Weekly Wonk: Looking ahead to session | Updating state drug court statute | We’re hiring

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

Policy Matters: 2022 legislative session approaches: Following the conclusion of the legislative session in May, staff from the Oklahoma Policy Institute and its Together Oklahoma grassroots advocacy program talked with folks statewide about their most pressing needs. Regardless of which part of the state we call home, Oklahomans want to be able to live healthy lives, raise thriving families, and live in safe communities. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record] | [OK Policy 2022 Policy Priorities]

Updating state’s drug court statute could reduce overdose deaths (Capitol Update): The Center for Disease Control released figures recently showing that 100,000 Americans died from a drug overdose between April 2020 and April 2021, nearly 30 percent more than the previous year. Of those, 798 people died in Oklahoma, a 20 percent increase. According to published reports in the Tulsa World, Dr. Jason Beaman, director of training and education at OSU’s National Center for Wellness and Recovery, said heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl are the big drivers of overdose deaths now.  [Capitol Update / Steve Lewis]

Upcoming Opportunities

We’re Hiring! Join the team as a Data Analyst: The Oklahoma Policy Institute is currently hiring for a Data Analyst to carry out critical data-driven research projects, using the Open Justice Oklahoma database to turn court, prison, and jail administrative records into data that supports efforts to create a more open and equitable justice system. Applications for this position close on January 4, 2022 at 5:00 PM (CST). [OK Policy]

Weekly What’s That

Child Care/Child Tax Credit

The Child Tax/Child Care Tax Credit is an Oklahoma tax credit that can be claimed by parents of dependent children. Taxpayers can claim the greater of five percent of the federal Child Tax Credit or twenty percent of the federal Child Care Tax Credit. In both cases, federal adjusted gross income cannot exceed $100,000 for married couples filing jointly. 

Until 2021, the federal child tax credit provided a credit of up to $2,000 per child under age 17. If the credit exceeded taxes owed, families could receive up to $1,400 per child as a refund. Other dependents—including children ages 17–18 and full-time college students ages 19–24—could receive a nonrefundable credit of up to $500 each. Under the American Rescue Plan Act (2021), the credit was increased to $3,600 under age 6 and to $3,000 for children age 6-17. The credit was made fully refundable and most families will receive a monthly payment of $250 or $300 per child . The Rescue Plan Act’s increase in the maximum credit amount begins to phase out for single heads of households making $112,500, and married couples making $150,000. This expansion in the credit was only for 2021, but could be extended or made permanent by Congress.

For Fiscal Year 2020, the credit was claimed on 367,145 Oklahoma tax returns for a total amount of $42.9 million, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s Tax Expenditure Report.

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

Quote of the Week

“No one should ever have to worry about, ‘How long am I going to have to ride this out before I go to see what’s wrong?’ That’s how things get worse.”

-Danielle Gaddis, a 26-year-old Oklahoman who had been uninsured for two years before enrolling in Medicaid expansion this summer. When she was uninsured, she was reluctant to see a doctor during that time, fearing the medical bills. She starts medical school in August. [Kaiser Health News]

Editorial of the Week

Oklahomans, community leaders must be vigilant against COVID with new variant, early surge

An Oklahoma surge in COVID-19 arrived sooner than expected, just as a new variant is being battled in South Africa, Europe and China.

Projections for the state’s rise in the virus is not anticipated to be worse than the summer peak, but only if a new variant doesn’t take hold, according to a story from reporter Corey Jones.

For months, that concern has been the delta variant. Now, the identification of the new omicron variant in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Belgium and Hong Kong makes this even more troubling.

It was first detected in Botswana and cases are being investigated in other countries including the Czech Republic, Austria, Israel and the Netherlands. More countries are confirming omicron cases daily.

Countries are working fast to contain the omicron variant from spreading. President Joe Biden joined international leaders in enacting travel restrictions to certain countries. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson brought back face mask requirements for public buildings and transportation.

Much is unknown about the omicron variant, but researchers are concerned that it will be more infectious. Early testing indicates the omicron variant is outpacing delta in South Africa…

[Read Full Editorial at Tulsa World]

Numbers of the Day

  • 57% – More than half of respondents (57%) in a recently released Federal Reserve survey said COVID-19 was causing a significant disruption to services for children, with 77% noting that conditions were still worse than they were pre-pandemic. [Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis]
  • $10.6 million – Oklahoma’s Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) — working with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and OK Policy — last year calculated annual savings of $10.6 million from decreased incarceration resulting from State Question 780. State Question 781 requires the Legislature to deposit those savings into the County Community Safety Investment Fund to help fund local substance abuse and mental health treatment. However, in the four state budgets passed since SQ 780 was enacted, the Legislature has failed to make any deposit at all to that fund. [OMES] | [Additional Analysis from OK Policy’s Ryan Gentzler via NonDoc] | [About SQ 780 & SQ 781]
  • 220,988 – Total number of Oklahomans approved for health care benefits through Medicaid expansion since June 1, 2021 (as of 12/1/21) [Oklahoma Health Care Authority]
  • 114,000 – Estimated number of Oklahoma children at risk of slipping back below the poverty line or deeper into poverty if the federal Child Tax Credit expansion is not extended [CBPP
  • 515 – Oklahoma’s three-day average of people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 158 under intensive care. This marked the first time since late October that the number was above 500. [Oklahoma State Department of Health via AP News]

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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