The Weekly Wonk January 18, 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, we showed that low- and middle-income Oklahomans pay the highest state and local taxes. Esquire Magazine picked it up on their politics blog, and the Tulsa World reported on the issue – as did the Edmond Sun, the Duncan Banner and Public Radio Tulsa. We also covered the topic on our latest OK PolicyCast. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis discussed the implications of a recent ruling that opens the door for employees to sue employers for on-the-job injury. Policy analyst Carly Putnam shared how Tulsa’s Family Drug Court has already created a great model for criminal justice reform.

New, updated and improved interactive county-level data tables developed by OK Policy staffer Kate Richey provide data on a wide range of economic indicators, including time series data, while an interactive table creator allows users to build comparative tables of state- and county-wide data. In a guest post, Lori Smith, Chief Financial Officer for Edmond Public Schools, delivers questions and answers on school funding. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt examined why a called-for Constitutional Convention could go terribly wrong.

Ticket are still available – although selling quickly – for our 2015 State Budget Summit on Thursday, January 29th. Titled “Mind the Gap: Sensible Budget Policy in Challenging Times,” the event will feature top experts discussing key issues shaping the state’s economic and fiscal outlook, followed by a lunchtime talk with keynote speaker E.J. Dionne. We invite all to attend a screening of “Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes” at Tulsa’s Circle Cinema on Wednesday, January 21st. A discussion with Dr. Robert Kerr, a leading First Amendment scholar and professor in OU’s Gaylord School of Journalism, will follow. 

Quote of the Week

“We are very supportive of Gov. Fallin trying to improve the state health outcomes and we will be happy to work with her, but I think what we’re waiting for is a real political will to tackle the specifics.”

– Oklahoma Hospital Association President Craig Jones, reacting to Governor Fallin’s promise to address public health issues in her second term (Source:

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

The Oklahoman Editorial Board:

Reaction by Bennett to the terrorist outbreak in France last week, and CAIR’S reactions to Bennett, aren’t comparable. The lawmaker has clearly crossed a line into demagoguery that taints him and any who would defend him. Sadly, Speaker Jeff Hickman upheld Bennett’s use of the taxpayer-funded House media office to issue scathing remarks about cherry-picked verses in the Quran.

Numbers of the Day

  • $45,690 – Oklahoma’s median household income in 2013, up 6.7% since 2008.
  • 82% – Percentage of the 44,129 Oklahoma residents who selected plans on between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, 2014 who qualified for financial assistance.
  • 36.2 – Median age in Oklahoma.
  • 95,165 – Number of Oklahomans who have signed up for health insurance or been automatically re-enrolled on since November 15.
  • 127 – Women per 100,000 incarcerated in Oklahoma. The national average is 63.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What we’re Reading

  • Georgia’s efforts to cater to the needs of corporations has left it with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. (The Atlantic)
  • Some 4 million Americans have been left in the cracks of our health care system by states like Oklahoma that are refusing federal funds to provide coverage. (The Washington Post)
  •  Bad public transit keeps people from jobs. (Vox)
  • A new study finds that children who received expanded Medicaid benefits in the 1980s and 1990s contributed more to the U.S. tax system, were more likely to attend college, and less likely to die prematurely in adulthood. (YaleNews)
  • There are strong business and public health reasons for expanding paid sick leave to all workers. (The Washington Post)


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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