Weekly Wonk: Paid family and medical leave assists working families | Legislative maneuvering is bad governance | Charter school funding

What’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’s edition of The Weekly Wonk was published with contributions from Communications Intern Lilly Strom.

This Week from OK Policy

Well-designed paid family and medical leave programs assist working families: Paid family and medical leave is a policy that provides employees who have paid a set amount into the system with a certain amount of paid time off from work to attend to their family, whether it’s caring for a newborn, bonding with a newly adopted child or foster child, or tending to the employee’s or a family member’s severe health condition. [Josie Phillips / OK Policy]

Policy Matters: Just plain bad governance: Oklahomans should expect crystal-clear transparency from their elected officials, along with plentiful opportunities to engage in lawmaking whether through public hearings or testimony from impacted communities. Instead, we’re walking through a carnival fun house where the mirrors distort reality and nothing is as it seems. [Ahniwake Rose / Journal Record]

Weekly What’s That

Committee Substitute

A committee substitute is a revised version of legislation proposed for consideration and adoption by a committee. The committee substitute replaces, in whole, the original bill that was referred to a committee, including conference committees.

It is quite common for the language of a committee substitute to be entirely different from previous versions of a bill, especially in the House of Representatives when a bill is introduced as a shell bill.

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

Quote of the Week

“Whoever has the most power on their end of the rope wins. And that’s what we’re seeing today. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always lead to the best policy. When you have winners and losers, the losers are often left exploited, they are often left demoralized, disenfranchised, marginalized. And that’s why it’s not a good way to make decisions.” 

-Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman, describing recent legislation that changes the state’s education funding model [Oklahoma Watch]

Editorial of the Week

Don’t shift more tax money to charters at the cost of traditional public schools

The state Board of Education voted 4-3 Thursday to settle a long-running suit over tax funding for charter schools.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister opposed the settlement. Gov. Kevin Stitt has supported it, and the four board members who voted for it were his appointees. We agree with Hofmeister.

In July 2017, the Oklahoma Public Charter School Association sued the state seeking a share of revenues from Oklahoma’s gross production, motor vehicle and rural electrification association tax collections, state school land earnings and county tax collections, which currently flow only to traditional public schools.

The proposed settlement would shift tens of millions in tax funds from traditional public schools to charter schools. The biggest losers in that shift would by the Tulsa and Oklahoma City public schools. The biggest winners would be statewide online charters, such as Epic Schools.

The settlement would appear to violate multiple portions of the Oklahoma Constitution. Article 10, Section 9 of the Constitution guarantees local property taxpayers that: “No ad valorem tax shall be levied for state purposes, nor shall any part of the proceeds of any ad valorem tax levy upon any kind of property in this state be used for state purposes.” That’s exactly what we think would be happening if local tax support for public schools were shifted to statewide charter schools.

Beyond the details of school law, the settlement seeks to rework the premise of charter school funding without the involvement of the Legislature, which is undemocratic and wrong. The promise of charter schools was that they would operate on state funding for students and private donations. Invading the local tax bases of public schools reneges on that arrangement, and certainly shouldn’t be accomplished only the say-so of 57% of the unelected state board…

[Read full Tulsa World editorial]

Numbers of the Day

  • 80% – Percentage of U.S. workers without access to paid family and medical leave. [Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics]
  • 9 – Number of states with laws that allow for Paid Family Medical Leave. [Source: Kaiser Family Foundation]
  • 64.2% – Percentage of families with children in the U.S. who have both parents working, highlighting the need for paid family and medical leave. [Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics]
  • 91% – Percentage of small business-owners in California who reported paid family and medical leave having a positive or neutral effect on profitability. [Source: American Progress Institute]
  • 8 – Of the 193 countries in the world, only 8 countries do not offer any form of paid maternal leave. The U.S. is the only wealthy country to not guarantee paid family leave. [Source: NPR]

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Paycheck or caring for family? Without paid leave, people of color often must make the ‘impossible choice’ [USA Today]
  • To Grow Our Economy, Start with Paid Leave [CATO Institute]
  • Maternity leave: US policy is worst on list of the world’s richest countries [The Guardian]
  • Key Takeaways from BPC’s Survey of Small Business Views on Paid Family Leave [Health Affairs]
  • Paid Family Leave Policies And Population Health [Health Affairs]


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

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