The Weekly Wonk: Why poverty in Oklahoma is being compared to a Third World nation, & 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, Executive Director David Blatt explained why New York Times columnist Nick Kristof traveled to Oklahoma to examine deep poverty. Kristof’s column is available here. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis discussed the implications of incumbents defeated in June’s primary

Blatt’s Journal Record column highlighted the importance of lifting the child care subsidy freeze. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam previously wrote that even before the freeze, child care was getting less accessible for Oklahoma’s working families. With the news that Kevin Durant was leaving for California (and its top income tax rate of 13.3 percent), we reran a post debunking the myth that Americans’ migration patterns are based on state personal income tax rate.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke The Woodward News about how increasing fees and fines squeeze average Oklahomans. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler previously wrote that rather than reining in fees and fines, last-minute legislation instead hiked them further.

Weekly What’s That

Fiscal year

A fiscal year (usually abbreviated ‘FY’) is the period used for calculating annual budgets. The state of Oklahoma’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Each fiscal year is named after the calendar year that it ends in. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“The question: How can essential state services meet the demands of a growing population when budgets are declining and costs are rising? The answer: It’s not possible.”

– Arnold Hamilton, editor of The Oklahoma Observer, in his Journal Record column (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Dr. Gerard Clancy, The Tulsa World

Candidates ran on a platform pushing the smallest possible government and the lowest possible tax burden. It all sounded so good but soon this platform became an addiction. Like an addiction, all logic was ignored around the importance of education, health and economic opportunity. No matter the damage to our children’s future, and ourselves we pushed for and elected proponents of smaller government and lower taxes.

Numbers of the Day

  • 69.9 – Birth rate per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in Oklahoma in 2014, 9th highest in the US
  • 17% – Poverty rate for Oklahoma families with children in 2014
  • 27% – Percentage of Oklahoma children who experienced food insecurity in 2013
  • 23,536  – Total number of children who participated in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) in Oklahoma in 2015

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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