The Weekly Wonk February 15, 2015

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know.

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Steve Lewis suggested five ways to fix the budget. We explained what you need to know about this year’s health insurance open enrollment period, which ends today. With the debate over wind energy heating up, we asked four participants in that debate to share their perspectives.

Intern Nikki Hager examines what President Obama’s recent executive order on immigration means for Oklahoma. We posited that gaming revenues might have peaked. The Oklahoma Assets Network event “Who Pays More?”, a townhall forum on predatory lending, on March 4th in Oklahoma City. The “What’s That?” archive has been updated to include HB 1017, the franchise tax and the gross production tax.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt suggested that the best way for Gov. Fallin to reach her stated goal of nearly halving the state’s uninsured rate by 2019 would be to accept federal funds to expand health coverage for low-income Oklahomans. Blatt was also quoted in an article about why doing so isn’t getting traction at the Legislature this year. We’ve previously written about why accepting the funds would be a good deal for Oklahoma.

Blatt wrote in the Tulsa World that Oklahoma lawmakers have set the state up for long-term budget shortfalls, and discussed the Governor’s hiring freeze in the Journal Record. KWGS shared audio of state officials discussing the need for greater oversight of business incentives and tax breaks at our 2015 State Budget Summit.

Quote of the Week

“It’s the equivalent of saying I can’t take a job because it’s going to cost me additional money in gas, clothing and childcare, without considering I’d also make a salary. They look at the expenditure side only, so that’s not a look at a full or fair picture.”

– Executive Director David Blatt, responding to claims by the Governor’s office that accepting federal funds to expand coverage health coverage for low-income Oklahomans would be too costly. Although the state cost to expand coverage is about $850 million over 10 years, net savings from the expansion are estimated at nearly $500 million (Source:

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Oklahoman:

The mental health crisis facing Oklahoma was made crystal clear last week in an Oklahoma County courtroom. With any luck, policymakers were paying attention. District Judge Ray C. Elliott threatened to have Terri White, the head of Oklahoma’s mental health agency, thrown in jail because an inmate who needed treatment hadn’t received it six months after it was ordered. …[The inmate] needs the sort of help available at the Oklahoma Forensic Center, but the facility (capacity: 175) is full and has a list of about 100 others waiting to be admitted.

Numbers of the Day

  • 27.1% – Percentage of Oklahomans aged 18-29 who turned out to vote in 2012, well below the national average of 45 percent.
  • $33,400 – Mean annual wage of a correctional officer in Oklahoma in 2013.
  • 75.1% – Percentage of women incarcerated in Oklahoma in 2013 who had a history of or were currently being treated for a mental disorder.
  • 43 – Number of bank robberies in Oklahoma in 2014, down from more than 60 in 2013.
  • 20 – Number of female homicide victims and domestic violence-related deaths in Tulsa in 2014, a 26-year high.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What we’re Reading:

  • A bakery in Yonkers, New York, will hire anyone who applies for an open position. (The Grist)
  • An overburdened court system has led to thousands of Americans, many of them poor, being wrongfully convicted each year for crimes that don’t make headlines. (The Crime Report)
  • The Obama administration has instituted new rules discouraging nonprofit hospitals from using aggressive tactics to collect payments from low-income patients. (The New York Times)
  • The US government has created a second-class federal prison system specifically for immigrants. (Fusion)
  • Here’s who will lose their health care coverage if the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act this summer. (Governing)



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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