The Weekly Wonk: Going after low-income parents to fix the budget, breaking the impasse, and 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, Policy Director Gene Perry explained how a plan in the works by Legislative leaders would go after low-income parents to fix the state’s revenue problems. We’ve previously presented a number of responsible revenue options. Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column explained how lawmakers could break the impasse over state budget negotiations. Blatt discussed how taxing downloads could work on the OK Policy Blog. 

A guest post by Tiara Blue shared the costs of the state’s failure to adequately fund mental health services. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam discussed why a participation in a school meals program languishes in Oklahoma. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis wrote that child abuse statistics explain how budget policy matters

OK Policy in the News

Blatt and Andy Moore appeared on the podcast We Apologize for the Inconvenience to discuss grassroots efforts to get Oklahomans involved in the political process. Native Times included OK Policy in a roundup of resources for informed voters.

Join the Campaign for a Better Budget

Oklahoma’s massive budget shortfall means that lawmakers face stark choices this year. They can choose devastating cuts to Oklahoma public schools, health care, and other essential services. Or they can shore up the state’s finances and invest in a stronger economy and brighter future for Oklahoma. Click here to learn more

Calling all college students!

  • We are also accepting applications from undergrad and graduate students for our fourth Summer Policy Institute (SPI)! SPI brings together highly-qualified college students from across the state from July 31 to August 3 for a unique opportunity to become better informed about vital Oklahoma policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders in the policy process, and prepare for their future studies and work in public policy-related fields. Learn more and apply here.

Weekly What’s That

Revenue estimates

Oklahoma makes official revenue estimates that determine how much the Legislature is allowed to appropriate in its annual budget for state agencies. The Legislature is limited to appropriating no more than 95 percent of estimated collections. Revenue estimates are produced three times each year. Read more

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

Quote of the Week

“I was shocked and scared the first time I learned I had a warrant on me. My parents, they were terrified. We never thought any time in our lives we’d see something like this. We didn’t do anything that would be close to this kind of thing, the drug thing.”

– Eh Wah, a Burmese musician who had $53,000 in cash donations seized by Muskogee County Sheriff’s Department in a civil asset forfeiture action that was reversed on Monday (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Mike Neal, The Tulsa World

Long before Oklahoma had a budget crisis, it had a health-care crisis.

Long before budget cuts threatened health care for hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors, employer health-care costs were increasing, our most vulnerable residents were without care, physicians were fleeing the state and health-care jobs were being lost.

The Medicaid Rebalancing Act is a prime example of crisis breeding innovation — a creative health-care solution that would solve a lot of budget problems. But as legislators debate this plan, we ask them not to forget the reasons the business community has been clamoring for a health-care solution all along.

Numbers of the Day

  • 8.0% – February 2016 unemployment rate in McIntosh County, the county with the highest unemployment in Oklahoma
  • 23 weeks – The length of time a minimum-wage worker would need to work full time to pay for child care for one infant for a year
  • $3,412,858,517 – Total retail sales for prescription drugs filled at Oklahoma pharmacies in 2015
  • 77.9 years – Life expectancy for Oklahomans in the bottom income quartile, tied with Nevada and Indiana for lowest in the U.S.
  • 42.1% – Share of Oklahoma families able to afford infant care (at a cost of 10% or less of family income)

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • In a fight between nurses and doctors, the nurses are slowly winning [Washington Post]
  • Top medical experts say we should decriminalize all drugs and maybe go even further [Washington Post]
  • Beyond North Carolina’s LGBT Battle [Governing]
  • Growing Up in a Bad Neighborhood Does More Harm Than We Thought [New York Times]
  • Block grants are just budget cuts in disguise — and the targets are antipoverty programs [Los Angeles Times]


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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