The Weekly Wonk September 7, 2014

the_weekly_wonkThe Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The KnowClick here to subscribe to In The Know. Because The Weekly Wonk was on break for the holiday weekend, this edition contains links from the past two weeks.

On the OK Policy Blog, we made the case for ending runoff elections. Executive Director David Blatt reiterated the point in his Journal Record column this week. A post in our Neglected Oklahoma series examined the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline, and a blog post by intern Tyler Parette called for long-term solutions for homelessness in Oklahoma. 

A guest blog post argued that with Oklahoma slashing funding for regulation of horse races, it may not be long before we see a doping or race-fixing scandal. Policy Director Gene Perry and former inner-city teacher John Thompson reviewed Amanda Ripley’s book, “The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They Got That Way.”

Last week’s OK PolicyCast featured discussion of “The Smartest Kids in the World,” as well as the loss of Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind Waiver and new details on the botched execution. This week, the OK PolicyCast examines a pair of lawsuits that could dramatically change tax politics in Oklahoma, one state lawmaker’s comments that have upset Oklahoma Muslims, and more. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcher, or RSS.

In his Journal Record column last week, Blatt discussed misperceptions about welfare in Oklahoma. Blatt spoke Thursday night at a panel on segregation in Tulsa’s public schools, where he noted that economic segregation has supplanted its racial predecessor. In our editorial of the week, The Oklahoman’s Editorial Board calls for greater scrutiny in issuing tax credits. We’ve written about tax credit reform before. 

Quote of the week:

“We made the point that if we don’t do anything about this problem in some manner, shape or form there will be cities that will not be able to afford a police department or a fire department.”

– Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, who is launching a campaign with Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett to get the state legislature to allow cities to diversify their source of revenue. Oklahoma municipalities are currently funded almost entirely by sales tax (Source:

See previous Quotes of the Day here.

Numbers of the day:

  • $5,168 – Oklahomans’ per capita spending on energy in 2012, 12th highest in the nation.
  • 11.5% – Percentage of people with diabetes in Oklahoma. The national average is 9.7%.
  • $6.3 million – Direct spending by out-of-state and international travelers in Oklahoma in 2010.
  • 2049 – Year at which the Garber-Wellington aquifer, which supplies water to Oklahoma City, Moore, Norman, Sherman, and other towns, will be 50 percent depleted if usage continues at current rates.
  • 1st – Oklahoma’s ranking nationwide for the rate of African-Americans killed by law enforcement, 1999-2011.
  • $13.1 million – Earthquake insurance premiums paid by Oklahomans in 2013, almost triple the $4.8 million paid by Oklahomans in 2009.
  • -4.1% – Drop in Oklahoma’s voter registration rate, from 81.1% 2008 to 77.0% 2012.
  • 7.6% – How much real tax revenue in Oklahoma remains below the pre-recession peak.

See previous Numbers of the Day 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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