The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers should listen to Oklahoma voters and pass a comprehensive revenue plan

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

Policy Director Gene Perry, in an editorial for The Oklahoman, urged lawmakers to listen to Oklahoma voters and pass a comprehensive revenue plan during special session that funds a teacher pay raise and core services. Perry also pointed out that Oklahoma taxes are the lowest in our region – we’ve slashed our revenue base by cutting income taxes and allowing tax breaks to grow. This lack of revenue makes budgeting a challenge, and Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argues that a lack of leadership is making budget negotiations even more difficult during special session.

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column made the case that DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in U.S. and be afforded a path to full citizenship. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison walked us through the new regulations for payday lenders issued this month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and urged Congress not to block these new protections.

OK Policy in the News

Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator Kara Joy McKee spoke with Fox25 during the zombie march on the Capitol on Satuday. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler was inteviewed by Reveal News for a piece about rehab work camps and the piece of Oklahoma legislation that exempted some of them from state regulation. OK Policy data was used by the Tulsa World in a story about the importance of great teachers for student success.

Advocacy Alert

The legislature is expected to be called back into special session on October 24th, and they still need to hear from you – revenues must be raised in order to adequately fund core services. Click here to see our Advocacy Alert to find your legislators and to get more information. You can also check out our Special Session FAQs for updated information about what’s happening during the special session.

Upcoming Opportunities

The Save Our State Coalition will be hosting a community conversation in Durant on October 24th.  Join us for this important conversation about how to fix Oklahoma’s broken budget. For more information about this event click here.

We’re excited to announce the release of a new book from Oklahoma Policy Institute! Neglected Oklahoma: Voices from the Margins is a collection of nineteen essays written for the OK Policy Blog over four years by Oklahoma City writer and social justice advocate Camille Landry. Join us for the OKC release party on Nov. 7th, 6:30pm, at Full Circle Bookstore (RSVP here), or the Tulsa release party on Nov. 29th, 6:30pm, at Bound for Glory Books (RSVP here). 

Weekly What’s That

Oklahoma Department of Human Services

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is a state agency that administers a range of programs aimed at helping Oklahomans in need, including food benefits (SNAP); temporary cash assistance (TANF); services for persons with developmental disabilities and persons who are aging; adult protective services; child welfare programs; child support services; child care assistance, licensing and monitoring; and SoonerCare applications and eligibility.

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

Quote of the Week

“We’re just so perplexed that there’s a lot of talk about right-sizing government, but I don’t hear any legislator talking about what the priorities are. Nobody wants your taxes to go up, but tell me what you want to cut then.”

– Craig Jones, President of the Oklahoman Hospital Association, discussing the frustration health care advocates feel about the inability of the state legislature to produce a budget plan during special session (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Shawn Sheehan, Shawn Sheehan Blog

Yes, some things cost more here in Texas. And when we begin to look at buying a house, that’s going to change things, too. But at the end of the day, we have something here in Texas that we likely never would have had teaching in Oklahoma: financial stability. See, in one year, we’ll have made roughly $40k more than we would have. Then, each successive year after that, it’ll be $40k more than it would have been. Three years later and we’re an extra six figures ahead of what we would have made over the same amount of time.

Numbers of the Day

  • -29.8% – Change in Oklahoma’s average monthly participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), 2006-2016
  • 6.2 years – Average prison sentence for Oklahoma women sentenced for drug possession in 2016, a 29 percent increase from a decade ago.
  • $465 million – Net loss of Oklahoma’s state revenue due to the capital gains tax break, 2010-2014, according to a study for Oklahoma’s Incentive Evaluation Commission.
  • $116 – Average cost of fees to obtain an occupational license in Oklahoma
  • 26 – Average number of new crimes per year created by Oklahoma policymakers over the last six years.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • While the rest of the world invests more in education, the U.S. spends less [The Hechinger Report]
  • Millions of drivers lost their licenses for failing to pay court fees, study finds [Washington Post]
  • The Republican Attack on Feeding the Hungry [The Atlantic]
  • Absent Federal Action, States Take The Lead On Curbing Drug Costs [Kaiser Health News]
  • Why Public Health Insurance Could Help, Even if You Don’t Want It [The New York Times]


Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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