The Weekly Wonk: Restoring the right to vote, feeding hungry children, & 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, intern Tara Grigson examined why Oklahoma’s summer meal programs have such limited reach.  Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column made the case for reforming felon disenfranchisement

Steve Lewis’s weekly Capitol Update reviewed a report on building state educational systems. On the Together Oklahoma blog, intern Amy Luznicky discussed barriers and bridges to successful advocacy. We’re excited to welcome Bailey Perkins to the OK Policy team as our Outreach and Legislative Liaison.

Upcoming Opportunities

  • We’re accepting applications for paid, part-time internships until Friday, August 26th! Eligible students should have completed at least four semesters of college coursework or be pursuing a graduate degree. To learn more and apply, click here.
  • In October, we’re pleased to welcome author Tamara Drout to discuss her recent bookSleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America, in Tulsa and Oklahoma City. On Wednesday, October 5, at 7pm, Drout will discuss the book at the Woody Guthrie Center with BookSmart Tulsa. Click here to learn more and RSVP. On Thursday, October 6th, Drout will will be the featured speaker at the Central Oklahoma Community Forum’s 2016 Labor-Religion luncheon at 11:30am at Fairview Baptist Church (1700 Northeast 7th Street, Oklahoma City). Lunch will be served free of charge, but space is limited. You must register in advance no later than Thursday, September 29th by calling Linda Smith at (405) 634-4030 or by emailing Learn more about both events here.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt was quoted in a NewsOK article on the implications of a moderate candidate out-fundraising his ultraconservative opponent. Policy Director Gene Perry was cited in a Tulsa Voice column discussing SQ 779. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy’s Tax Justice Blog included OK Policy work in a survey of state tax policy changes. The Journal Record noted we hired Outreach and Legislative Liaison Bailey Perkins.

Weekly What’s That


Medicaid is a public insurance program that provides health coverage to low-income families and individuals, including children, parents, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities. The program, which was created by Congress in 1965 as Title XIX of the Social Security Act, is operated by the states and funded jointly by the federal government and the states. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“If there’s a better way to do it, why haven’t they done it yet? It seems like it’s always put on the back burner and we will get to it when we get to it. We’ve got to step up and do something.”

-Broken Arrow resident Debbie Vance, who plans to vote for SQ 779, the penny sales tax for education, and who expressed skepticism toward Gov. Mary Fallin’s push to pass a teacher pay raise during a special legislative session (Source). Our statement on the state question is here.

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Tulsa World

Bake sales, raffles and corporate contributions aren’t the right way to fund public schools, but, in a time when the state has abandoned its duty to adequately fund education, every dollar counts. We thank every donor and look forward to a time when the state understands that public schools are an essential investment in the future and the responsibility of everyone.

Numbers of the Day

  • 103 million metric tons – Total carbon dioxide emissions by Oklahoma in 2013
  • 21% – Percent of Oklahomans who said the appearance of their teeth impacts their ability to interview for a job
  • 16.3% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s population that uses SNAP to afford food, 14th highest out of all 50 states (April 2016)
  • 7.4% – The percentage of US natural gas produced in Oklahoma in 2014
  • 99,000 – Estimated number of LGBT adults in Oklahoma (2010)

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • A simple change that could help solve one of the biggest problems facing poor people [Washington Post]
  • The War on Drugs Has Made Policing More Violent [Democracy Journal]
  • Wraparound services still worth it even after accounting for all costs [Brookings]
  • “Don’t Take Their Word For It”: Waiting for Evidence on the New SAT & ACT [New America]
  • The Dubious Relationship Between Big Box Stores and Sales Tax [Strong Towns]


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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