Weekly Wonk: FY 2019 Budget Highlights, Farm Bill response, and a new OK PolicyCast

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 we released the FY 2019 Budget Highlights, which noted that although next year’s appropriations will be the largest in state history, when adjusted for inflation, it still remains 9.4 percent ($788 million) below the budget of FY 2009. We also re-launched our podcast, OK PolicyCast, where we explored what just happened in one of the most tumultuous legislative years in Oklahoma history. Spring Intern Lydia Lapidus recounted a recent proposal by the Tulsa City Council to fine parents of truant students and explained that Tulsa has better options than punitive responses to truancy and homelessness.

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote about Oklahoma’s rapid and unprecedented decline in legislative tenure, which may ultimately leave the Oklahoma legislature with a brand-new House – and Senate! On a related note, Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update described this year’s legislative session as a wild ride for first-term legislators, likening these freshman legislators to “combat-weary veterans” who will be welcoming a new class of forty or fifty members in November.

Policy analyst Courtney Cullison wrote a joint op-ed with Oklahoma anti-hunger advocates about the threat of harsh SNAP cuts in a Farm Bill being considered by the U.S. Congress. OK Policy released a statement following the Farm Bill’s failed vote in the U.S. House that Congress must reverse their attacks on SNAP to get a bill that can pass.

OK Policy in the News

The Tulsa World quoted David Blatt about attempts to understand what happened in the State Department of Health’s financial mess. The Enid News & Eagle quoted Blatt about the Oklahoma gubernatorial candidates taking anti-tax pledges. The Tahlequah Daily Press reported on a meeting of Cherokee County Retired Educators where OK Policy was recommended as a valuable source of information. Sandite Pride News cited OK Policy’s budget data in a story about an Oklahoma House candidate running in Sand Springs.

Upcoming Opportunities

There’s less than a week left to apply for the 2018 Summer Policy Institute! This annual event brings together more than 50 highly-qualified undergraduate and graduate students for an exciting and stimulating four-day learning experience. The Institute involves a combination of seminars, panels, workshops and keynote addresses involving leading policy experts from government, academia and community organizations. Click here for the full details.

Mark you calendars — June 1st is the deadline to register to vote in the July primaries. For a full list of deadlines and dates to remember for the 2018 Oklahoma Elections, check out this Together Oklahoma graphic on Facebook and Twitter.

We’re teaming up with Magic City Books and Booksmart Tulsa for a compelling conversation with Harvard University professor, Danielle Allen. Join us Wednesday, June 6 at 7 PM at the TCC Center for Creativity for Black Lives Lost: An Evening with Danielle Allen.

Weekly What’s That

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is the nation’s largest public food assistance program. Its primary purpose is to increase the food purchasing power of eligible low-income households in order to improve their nutrition and alleviate hunger. To be eligible for SNAP, a household must have gross monthly income (income before any of the program’s deductions are applied) at or below 130 percent of the poverty line and net income (income after deductions are applied) at or below the poverty line. In Oklahoma, 385,183 households and 850,855 total persons received SNAP benefits at some point in FY 2017. Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“I asked, ‘What’s wrong?’ And he said, ‘Mr. Chandler, you suspended me for three days and I didn’t eat.'”

– David Chandler, principal at Douglass Middle school in Oklahoma City, who has been working to find alternatives to school suspensions after seeing the harm they can do to students [Source].

Editorial of the Week

Chris Bernard, Eileen Bradshaw, Courtney Cullison and Katie Fitzgerald, Tulsa World

Some of the most drastic changes in the committee bill relate to work requirements. SNAP already has a work requirement, but the new Farm Bill would require more families who need help affording food to meet more onerous requirements, and to do so more often. Most adults with children would now be required to work at least 20 hours per week, and prove that they’re doing so each month. For low-wage workers — the very people SNAP helps — this can be a huge hurdle, as these workers have little control over how many hours they’re scheduled to work. And hourly workers typically don’t get paid sick leave, meaning that staying home with a sick child for one or two days could put them below 20 hours. As a result, these new rules penalize people who are already working, by putting them at risk of losing the food assistance they need whenever they fail to meet the 20-hour requirement [Source].

Numbers of the Day

  • 50th – Oklahoma’s ranking in the 2018 Scorecard on State Health System Performance
  • 26% – Percentage of Oklahoma legislative seats up for a vote this year that will have no contested race in the general election, down from 62 percent in 2014
  • 29.5% – Percentage of high school students in Oklahoma who reported participating in 60 minutes of daily exercise in 2017. In that same year, 33.6% were reported overweight or obese
  • 64% – Share of Oklahomans in working households eligible for SNAP who received food assistance from the program in 2015
  • 28.4% – Percentage of Oklahoma high school students who reported being sexually active in 2017. Of those, only 49.8% reported using a condom

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • A Republican plan could worsen rural America’s food crisis [The Atlantic]
  • Fed officials worry the economy is too good. Workers still feel left behind [The New York Times].
  • House Farm Bill’s SNAP changes are a bad deal for states and low-income households [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].
  • A loophole in Federal law allows companies to pay disabled workers $1 an hour [Vox].
  • How Medicaid Work Requirements Can Exempt Rural Whites but Not Urban Blacks [Vox].


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.