The Weekly Wonk: Elections have consequences; what a federal education law means for Oklahoma; & 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 on the OK Policy blog, Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update explained that elections are how voters stake out where they want their legislators to compromise and where they want them to hold the line. Executive Director David Blatt suggested that adopting the National Popular Vote would make Oklahomans’ Presidential votes matter.

In his Journal Record column, Blatt wrote about the implications of a surprise $100 million surplus at the end of the fiscal year. Summer intern Kylie Thomas broke down what new federal education standards will mean in Oklahoma. 

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to Oklahoma Watch about a new state business incentive review panel, and to NBC about Governor Fallin’s legacy in an article about her prospects as Donald Trump’s vice presidential nominee. The Sequoyah County Times quoted Blatt in a piece on the state’s unexpected budget surplus. Policy Director Gene Perry talked to KFOR about education advocates and Tuesday’s elections.

Weekly What’s That

State Aid

State Aid represents the funds that are appropriated by the State Legislature for school districts, and distributed by the State Department of Education through the State Aid Formula. State Aid is based primarily on the number of students attending in each district, with allowances made for various student characteristics represented as grade and categorical weights. For example, a 3rd grader may “weigh” 1.051 points in the state aid formula, while a 1st or 2nd grader counts as 1.351 points. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“We give away too many millions of dollars in tax credits to oil and gas companies. I have nieces and nephews, and I want them to be educated, too.”

– Greg Gatewood, a 50-year old architect who voted in Tulsa on Tuesday. Tuesday’s elections were broadly viewed as a referendum on public education in Oklahoma (Source). 

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Tulsa World

The state budget approved by the Legislature in May and going into effect on Friday is inadequate. Core state services are underfunded and the result is that Oklahomans will be ill-educated, ill-treated and underserved.

Numbers of the Day

  • 19.5% – Percent of Oklahoma adults who said they did not have enough money to buy food sometime in the past 12 months (2015), the 4th highest in percentage US
  • $4 – How much higher the median wage for white hourly workers in Oklahoma ($18/hr) is compared to people of color ($14/hr), a 29% disparity
  • 15.7 – Deaths due to firearms per 100,000 Oklahomans in 2014, the 9th highest rate in the US
  • 14.9% – Percent of black households in Oklahoma without a car in 2012, versus 5.6% of households without cars statewide
  • $47,199 – Median annual household income in Oklahoma in 2014, 12th lowest in the US

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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