The Weekly Wonk: “Small loan” bill would bring high costs, the progressive case for increasing the cigarette tax, and 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

On the OK Policy blog, Executive Director David Blatt explained how legislation creating a new kind of payday loan would push low-income families further into debt. Blatt pointed out that Oklahomans aren’t demanding new kinds of payday loans from lawmakers and wondered whose interests those lawmakers are representing in his Journal Record column. Learn more about HB 1913 and how to contact your legislators here. Policy Director Gene Perry made the progressive case for increasing the cigarette tax. 

Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman argued in favor of raising revenues in a guest blog post. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update lamented missed opportunities for criminal justice reform in the current Legislative session. 

OK Policy in the News

Blatt was quoted in a Journal Record article on HB 1913, which would create a new kind of predatory loan. This week, Mubeen Shakir cited OK Policy data in an op-ed imploring lawmakers not to further cut spending to vital public services, and the Tulsa World’s Editorial Board used our research in arguing against an income tax exemption bill

Upcoming Opportunities

We are now accepting applications for our fifth annual Summer Policy Institute (SPI). SPI brings together dozens of undergraduate and graduate students from across the state for a three and a half-day intensive policy training. The application deadline is May 26, 2017. Click here to learn more and apply

Weekly What’s That

Title I

Title I is a section of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that provides federal funds to local school districts and schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. Title I is meant to ensure that all children receive a high-quality education and reach proficiency on State academic achievement standards assessments. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“It’s really just a matter of common sense. Family caregivers save the state money. If they weren’t available and willing to take on these responsibilities, thousands more Oklahoma seniors would be in nursing homes at the state’s expense. . . . We urge the Oklahoma Legislature to fully fund DHS’ supplemental budget request of $42 million in support of our elders and family caregivers that rely on home and community based services such as adult day health. If the state doesn’t support them on the front end, it will likely be paying four times more to care for our elders on the back end.”

-LIFE Senior Services CEO Laura Kenny (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, Tulsa World

Wall Street is now saying what everyone in Oklahoma knows: The state’s credit is decaying because state Capitol leaders have failed to make wise fiscal choices for years.

After two years of budget failures, a succession of budget holes, and a continued reliance on one-time funding sources to keep the state solvent, S&P Global Ratings lowered the state’s general obligation bond debt rating from AA+ to AA last week. The agency also lowered its rating on the state’s appropriation debt from AA to AA-.

Numbers of the Day

  • -5.9% – Change in collections of court costs on felony cases in a sample of 9 Oklahoma district courts between 2003 and 2015. Collections of costs on civil cases rose 87.3% during the same period
  • 95,000 – Estimated unauthorized immigrant population in Oklahoma, 2014
  • -1.3% – Percentage point drop in Oklahoma’s prime-age employment to population ratio from 2015 to 2016, the third largest drop in the U.S.
  • 3.4% – Share of the Oklahoma labor force made up of unauthorized immigrants, 2014
  • -$4,642 – Average loss of tax credits to purchase insurance for Oklahoma consumers under the proposed Republican health care plan, a 62% decrease and the third biggest loss in the nation

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Are gains in black homeownership history? [Urban Institute]
  • Kansas Republicans Sour on Their Tax-Cut Experiment [The Atlantic]
  • The New Face of American Unemployment [Bloomberg]
  • Accounting for Violence: How to Increase Safety and Break Our Failed Reliance on Mass Incarceration [Vera Institute of Justice]
  • Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins [The Upshot]


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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