The Weekly Wonk: Per pupil education funding, reasons for worry and hope, judicial elections, and 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, Policy Director Gene Perry shared new research showing that Oklahoma still leads the nation in per-pupil education cuts since the recession. A guest post from Carl Davis of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy argued that a private school tax subsidy blurs the line between charitable giving and money laundering. Intern Chelsea Fiedler updated a blog post on judicial elections.

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote that claims that SQ 777 will fight food insecurity are red herrings. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update outlined reasons for worry and hope in the next Legislature. 

OK Policy in the News

Perry spoke to the Tulsa World, The Oklahoman, and KWGS about Oklahoma’s education funding cuts. 

Oklahoma 2016 State Questions and Elections

Oklahoma’s statewide general election is Tuesday, November 8th! You can learn more about voting logistics here with our 2016 Oklahoma Election Guide. In addition, you can learn more about the seven state questions that will be on the ballot with our 2016 Oklahoma State Question Guide.

Weekly What’s That

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is the nation’s largest public food assistance program. Its primary purpose is to increase the food purchasing power of eligible low-income households in order to improve their nutrition and alleviate hunger. To be eligible for SNAP, a household must have gross monthly income (income before any of the program’s deductions are applied) at or below 130 percent of the poverty line and net income (income after deductions are applied) at or below the poverty line. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“For one, I think it shows the will of the people to make a decision – are you for treatment and actually improving the health of individuals who are struggling with these illnesses? Is the Oklahoma Standard to provide these resources to individuals who are struggling with chronic illnesses that are diseases of the brain, or is it to be punitive and lock them up to get them out of the way and out of our society for a limited period of time without solving or addressing the issues that really plague these individuals, which are illnesses? I think we’ll find out on Nov. 8.”

– State Health Commissioner Terry Cline, on State Questions 780 and 781, which would reclassify some drug crimes and invest the savings in treatment (Source). OK Policy’s fact sheet on State Questions 780 and 781 are available here.

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Tulsa World

Oklahoma has a revenue problem: We don’t have enough money to do the things that have to be done. The result is four-day-a-week public schools, dangerously overcrowded prisons, and talk of state highway patrol furloughs. …The Legislature didn’t get many things right this year, but in agreeing to revitalize the enforcement mechanism of the tax commissioner it took a stand for good government and fairness.

Numbers of the Day

  • $8.90 – Median hourly wage for an Oklahoma child care worker in 2015, a 4% decrease since 2010.
  • 4th – Oklahoma’s worldwide ranking for incarceration rate if every U.S. state and territory were a country.
  • 7 – Number of judges that Oklahoma voters will decide whether or not to retain in office in this year’s November election.
  • 6,210 – Number of male students without disabilities in Oklahoma who were subject to corporal punishment in 2011-2012, compared to 1,735 female students.
  • 5.6% – Percent of employed wage and salary workers in Oklahoma who were members of a labor union in 2015.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • The Cities That Are Fighting Back Against State Intervention [CityLab]
  • Why Are Politicians So Obsessed With Manufacturing? [New York Times Magazine]
  • Striking new research on inequality: ‘Whatever you thought, it’s worse’ [Washington Post]
  • How Geography Affects Low-Income Americans [Pacific Standard]
  • Native American Colleges Have Abandoned The Student Loan System [Buzzfeed]


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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