The 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 Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.
OK Policy Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column examined how Oklahoma police, district attorneys, and private contractors are profiting from confiscating Oklahomans’ property without due process.
The OK Policy blog featured its last post in a three part series on the private prison industry by summer intern Matt Simmons. In this post we looked at how the private prison industry has attempted to influence public policy through lobbying and campaign contributions. The first post looked at the history of private prisons in Oklahoma and how a slew of “tough on crime” measures passed in the 1980s accelerated an already growing incarceration rate. The second post examined the relative costs and benefits of utilizing private prisons versus public prisons.
We also discussed how State Question 766 will give AT&T a $23 million tax break while costing schools $31 million and we explained how an Oklahoman editorial covering a Cato Institute report presents wildly inaccurate information about poverty and safety net programs in the state.
- 5th – Oklahoma’s rank among the states for the change in housing prices over the last 5 years, up 4.5 percent since 2008
- 56,948 – The number of Oklahoma farms that are fully-owned by their operator, rather than part-owned or rented, 66 percent of the state’s farms vs. 69 percent nationally
- 83.7 percent – Percentage drop in the number of persons receiving TANF (or ‘welfare’) cash assistance in Oklahoma from 1991 and 2011, the 9th largest drop in the U.S
- 2nd – Oklahoma’s rank for the share of its residents who are “engaged” workers (36 percent) – involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and their organization – compared to 30 percent nationally
- The Texas Observer reported on how Texas reforms limiting accountability for doctors and hospitals allowed a neurosurgeon to kill or paralyze 6 patients in 3 years before his license was suspended.
- The journal Science published an important new study showing how poverty taxes the brain.
- The New York Times profiled Americans living on the edge of poverty who could become caught up in Congressional Republicans’ attacks on the food stamp program.
- The National Employment Law Project reported that most low wage food service jobs do not provide stepping stones towards higher-paying managerial positions.