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
Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison wrote about the state’s plan to reduce the number of uninsured drivers – using roadside cameras to catch and ticket uninsured cars won’t result in more drivers buying insurance. Intern Lydia Lapidus shared a story about one nonprofit’s work to end hunger in Oklahoma schools.
Executive Director David Blatt argued in his Journal Record column that the Affordable Care Act is still very much alive despite many recent attempts to kill or undermine the law. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update tackled the proposal to allow local school districts to generate increased local funding for schools without losing state funding – it’s a potentially dangerous idea that would likely result in significant inequities across the state.
OK Policy in the News
The Lawton Constitution used OK Policy data for a story about a local poverty-fighting initiative. Information from Policy Director Gene Perry’s blog post about SQ 640 was used by Joe Hight in his column for the Journal Record. Blatt spoke with the Journal Record for their piece on the budget compromise plan presented by the Step Up Oklahoma coalition.
Tickets are still available for the 2018 State Budget Summit, featuring keynote speaker Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution and a host of key Oklahoma policymakers. Click here to get your tickets and join us on January 25th ate the Downtown/Medical Center Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City. We look forward to see you!
Weekly What’s That
Oklahoma citizens have the right to initiate statewide legislation via ballot measures, or State Questions, in the form of either statutory or constitutional amendments. After an initiative petition is drafted, it goes through a lengthy process which can include various legal challenges. To qualify for the ballot, a citizen-initiated statutory amendment requires signatures of registered voters equal to 8 percent of the votes cast at the last general election for the Office of Governor, while a constitutional amendment requires 15 percent. Read more about initiative petitions here.
Quote of the Week
“Some state employees have not had a pay raise in 11 years. I imagine the business leaders who developed this plan would never let that happen in their own businesses. We understand the need to raise teachers’ salaries and it should be a top priority. Equally important is the need to support core services by raising state employee pay.”
– Oklahoma Public Employees Association Executive Director Sterling Zearley, reacting to a budget plan put forth by a group of Oklahoma business leaders on Thursday (Source)
Editorial of the Week
With the passage of State Questions 780 and 781, Oklahomans declared the enormous cost of warehousing non-violent offenders in jails and prisons must stop. People with untreated mental illnesses and addictions who are non-violent offenders should be provided criminal justice system oversight as they receive community-based treatment. All of this, if fully funded, is far more effective for individuals and far less expensive to the taxpayer.
Numbers of the Day
- $160,279.49 – One year cost to the state for one chronically homeless man in Oklahoma City.
- 7.42 – OK’s infant mortality rate per 1,000 births 2013-2015, 9th worst in the nation.
- 38.5% – Percentage of Oklahoma households with adjusted gross income less than $25,000 in 2015.
- 9.938 – Number of children age 0-17 in foster care in Oklahoma in SFY 2016
- 3,705 – Number of sexual discrimination complaints in the workplace made by Oklahomans from FY 2009-2016.