The Weekly Wonk: OK Policy announces new staff and expanded leadership team

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

There have been some exciting changes at OK Policy! We have two new staff members – Sabine Brown is our new Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator, and Jessica Vazquez has joined us as a Communications Associate. We’ve also expanded our leadership team. Bailey Perkins and Carly Putnam have joined the leadership team, with Bailey as Outreach & Legislative Director and Carly as Policy Director. The previous Policy Director, Gene Perry, is now serving as Strategy & Communications Director.

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column ran down the unfinished business facing the legislature when they return to the Capitol next week. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argued that new revenues in the Step Up Oklahoma proposal are a good start – but they’re just a start toward fixing our structural budget deficit.

Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler told us about the epidemic of debtor’s prisons in Oklahoma. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison wrote an oped for the Tulsa World about the troubling new direction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt made two appearances in the Tulsa World this week. He weighed in on the legislature’s decision last year to “decouple” from the federal standard deduction in light of changes to federal income tax rules, and expressed concerns about the income tax proposal in the Step Up plan. Gentzler’s work on debtor’s prisons made an appearance in Esquire Magazine.

OK Policy’s statement on last year’s Supreme Court decisions on the constitutionality of repealing tax exemptions with a simple majority vote of the legislature provided context for a piece in The Oklahoman. OK Policy data was used for a story in the Christian Science Monitor about recent proposals to roll back incentives for the wind power industry in Oklahoma.

Advocacy Alerts

A new legislative session starts Monday – make sure you’re ready by signing up for text message alerts!

  • Text OKPOLICY to 51555 to receive all of our updates.
  • Text OKBUDGET to 51555 to receive budget and tax updates.
  • Text OKECON to 51555 to receive economic opportunity updates.
  • Text OKHEALTH to 51555 to receive health care updates.
  • Text OKJUSTICE to 51555 to receive criminal justice updates.

Weekly What’s That

General Revenue Fund

The General Revenue (GR) Fund is the principal funding source for most Oklahoma government operations. Any revenue that is not restricted for a specific purpose flows into the general fund. The Legislature may direct money out of this fund for any legal purpose of the government. Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“It’s a common theme of the last decade: The Indian Nations are stepping up to invest in our communities and our people, and the state of Oklahoma is pulling the rug out from under us. It’s not right. It’s the opposite direction that we should be going.”

– Cherokee Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin, Jr., commenting on tribes’ contributions to public services as state dollars declined in recent years (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World

With all of the attention given the state’s finances, one might think they are the sole subject on legislators’ minds as 2018’s regular session, and a concurrent special session, convene on Monday. One would be wrong. Many a long-lived evergreen still flourishes at the Capitol, reborn in dozens of new pieces of legislation that, for the most part, have little chance of becoming law, but succeed in keeping issues alive.

Numbers of the Day

  • 10.8% – Percentage of Oklahoma jobs in “Professional & Business Services”, below the national average of 14.2%. (Dec. ’17)
  • 35,767 – Number of new handgun licenses approved in Oklahoma in 2017.
  • $1 billion – Total amount saved by Oklahoma families in 529 college savings plans.
  • 66.7% – Percentage of workers earning minimum wage or less in Oklahoma who are women (2016)
  • $7,000 – How much Oklahoma’s average teacher salaries would need to increase to match the state’s average cost-of-living

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Two Lessons of the Urban Crime Decline [NY Times]
  • Massive new data set suggests economic inequality is about to get even worse [Washington Post]
  • Kansas Provides Compelling Evidence of Failure of “Supply-Side” Tax Cuts [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • Kentucky’s New Idea for Medicaid Access: Pass Health Literacy Course [The New York Times]
  • Ignoring rural areas won’t solve America’s mass incarceration problem [USA Today]


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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