The Weekly Wonk: Missing out by not expanding Medicaid; new rules to curtail predatory lending; & more

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

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Policy Analyst Carly Putnam explored a review of dozens of studies on Medicaid expansions and concluded that Oklahoma is missing out by refusing to expand the program. Policy Analyst and Oklahoma Assets Network coordinator DeVon Douglass explained how new federal rules around payday lending can help keep Oklahomans out of debt traps

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt pointed out that for all the suggestions around what to do with the state’s $140 million surplus, no one has suggested turning it into a tax cut or tax refund. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update discussed whether that $140 million is one-time funding. On the Together Oklahoma Blog, Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator Kara Joy McKee celebrated our recently-concluded Summer Policy Institute and announced our upcoming Fall Policy Boot Camps (FallPol). Finally, we announced two October events featuring author Tamara Draut and her recent book, Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America. 

OK Policy in the News

The Tulsa World referenced OK Policy an OK Policy blog in an article on rural poverty. The Editorial Boards of both The Tulsa World and The Oklahoman further cited the post in following editorials. The referenced blog post is available here. In addition, The Oklahoman’s Editorial Board quoted our FY2017 State Budget Highlights while discussing state budgeting issues. An OETA segment on SQ 777 (“Right to Farm”) included footage from a debate on the subject held as part of our Summer Policy Institute.

Weekly What’s That


Under Section 134 of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), states have the option to make Medicaid benefits available to children with physical or mental disabilities, regardless of family income, and allows children requiring institutional level of services to be cared for in their homes. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“We can spend $15,000 for failure or $6,000 for success. States that have done this — addressed the root of the issue — have decreased their crime rate.”

– Former House Speaker and a leader of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform Kris Steele, who said Oklahoma spends on average $15,000 per year to incarcerate someone and $6,000 for treatment and community supervision (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, Tulsa World

The sad thing is that the disruption of the prescription drug market comes at a time when the state is reducing its already inadequate services to treat drug abuse. State appropriations to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services are down 4.66 percent from the unfulfilled budget levels of 2016. In March, responding to a state fiscal failure, the department cut treatment access to more than 73,000 low-income Oklahomans with mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

Numbers of the Day

  • 13.7% – Share of U.S. oil and gas rigs being operated in Oklahoma, June 2016
  • 7,195 – Number of full-time sworn law enforcement employees with “full arrest power” in Oklahoma, 2015
  • 4.1 – The average number of poor mental health days in the last 30 days reported by Oklahomans in 2016. The national average was 3.7
  • 2 – Number of people living in Lotsee, the least-populous incorporated town in Oklahoma
  • 18% – Percentage of low-income Oklahomans who describe their oral health as poor, compared to 3% of high-income Oklahomans

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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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