The Weekly Wonk January 25, 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 revealed that the one-year price tag for Oklahoma’s oil and gas tax breaks will top $500 million this year. We shared three barriers that prevent Oklahomans with felony convictions from putting their lives back together. A former OK Policy intern and current Ph.D. student at Stanford explained why Governor Fallin should embrace President Obama’s community college plan.

A post by OK Policy Research Fellow Michael Thomas made the case for strengthening higher education in Oklahoma. In his weekly Capitol Update, Steve Lewis discussed state House Speaker Jeff Hickman’s warning that Oklahoma’s prisons are “one lawsuit away” from federal takeover.

Oklahoma Assets Network, coordinated by OK Policy staffer Kate Richey, is pleased to announce “Who Pays More?: A Town Hall on Predatory Lending in Oklahoma” on Wednesday, March 4, in Oklahoma City. The event will be open to the public, but space is limited; click here to reserve your ticket.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt discusses a new report showing that low-income households pay a greater share of their income in taxes than wealthy households. We shared Oklahoma-specific data here. The Norman Transcript covered the report here. Blatt appeared on KOSU’s This Week in Oklahoma Politics, where he talked about expanding health coverage to low-income Oklahomans, raising teacher pay, and more.

OK Policy Research Fellow Ryan Gentzler and OK Policy Intern Shaheen Sheikh were featured in a Tulsa People piece on OU-Tulsa’s Masters of Public Administration program. OK Policy intern Nikki Hager talked to staffer Kate Richey about deferred action in TU’s The Collegian.

Quote of the Week

“Any way you look at it, that’s a whole bunch of money.”

-OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt, speaking about new data showing that Oklahoma’s tax breaks for oil and gas production will cost $516 million this year alone (Source:

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Editorial of the Week

The Tulsa World Editorial Board:

Complex, innovative ideas sometimes are shelved in the legislative process, especially when more urgent crises seem to be waiting on the steps of the Capitol every day. We hope that isn’t the fate of Holt’s election reform initiative. It deserves consideration, and those elements that are affordable and fit well with what Oklahomans want in their election process should be approved.

Read our “Broken Democracy” report, and watch our video on “Repairing Oklahoma’s Broken Democracy.”

Numbers of the Day

  • 14,000 – Number of abandoned well sites cleaned up by the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board since 1994 (as of December 2014)
  • $5,652 – Annual income level at which a family of 3 makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid in Oklahoma.
  • 63.9 percent – Percentage of children receiving the full series of childhood vaccinations in Oklahoma in 2013, third lowest in the nation.
  • 52.5 percent – Percentage of women incarcerated in Oklahoma who ran away from home before age 18.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What we’re Reading:

  • Driver’s license suspensions unfairly target the poor. (NPR)
  • Here’s a guide to the policies proposed by President Obama at last night’s State of the Union address. (Vox)
  • Predatory lenders drain income and wealth from economically vulnerable communities. (Center on Race and Wealth)
  • Racial inclusion is key to growing a strong economy. (PolicyLink


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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