The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma’s prisons are still on a path to disaster; Six takeaways from Oklahoma’s new budget estimates; & 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 Ryan Gentzler explained how Oklahoma’s prisons are still on a path to disaster. Executive Director David Blatt shared six takeaways from Oklahoma’s new budget estimates. In addition, we shared a statement on December’s revenue certification and what it means for the state budget. 

In his Journal Record columns, Blatt wrote that a “repeal and delay” of the Affordable Care Act would disrupt care for millions, detailed how lawmakers can restore a tax credit that works, and hoped that leadership’s recognition of the state’s revenue problem could prompt meaningful action

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to NewsOK about the possibility of raising the gas tax, and to the Altus Times about options for filling the budget hole. The Tahlequah Daily Press quoted our statement on the December revenue certification, and Think Progress cited OK Policy data in a discussion of state safety net funding and anti-abortion legislation. 

The Oklahoma Gazette profiled Together Oklahoma’s work helping Oklahomans connect with their legislators and advocate effectively, coordinated by OK Policy staffer Kara Joy McKee. You can learn more about Together Oklahoma here. The Tulsa World selected former OK Policy economic opportunity and poverty policy analyst DeVon Douglass, who recently moved into a position as the city’s chief resilience officer, as one of Tulsa’s People to Watch. 

Weekly What’s That


The term “dual-eligible” refers to people who are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid at the same time. They usually qualify for Medicare Part A (primarily covers hospital care) and/or Part B (medical insurance; mostly covers doctor’s visits, outpatient procedurse, health care supplies, and preventive care), as well as 1) a Medicare Savings program, or 2) Medicaid benefits. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“For those who say that we don’t have a revenue problem, I will say this, ‘You don’t have to say it with words because your actions are showing it.’ If you have to use a half a billion dollars every single year in your budget to spend more than your recurring revenues will allow, that shows a revenue problem.”

– State Treasurer Ken Miller, on the revenue shortfall for next year (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Norman Transcript

The state of Oklahoma projects a significant budget deficit. Gov. Mary Fallin’s solution is to increase sales taxes. Sound familiar? We’ve already been through this earlier in 2016, when a looming $1.3 billion budget deficit and failed cigarette tax increase dominated headlines in the first quarter. Now, facing another massive deficit quickly shooting toward $1 billion, Fallin has suggested the cigarette tax again, in addition to eliminating some sales tax exemptions, to fill the gap.

Numbers of the Day

  • 11.2% – Percentage of Oklahomans who have Type 2 Diabetes, 2014
  • 31% – Estimated share of non-elderly Oklahomans with pre-existing conditions for which insurance coverage could be declined under pre-Affordable Care Act health insurance practices, about 706,000 people
  • $560 million – Yearly cost of uncompensated care in all Oklahoma hospitals
  • 19 – Number of women legislators in the upcoming 2017 Oklahoma legislative session. Only Wyoming will have a smaller share of female legislators in 2017 (11 percent, versus Oklahoma’s 13 percent)
  • 56% – Percentage of high school graduates meeting college readiness benchmarks on the ACT and SAT, 2014
  • 31.4% – Percent of Oklahoma adults who reported not participating in any physical activity in the last month in 2012
  • 3rd – Oklahoma’s national rank in heart disease mortality, 2012
  • 46% – Percent of Oklahoma nursing homes that received a 1- or 2-star rating by the Centers for Medicare and MedicaidServices in 2015. The rating scale for nursing homes is 1-5 stars, with 5 being the best and 1 being the worst

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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