The Weekly Wonk: Education cuts hitting all aspects of public education

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

In our fourth, and final, post on key bills to watch this session Strategy & Communications Director Gene Perry ran down the education bills we’ll be paying attention to. Executive Director David Blatt reminded us of the consequences of cuts to education funding over the last decade. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler explained how SQ 780, that went into effect last July, is already making a difference in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system.

Blatt’s Journal Record column argues that there is still hope for a budget deal that will address our structural budget deficit and adequately fund core services. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update implores legislative leadership to find a deal that can pass – that means it will have to be acceptable to both political parties.

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. It is quite common for the language of a committee substitute to be entirely different from previous versions of a bill, especially in the House of Representatives when a bill is introduced as a shell bill.

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

Quote of the Week

“We really are at a tipping point. In addition to the five teachers we lost to Kansas last year, we have 12 teachers who are emergency certified. We are hiring people we wouldn’t have even interviewed just a few years ago because there aren’t more qualified applicants. Bottom line, that’s impacting kids and it’s below the standard of what’s expected in our community.”

– Chuck McCauley, Superintendent of Bartlesville Public Schools, on the possible teacher walkout being discussed around Oklahoma (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Writers, Tulsa World

A Republican legislator wants to make it harder for the people of Oklahoma to write their own laws. Practically speaking, he wants to make it impossible. Under current law, routine initiative petitions go to a vote of the people if they can obtain a total number of registered voter signatures equal to 8 percent of those taking part in the most recent general election. For changes to the state Constitution, the minimum is 15 percent. For challenges to laws passed by the Legislature, it’s 5 percent. House Bill 1603 would add a new requirement: Such petition would have to get those minimums statewide and in each of the state’s 77 counties. Essentially, that gives the voters in any county a veto over whether petitions will go to a vote, regardless of what the people in the rest of the state think. For all practical purposes, that would be an impossible hurdle and would make the initiative petition authority meaningless.

Numbers of the Day

  • 66 – Number of counties in Oklahoma that are medically underserved, meaning there are not enough health professionals to meet the community’s medical needs
  • 10.4% – Average percentage of Oklahoma legislators who are women from 1975 to 2018
  • 15.4% – Percentage of adults in Oklahoma who report being unable to see a doctor due to prohibitive costs
  • 37.2% – Percentage of management jobs in Oklahoma held by women (2016)
  • 45,373 – Number of women in Oklahoma age 85 years and over, 1.8 times more than the number of men at that age (2016)

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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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