Weekly Wonk February 16, 2014

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 Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know. 

This week, we introduced our Oklahoma Legislation Tracker, where we tag key legislation and describe what the proposed law would do and why it matters throughout the legislative session. This new tool joins our 2014 Legislative Primer, our county-level data app, and our CountySTATS2013 fact sheets in our cache of resources freely available to anyone interested in what’s happening in the Oklahoma government. 

In a guest post on the OK Policy blog, OSU professor Dan Rickman suggested that income tax cuts lead to only slight increases in economic activity while substantially decreasing tax revenues. We also reiterated that the Governor’s proposed income tax cuts will save the average Oklahoman only $29 while further endangering underfunded vital public services. The editorial board of The Oklahoman suggested OK Policy was engaging class warfare for explaining how Governor Fallin’s proposed tax cut would affect Oklahomans at different income levels. In the Tulsa World, an editorial quoted OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt while discussing the problem of cutting revenues when state services are already scrambling for funding. The Norman Transcript also quoted Blatt in an editorial opposing the tax cut. You can read more about the proposed budget here.

A group of Oklahomans with longstanding experience on rural issues tackled our Virtual Symposium on Rural Health and Poverty. An upcoming DHS Policy & Practice lecture will discuss communicating respectfully with people who have disabilities. 

In his Journal Record column, Blatt shared the legacy of entrepreneur and philanthropist Henry Zarrow through the story of the two young children of Mexican immigrants. News9 quoted Blatt while reporting on the lack of transparency in tax breaks. Examiner cited OK Policy in their article on the Oklahoma Supreme Court reinstating a lawsuit challenging the state’s voter ID law. We’ve written about the law before. Claremore’s The Daily Progress referenced our work on education funding. Our Education Action Items brief is available here.

 Numbers of the Day

  • 67% – Percentage of nursing home bed days in Oklahoma that were funded by Soonercare (FY 2013)
  • 325,000 – Barrels of crude oil produced per day in Oklahoma in November 2013
  • $16,636 – How much Oklahomans contributed to the low-income health care fund through income tax checkoffs in FY 2013
  • 26% – Percentage of Oklahomans enrolled in health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace who are ages 18-34
  • $2 billion – The amount insurance companies paid out in claims resulting from natural disasters in Oklahoma in 2013

Policy Notes

  • The Wall Street Journal shares stories of Americans trapped in a coverage gap in states refusing federal funds to expand Medicaid.
  • Most entrepreneurs locate startups based on access to talented workers and quality of life factors – not the low-tax,  low-regulation approach that many state and local governments tout, according to Atlantic Cities.
  • Volkswagon is helping a union organize its own plant in Tennessee. Wonkblog discusses why. 
  • MSNBC reports on how Arkansas has successfully insured nearly 100,000 low-income residents with a private alternative to the Medicaid expansion.
  • Demos reveals the racist history of voter disenfranchisement laws. 


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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