Weekly Wonk March 2, 2014

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 Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know. 

On our blog, OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt wrote that moving new state employees away from traditional defined benefit pension plans onto 401(k)s wouldendanger existing pensions and increase costs for taxpayers. OK Policy Director Gene Perry demystified the apparent contradiction between a record high in tax revenue collections and the budget shortfall.

In a guest post, OU professor Dr. Kent Olson called for full accountability for tax cuts. We reported that Oklahomans with developmental disabilities can spend years on the waiting list to receive home- and community-based services. 

In an editorial in The Oklahoman, Blatt argued that a failure to invest in critical state services and infrastructure, not the current income tax rate, put Oklahoma at a competitive disadvantage in attracting business to the state. Blatt’s Journal Record column warned against the state government’s cavalier attitude toward the budget outlook.

Perry spoke to NewsOn6 about the benefits of raising the minimum wage. KGOU has the audio from two panel discussions during our Statewide Budge Summit.

Numbers of the Day

  • 242 – The number of alcohol-related fatal car crashes in Oklahoma in 2012, 37.7 percent of all fatal car crashes that year.
  • 60,000 – Number of Oklahomans making at or below minimum wage in 2013, 6.3 percent of all hourly workers in the state.
  • 42nd – Oklahoma’s rank out of all 50 states on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The state ranked especially poorly for life evaluation, physical health, healthy behaviors and basic access to health care.
  • $826 million – How much the tax cuts put in place from 2005-2012 will reduce income tax revenue in 2015.
  • Nearly 400 – The approximate number of Tulsa Public School teachers who retired or resigned in 2012-13.

Policy Notes

  • Demos describes why wage hikes should be all the rage.
  • Atlantic Cities argues in favor of rapid bus transit.
  • Expanding health coverage provides financial protection, writes the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
  • Bloomburg reports on the sweeping, bipartisan movement to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes.
  • Amazon.com could serve as a delivery model for public health, according to The Health Care Blog.


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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