The Weekly Wonk: Do lawmakers have a backup plan for the budget?

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 broke down the latest version of the Senate Republican health care bill, pointing out that this bill doesn’t fix the core problems of their first draft – it actually makes some of them worse. Perry also urged state leaders not to neglect early childhood education in his Journal Record column.  Oklahoma has had success with our pre-school programs and we need to continue working to preserve those educational gains.

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis wonders in state lawmakers have a budget backup plan if the courts find that parts of next year’s budget are unconstitutional. Perry helps us to understand the dispute between Speaker McCall and Rep. Osborn about the recent cuts announced by DHS.

OK Policy in the News

Perry spoke with The Oklahoman about the Senate Republican’s difficulty passing a health care reform package – the Affordable Care Act did benefit millions of Americans and taking away those benefits now would be reckless. OK Policy data made an appearance in two stories about education funding – the Tahlequah Daily Press discussed the consequences of cuts to higher education funding in the state, while Yahoo! News introduced us to a Tulsa teacher who is panhandling to buy classroom supplies.

Weekly What’s That

Per Capita Cap

Like a block grant, a per capita cap is a federal strategy to limit federal spending on safety net programs while transferring a greater share of the responsibility and costs to states. Per capita caps are most frequently suggested as a way to reform Medicaid, the country’s health insurance program for low-income children and families. Under current law, programs like Medicaid are entitlements, funded by a combination of state and federal dollars ​and available to anyone who is eligible. Read more here.

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

Quote of the Week

“The Legislature is responsible for the cuts. It knew that the funding levels it was considering were inadequate, but passed them anyway. The fact that lawmakers didn’t take the time to write a line-item budget (and, thus, acknowledge responsibility) is no excuse.” 

– Tulsa World Editorial Board, pushing back against claims by House leadership that DHS unnecessarily cut programs for foster families, seniors, and people with disabilities (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Michael Overall, Tulsa World

Unless it’s about football or methamphetamine, Oklahomans will instinctively read a list from the bottom up when the states are being ranked on something. When it’s a ranking of “workforce education,” for example, you know you’re not going to see us in the Top 10. So you start at 50 and work your way up and you’ll quickly find us at No. 41. Health and fitness? We’re barely ahead of Mississippi and Kentucky. Public schools? We recently slipped one place to No. 47. Infrastructure and bridges? 42nd.

Numbers of the Day

  • 54.6% – Share of U.S. workers earning at or below the minimum wage who are age 25 or older, 2016
  • 19% – Share of non-elderly Oklahoma SNAP recipients with disabilities, 2013-2015
  • 632,030 – Number of Oklahomans who are food-insecure, 2015
  • 13 – Number of home health and personal care aides for every 100 adults with disabilities in Oklahoma, 2013-2015
  • $119 – Average monthly SNAP benefit per person in Oklahoma, 2016

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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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