The Weekly Wonk: Don’t undo right-on-crime efforts, don’t call cuts inevitable, 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, Policy Analyst Ryan Gentlzer wrote that lawmakers need to continue right-on-crime efforts in an op-ed for The Oklahoman. On the OK Policy Blog, Gentzler summarized where legislators did – and didn’t – make progress with criminal justice reform during the 2016 legislative session. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column argued that cuts to state services are the results of lawmakers’ choices, not inevitable circumstances. 

Spring intern Ethan Rex explained that food deserts play a big role in Oklahomans’ poor health, and spring intern Amanda Rightler analyzed Oklahoma’s enrollment data from the Affordable Care Act’s most recent Open Enrollment Period. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis detailed why some lawmakers want to reconfigure the state’s judicial districts. Finally, we’ve created a page linking to information about 2016 state questions and elections, and we’ll update it as more information becomes available. 

OK Policy in the News

Policy Analyst and Oklahoma Assets Network coordinator DeVon Douglass spoke to the Journal Record about proposed payday lending regulations. Blatt spoke to NewsOK about the state’s unexpected $100 million surplus ending the fiscal year. Blatt was quoted in a NewsOK article on the proposed salary for the state tobacco trust’s CEO, and in Barry Friedman’s Tulsa Voice piece on the choices Oklahoma makes, and the stories we construct around those choices. OK Policy was included in a round-up of groups asking Governor Fallin to issue an executive order to stop the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s use of card-readers in civil asset seizures.

Weekly What’s That

Child Care/Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax/Child Care Tax Credit is an Oklahoma tax credit that can be claimed by parents of dependent children. Taxpayers can claim the greater of five percent of the federal Child Tax Credit or twenty percent of the federal Child Care Tax Credit. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“In the 21st century, the United States has reinstated a broad system of debtors’ prisons, in effect making it a crime to be poor. If you don’t believe me, come with me to the county jail in Tulsa. On the day I visited, 23 people were incarcerated for failure to pay government fines and fees, including one woman imprisoned because she couldn’t pay a fine for lacking a license plate.”

– New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Oklahoman

The problem with tax cut triggers is that they only pull one way — down. When times are good and revenues are flush, they trigger a tax cut. But when hard times return, they don’t trigger a return to the previous rate.

Numbers of the Day

  • 6,186 – Cases of abuse of vulnerable adults confirmed by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in FY 2015
  • 2,100 – How many fewer jobs there were in Oklahoma in April 2016 compared to April 2015
  • $5 million – Amount Oklahoma borrowed from personal income tax collections in May 2016 to pay corporate income tax refunds that exceeded what was collected in corporate income taxes
  • -14.7% – Decrease in Oklahoma’s total state appropriations budget over the past decade after inflation (FY 2007-FY 2017)
  • 305 – Total number of captive emus in Oklahoma in 2012

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • The myth that fewer people are going to prison [Washington Post]
  • Putting Money Directly in the Pockets of Low-Income Families Appears More Effective than Preschool or Head Start in Improving School Achievement, Brookings’ Whitehurst Finds [Brookings]
  • Rental Assistance to Families with Children at Lowest Point in Decade [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • Obamacare is helping millions get needed healthcare, new survey finds [Los Angeles Times]
  • Old and on the Street: The Graying of America’s Homeless [New York Times]


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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