reviewed the legislative session in his Journal Record column, pointing out several shortcomings but also a few reasons for hope that things might be better next year. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update explored the possible constitutional issues with this year’s budget, such as the cigarette fee and the sales tax on vehicles. Intern Maggie Den Harder discussed the use of mobile food trucks by two Oklahoma school districts to provide summer meals to food insecure children.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt was interviewed by Governing magazine for a story about the comparatively severe cuts to public education that Oklahoma has endured – Oklahoma now spends $1 billion less on K-12 public education that it did a decade ago. OK Policy’s statement on the disappointing budget agreement was quoted by The Ada News for their piece about the shortcomings in next year’s budget.

Weekly What’s That

Food Insecurity

Food security is defined as “ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods.” The measure was introduced by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1996 to assess households’ ability to consistently obtain three nutritionally adequate meals a day. Households can be rated as being food secure, low food secure, or very low food secure.

Nationally, 14.6 percent of households were food insecure on average between 2011-13, including 5.7 percent that had very low food security, or hunger. In Oklahoma, 15.5 percent of households experienced food insecurity, including 6.7 percent which experienced very low food security.

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

Quote of the Week

“I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t be a taxpaying citizen if education was in the state then that it is today. We are not going to break the cycle of poverty if our people aren’t educated. Every time you increase tuition, higher education is shutting out another family that could be helped out of poverty.”

– East Central University President Katricia Pierson (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Writers, Tulsa World

Some complain that the Shelby verdict shouldn’t be a topic of public conversation in the context of racial equity in Tulsa. The trial is over, and Tulsa should move on, they say. 
That’s the attitude that resulted in discussions of the 1921 race riot being stifled for decades. Omitted from the history curriculum the riot was rarely discussed in public. Refusing to discuss painful events that reveal fissures in the community — psychologically denying the significance of our history — doesn’t make them go away. It makes them fester. The fact that no one living today is responsible for the events of 1921 doesn’t erase the need for reconciliation, it underlines how long the problem has gone without resolution.

Numbers of the Day

  • 6.2% – Percentage of mortgages past due in Oklahoma in Q4 2016 – higher than the national average of 5.1%
  • 13.3% – Share of Oklahoma jobs that are in local government, April 2017
  • 73% – Percentage of Oklahoma residences with broadband internet access, lower than the national average of of 90%
  • $3,603 – Oklahomans’ per capita personal consumption spending on health care in 2015

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • What happens when you give a district the freedom to innovate? [Hechinger Report]
  • For the price of Trump’s tax cuts, you could cut child poverty in half — and so much more [Vox]
  • How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality [Matthew Desmond/The New York Times]
  • The most important part of the Republican health bill is mostly getting ignored [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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