Weekly Wonk: Proposed state budget shows promise, but could do more for everyday Oklahomans | Last-minute budget deals harmful | Capitol Update

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 from OK Policy

Statement: FY2024 state budget proposal has promise, but could do more for everyday Oklahomans: OK Policy shares a first look at the FY2024 budget with wins, missed opportunities, and decisions that don’t center the needs of everyday Oklahomans. [OK Policy]

Policy Matters: Last-minute state budget deals intentional, harmful: Every year, Oklahoma lawmakers unveil the state budget during the legislative session’s waning days. It doesn’t have to be this way. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

Budget special session points to lack of trust between legislature, governor (Capitol Update): Because of the protracted fight over education funding and tax credits for people sending their children to private schools, the legislature was pushed to the brink in getting its appropriations measures passed before the constitutionally-required end of legislative session this Friday. Appropriations negotiations and bills for all other state agency budgets — along with many substantive policy bills — were held up while the education issues and funding were discussed behind closed doors. When the agreement finally came, there was little remaining time or money to address other major issues. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update

WATCH: InDepth: Title 42 & Immigration: Gabriela Ramirez-Perez, OK Policy’s Immigration Policy Analyst, appeared in a panel discussion on OETA’s Oklahoma News Report to talk about immigration issues in our state. [OETA via YouTube]

Conversation with Advocates

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 (usually abbreviated as ‘SFY’) runs from July 1 to June 30, while the federal fiscal year (usually abbreviated as ‘FFY’), runs from October 1st to September 30th. Each fiscal year is named after the calendar year that it ends in. For example, Oklahoma’s fiscal year 2023 (SFY 2023) covers the period from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

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

Quote of the Week

“That is the kind of thing that will get us killed. You can’t put that rhetoric out there in today’s climate. I’m sitting inside that board room with people in front of me and people behind me talking about how all we do in schools is porn and how we’re teaching porn. And just crazy, crazy things. That is not happening in public schools. Ryan, we used to talk all the time back when you were reasonable. I don’t know what’s happened.”

– Jami Cole, a teacher from Duncan, speaking about the inflammatory anti-teacher union video released by Superintendent Ryan Walters during a state board of education meeting Thursday. [The Oklahoman]

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World Editorial: State budget finds right balance in times of plenty

Oklahoma legislators found their way around to a reasonable budget in a session that was unusually testy for a Republican supermajority control.

A $12.9 billion negotiated budget addresses some big needs, such as boosts in education, while leaving about $3.6 billion in various savings accounts.

A nearly $1 billion education spending package was agreed upon last week (22% increase from last year) and added tax credits to the list of other tax-supported economic benefits to private school students.

With the general budget agreement, legislators wisely stayed away from overall tax cuts. Cutting revenue too far while times are good will handcuff future lawmakers in lean times. That’s a lesson from the recession and decade of revenue failures.

[Read the full editorial at TulsaWorld.com]

Numbers of the Day

  • 56% – For a majority of employed U.S. adults (56%), focusing on increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion at work is a good thing, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. But opinions about DEI vary considerably along demographic and political lines. [Pew Research]
  • 46.9% – Percentage of renting households in Oklahoma that are cost-burdened, which means expenses such as rent, utility costs and other housing fees exceed 30% of household income. [Prosperity Now]
  • 1 in 6 – In 2022, 650,600 Oklahoma residents, or 1 in 6 residents, participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is the nation’s most important and effective anti-hunger program. [CBPP]
  • 11.9% – The rate of children born preterm in Oklahoma, which is the nation’s 8th highest rate. Preterm birth, or the delivery of an infant prior to 37 weeks of gestation, is a significant cause of infant morbidity and mortality. [March of Dimes]
  • 98.5% – Of adults surveyed who had been asked to pay a court fine or fee in the past ten years, 98.5% of respondents reported that the court-ordered fines and fees impacted at least one aspect of daily life. More than half (51%) reported experiencing multiple impacts. [Wilson Center for Science and Justice & the Fines and Fees Justice Center]

What We’re Reading

  • The Rediscovery of Indian Country in Eastern Oklahoma: The existence of “Indian country” – generally defined as all land within Indian reservations, dependent Indian communities and Indian allotments – has legal significance because it is “the benchmark for approaching the allocation of federal, tribal and state authority with respect to Indians and Indian lands.” Generally, the federal and tribal governments have primary authority over Indians within Indian country, while state jurisdiction is more limited. Outside of Indian country, on the other hand, states generally have jurisdiction over Indians and non-Indians alike. [Oklahoma Bar Association]
  • Will States Force Localities to Build Affordable Housing?: The need for more housing in America is undeniable. But with localities unlikely to change zoning laws to create more, states are stepping in. Typically, [localities] hew to the principle that zoning in whatever way they choose is a bedrock principle of local control. But as the housing shortage gets worse, a growing number of states are threatening to alter that long-standing principle. [Route Fifty]
  • Most Working-Age SNAP Participants Work But Job Instability Overstates Joblessness in Some Analyses: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps more than 40 million people put food on the table each month. SNAP has existing, harmful work-reporting requirements, but recent proposals from House Republicans would harm more SNAP participants — by taking food away from older adults who can’t show every month that they meet or are exempt from work-reporting requirements — without improving employment. [CBPP]
  • Maternal Mortality in Oklahoma, Annual Report 2022: According to the CDC, Oklahoma persistently ranks among the states with the worst rates (40th) of maternal deaths in the U.S. Between 2017-2019, the Oklahoma maternal mortality rate was 23.5 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. This is above the national average of 20.1 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and above the Healthy People 2030 target goal of 15.7. Maternal mortality is viewed as an indicator of the overall effectiveness of the obstetrical and the general health care systems. [Oklahoma State Department of Health]
  • Debt Sentence: How Fines And Fees Hurt Working Families: Court-imposed debt impacts working families across all racial groups, political affiliations, and income levels. In the past ten years, a third of Americans have been directly affected by fines or fees related to traffic, criminal, juvenile, or municipal court. This report is the first national survey to examine how court-imposed fines and fees affect individuals and families. Researchers found that fines and fees debt creates hardships in people’s daily lives. Many respondents reported experiencing serious hardship, being impacted in three or more aspects of daily life. [Wilson Center for Science and Justice & the Fines and Fees Justice Center]


Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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