The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma still leads the nation for cuts to education

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.

Due to holiday and staff travel, this is the first Weekly Wonk in two weeks, and as such, it’s a big one. 

This Week from OK Policy

 Oklahoma once again leads the nation in education cuts and Policy Director Gene Perry wrote about it. Perry also wrote that the Congressional tax plan would take  Oklahoma’s budget woes national and that the state EITC has been an unfortunate victim of the state’s budget gridlock. A new report by Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler examines options to rebuild trust between law enforcement and Oklahoma communities.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt argued that, despite appearances to the contrary, the tax debate has shifted enormously at the state Legislature. Our post responding to frequently asked questions about the special session(s) has been updated

Policy Analyst Carly Putnam described how one Oklahoma school district is using school meals to fight childhood hunger. In a World AIDS Day guest post, Andy Moore urged Oklahomans to speak up about HIV. On Black Friday, we introduced our first OK Policy Holiday Gift Guide, which is entirely books. 

OK Policy in the News

Recent Democratic wins in Oklahoma drew the attention of both The Atlantic and New York Magazine, and Blatt is quoted in both. He also spoke to NewsOK about why Senator Lankford should oppose the Congressional tax bill, defended Governor Fallin’s veto of the Legislature’s “cash and cuts” bill at the end of the first special session, disputed suggestions that lawmakers should have greater control over program spending, and weighed in on a recent downgrade of Oklahoma’s credit rating. Perry’s analysis of education funding was cited in Ben Felder’s Morning Bell blog on NewsOK. 

Upcoming Opportunities

We’re hiring for two positions! Apply to be our Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator or our Communications Associate today. Applications are accepted through COB tomorrow, December 4th. 

What’s That

Individual mandate

An individual mandate is a requirement that all persons procure a particular good or service. In health care, it refers to the requirement within the Affordable Care Act that all Americans (with some exceptions) be covered by health insurance. The Supreme Court upheld the ACA’s individual mandate in 2012. Read more here.

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

Quote of the Week

“It sounds like a lot of money because it is a lot of money. The days of bailing wire and pliers are over. We have to fund this agency properly. This budget represents exactly what our needs are.”

– Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh, after the state Board of Corrections voted to submit a budget request of $1.5 billion, roughly triple its current state appropriation (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Writers, Tulsa World

Fallin accepted part of the budget, sparing the state’s most vulnerable citizens from threats of horrific service cuts, but the veto certainly means lawmakers will have to return to the Capitol to address the state’s unmet needs: long-term funding solutions to chronic budget holes and teacher pay raises to end the exodus of Oklahoma’s education talent. We hope lawmakers got the message: Fallin won’t waver on core concerns. But she needs the public’s help.

Numbers of the Day

  • 46%  – Share of tax cut given to the richest 1% of Oklahomans by 2027 under the federal House GOP tax proposal
  • -0.8% – Change in inflation-adjusted personal income between 2016 and 2017 in Oklahoma, one of only ten states with negative change
  • 18,722 – Offices requesting information from Oklahoma’s Prescription Monitoring Program in 2016, up from 4,428 in 2011
  • 11,134 – Jail admissions per 100,000 residents age 15-64 in Oklahoma in 2015, up from a low of 6,163 in 1998
  • $3,706 – Health care spending per inmate in Oklahoma prisons in FY 2015. The national median was $5,720
  • 62.6% – Percentage of eligible children enrolled in Head Start in Oklahoma
  • $63.50 – Federal spending per capita on the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in Oklahoma in FY 2016
  • -18.7% – Change in Oklahoma’s state tax collections from their highest point to the first quarter of 2017, the third largest decline among the states
  • 321 – Structurally deficient bridges in Oklahoma in 2016, down from 706 in 2011

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • A Tax Proposal That Could Lift Millions Out of Poverty [The Atlantic].
  • States without personal income taxes lag behind states with the highest top tax rates [ITEP]
  • I looked for a state that’s taken the opioid epidemic seriously. I found Vermont [Vox].
  • To Stop The Cycle Of Poverty, We Need To Invest In Mothers [Huffington Post].
  • The Unsung Role That Ordinary Citizens Played in the Great Crime Decline [NY Times].
  • The Geography of Desperation [CityLab].
  • Kids with School Lunch Debt Still Face Lunch-Shaming, Despite Outrage [Civil Eats]
  • Young people with disabilities more likely to be arrested [Reuters].
  • If you tax the rich, they won’t leave: US data contradicts millionaires’ threats [The Guardian].


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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