Weekly Wonk: Governor’s debate panel discussion | Capitol Update | New OK Policy Executive Director Named

What’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

OK Policy Names Shiloh Kantz as Executive Director: OK Policy’s Board of Directors has named Shiloh Kantz — the organization’s longest tenured staff member — as its executive director to lead the organization. Kantz has served the organization since 2010 after being the first employee hired by longtime Executive Director David Blatt. She began her role at OK Policy as office manager and later was promoted to Director of Operations and Development in 2015. In 2018, she was named Deputy Director and has served as Interim Executive Director since June. [OK Policy]

Mansion fundraising controversy, and looking back at how past governors used the facility (Capitol Update): Something of a controversy has developed over Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan to raise about $6.5 million in private funding and build a new governor’s mansion. According to reports, “Friends of the Mansion” has been accepting donations of up to $250,000 from foundations and up to $150,000 from individuals. The controversy has arisen partly because the fundraising was happening outside of public view. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Policy Matters: Election advertising and ‘The Shawshank Redemption’: Much of the inflammatory rhetoric in a modern election cycle is funded by political action committees and so-called “dark money” groups – politically active nonprofits and corporate entities that are not required to publicly disclose their donors. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Governor’s Debate: Post-Debate Panel Discussion (video): Lawmakers, community leaders, and the media participated in a post-debate panel discussion immediately after Wednesday night’s gubernatorial debate between Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and Democratic State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister [Together Oklahoma / YouTube]    

Weekly What’s That

State Question

State Questions are measures to change Oklahoma laws or the state constitution that appear on the ballot for all voters. They can be added to the ballot by the Legislature or by an initiative petition from citizens.

The number of signatures required for a petition to qualify for the balloy is tied to the total number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Constitutional amendments require signatures equaling at least 15 percent of votes cast, statute changes require 8 percent of this vote, and veto referendums require 5 percent.  Most State Questions are voted on during November general elections, but initiative petitions can be placed on the ballot at the time of primary elections or a special election.

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

Quote of the Week

“Simply, for the court to overturn ICWA in this case would be a devastating blow not just to the welfare of our children but to Congressional authority, legal precedent, and to the basic foundations of federal Indian law.”

-Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., commenting on the impact an unfavorable ruling in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court would have on the welfare of children and the “basic foundations of federal Indian law.” [Tulsa World]

Editorial of the Week

Editorial: Everyone has a role in reducing homelessness

Tulsa has shown to be a compassionate and progressive city, often collaboratively finding solutions to tough problems. Never has that been more needed than in addressing homelessness. It takes an entire city, with investments of time, money and other resources from all sectors including the local government.

That’s one of the lessons Tulsa civic, business and government leaders brought back from Denver recently from the 13th Tulsa Regional Chamber’s Intercity Visit program. The city of Denver’s first allocation from general funds to address homelessness was in 2013 with $3 million for affordable housing, as reported by Kevin Canfield.

It has become part of the city’s annual commitment, with $190 million spent on homeless-related programs this year and expected to grow to $254 million next fiscal year. Denver has two dedicated quarter-cent sales taxes for this purpose. Tulsa isn’t as big as Denver, in population or number of people experiencing homelessness. But the number of homeless people in Tulsa has stepped up.

The amount of people living on Tulsa’s streets has increased 40% since last year and those staying in shelters has risen 2%, according to counts held earlier this year.

Getting at the root is a complicated mix of offering enough affordable housing, eviction prevention, mental health and substance abuse services, job placement programs and court diversion options.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum noted this complexity on the visit.

“I have heard so many people throughout the trip talking about homelessness in Tulsa and what can be done. And the concern for me is that I will hear one group of folks, maybe from the business community, talking about how to address the issues that impact them, and I will hear folks from municipal government talking about how to fix the issues that impact them, folks from the nonprofit community talking about how to fix the issues that impact them.

“The big takeaway for me … is there is not one thing that can be done to fix homelessness. It has to be a large, collaborative effort communitywide.”

Traditionally, serving people who are homeless has been left to the nonprofit and faith communities. Municipal governments often serve as pass-throughs to distribute federal or state grants to those groups.

That is no longer enough…

[Read the full editorial from the Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 47th – Oklahoma’s national rank for access to women’s health providers [America’s Health Rankings]
  • 3,461 – Number of children removed from their guardians’ care by the state’s Child Welfare Services between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021. [Oklahoma Department of Human Services Annual Report]
  • 34% – The share of Oklahoma children under age 18 who live in families with incomes less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about 320,000 Oklahoma children. In 2021, a 150% poverty threshold for a family of two adults and two children was $41,218. [KIDS COUNT]
  • $10,000 – The average bail for a felony charge in Oklahoma County, while the average is half that ($5,000) in Tulsa County. Detainees in Tulsa County face misdemeanor bail amounts of $1,000 on average, while those in Oklahoma County usually receive bail set at $500 for misdemeanors. [FWD.us via The Oklahoman]
  • 458.6 – Oklahoma’s rate of violent crime offenses per 100,000 residents in 2020. The national rate was 398.5 per 100,000 residents. [FBI, Crime Data Explorer

What We’re Reading


Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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