[Weekly Wonk] Labor force policy solutions | Supporting everyday Oklahomans | Taking Pride in Oklahoma standard

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

Protecting Oklahoma’s economy requires labor force-oriented solutions: To protect the long-term health of our economy, Oklahoma’s lawmakers should enact policies that will strengthen Oklahoma’s labor force participation, which has been declining for more than a decade. Policies that invest in our workforce — such as guaranteeing paid family and medical leave, increasing access to child care, investing in mental health care/substance abuse treatment, and bolstering the state Earned Income Tax Credit — will provide Oklahomans the support they need to reenter the workforce, creating a healthier, more prosperous economy for everyone. [Josie Phillips / OK Policy

The Oklahoma Legislature could have done more to support everyday Oklahomans: Oklahoma legislators have it in their power to create a state with healthy families and safe, thriving communities. By protecting the well-being of average Oklahomans, and not just corporations or the wealthy few, Oklahoma can be a place where every person can reach their full potential. While legislators took some positive steps — including ensuring Medicaid funding, providing a needed tenant protection, and protecting state questions — many opportunities to invest in hard-working Oklahomans were left on the table. [Sabine Brown, Gabrielle Jacobi, Josie Phillips, Gabriela Ramirez-Perez, Emma Morris / OK Policy

More ARPA fund spending decisions expected starting in July (Capitol Update): It’s a little difficult to track, but I believe the Legislature so far has appropriated about $202 million of the $1.87 billion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding from the federal government. The state has been a little slow out of the gate, but it looks like legislators are on track to begin making more ARPA spending decisions beginning in July. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy

Policy Matters: Upholding Oklahoma standard may take courage: Ask any Oklahoman, and they’ll know what “the Oklahoma standard” means. It’s evident in the aftermath of any natural disaster, loss, or tragedy – Oklahomans show up for their neighbors. As folks nationwide celebrate June as Pride Month to support our LQBTQ+ communities, it can be difficult to find instances where elected officials and lawmakers are demonstrating the underlying spirit of the Oklahoma standard – that is, leading with compassion – to support our LQBTQ+ friends and family. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record

We’re Hiring!

Join the team: OK Policy is currently hiring for three positions: Youth Justice Policy Analyst and Regional Organizer for Together Oklahoma (two positions, one each for Central Region and Northeast Region).  The application deadline for these positions in July 7, 2022 at 5 p.m. Visit OKPolicy.org/jobs for the full job description and compensation. 

Quote of the Week

“There are discussions to be had about tax policy, state budgets and how to give Oklahomans the services they want and need. Oklahomans should not be overtaxed. But given our state’s already low tax burden and urgent needs, we are urging restraint.”

– Tulsa World Editorial Board [Tulsa World]

Editorial of the Week


Oklahoma is very good at elections.

We are better than most states.

It’s almost funny when Oklahoma politicians talk about election integrity or security or any of the nonsense that tries to tap into conspiracy as a way to stir up engagement.

That’s the part we tend to miss, when you see the funny bills about whatever goofy thing is trending, or people just trying to capitalize on a movement based on pure anger.

The engagement economy means that even if something is despised, its popularity or infamy can generate publicity.

But, our elections?

They’re secure.

They’re efficient.

They’re legit.

Oklahoma’s Election Board does a good job. Payne County’s Election Board does a good job. Our local poll workers are very good volunteers who understand the rules.

Keep that in mind if someone gins up a revolution or mob because they don’t like the results. It’s hard to imagine anyone who would do that, seeing as how our elections are so secure, but you never know.

Thank you to our Election Board. And thanks to our volunteers at the polls.

Vote Tuesday.

[Editorial / Stillwater News Press]

Numbers of the Day

  • 1 in 4 – Proportion of civilian workers with access to paid family leave [U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics]
  • 91% – Percentage of Oklahomans who used the monthly Child Tax Credit funds on basic needs [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • 4.1 million – The 2021 federal CTC expansion will lift an estimated 4.1 million children, including 1.2 million Black and 1.7 million Latino children, above the federal poverty line. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • 460,000 – Number of Oklahoma families who received their final expanded Advanced Child Tax Credit payment in December. [OK Policy]

What We’re Reading


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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