Weekly Wonk: State budget process: How the sausage gets made | OK Wellness Watch event | Teen mental health | more

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

How the sausage gets made: Comparing today’s state budget process to previous process (Capitol Update): An interesting thing about service in the legislature is that when most members get elected and take their seat, they think the process they inherit is the way it has always been. They accept it as the way things are done. JCAB was only created about 10 or 12 years ago, but probably most members today assume that’s just the way it’s done. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]


Upcoming Opportunities

OK Wellness Watch

October 25, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. 
Location: Virtual

Join us for the OK Wellness Watch — a two-hour virtual event highlighting the importance of renewing eligibility for Medicaid (known as SoonerCare in Oklahoma).

As the federal public health emergency comes to an end, thousands of Oklahoma families and individuals are at risk of losing their health care coverage. This program will provide information about maintaining SoonerCare coverage and how to get health insurance through the federal Marketplace if you are no longer eligible.

The informative and fun 2-hour event will include live conversations with representatives from organizations across the state who will be providing renewal assistance during and after the broadcast, a discussion with health care providers, and great give-a-ways to lucky viewers!

Watch via YouTube on Wednesday afternoon. 

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.

In Oklahoma, the Medicaid program is known as SoonerCare and is operated primarily by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. In FY 2022, the Medicaid program served just under 1.3 million individuals at some point over the course of the year, a significant (25 percent) increase compared to FY 2021 due primarily to the voter’s approval of Medicaid expansion that took effect in June 2021. As of August 2023, SoonerCare’s total monthly enrollment was 1,353,296 people. Of these, just over half (51percent) were low-income children 18 years and under.

Oklahoma’s total Medicaid spending was $7.82 billion in FY 2022, with the federal government accounting for $5.98 billion (76.5 percent) of that amount. The federal matching rate (FMAP) for most expenses was 79.5 percent in FY 2022.

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

Quote of the Week

“We know that if we give them the right amount of treatment and accountability, they can get better and avoid a prison sentence.”

-Oklahoma County District Judge Kenneth Stoner, speaking about the county’s drug court program that allows non-violent, justice-involved people a chance to avoid prison. They are connected with resources and treatment and if they complete the program, their charges are dismissed. [KOCO]

Editorial of the Week

Tulsa World Editorial: Tulsa has a chance to transform brain health for kids

The growing urgency in unmet mental health care among Tulsa’s youth got a much-needed boost from $16 million in federal grants and private contributions. It ought to be the start of serious investment and transformation in how brain health services are administered to children and teens.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded $9 million to Tulsa Public Schools and $4 million to the City of Tulsa, matched by $3 million in private funds, according to a story from Tulsa World reporter Kevin Canfield. All are to be targeted to improving youth brain health.

Even before the pandemic, Tulsa youth were struggling in brain health disorders.
In 2018, a 91-page, comprehensive study of the region’s mental health care delivery system featured alarming findings. That included TPS staff coming across a suicide note nearly once a day from elementary or middle school students. By age 19, 1 in 6 Oklahoma children experience at least four adverse childhood experiences such as witnessing domestic violence, substance abuse or mental illness in the household; loss of a family member due to incarceration, separation or divorce; or being a victim of abuse and neglect.

These problems only deepened after the world was gripped by the deadly COVID-19 virus. The stressors adults faced during that time were also felt by children. Thousands of Oklahoma’s youth experienced the death or severe sickness of a loved one, financial insecurity, hunger, isolation and/or inconsistent education.

[Read the full editorial at TulsaWorld.com]

Numbers of the Day

  • 30,659 – Estimated number of Oklahoma children who could lose child care as the result of the ending of federal child care subsidies. [The Century Foundation]
  • 7x – Individuals who participated in prison-based treatment followed by a community-based program post-incarceration were 7 times more likely to be drug free and 3 times less likely to be arrested for criminal behavior than those not receiving treatment. [Stanford University Network on Addiction Policy]
  • 65% – Percentage of Americans who say they always or often feel exhausted when thinking about politics. [Pew Research]
  • 555 – Oklahoma’s incarceration rate per 100,000 residents in 2021, which was the nation’s fourth highest rate. [Prison Policy Initiative]
  • 29% – Percentage of children under age 18 in Oklahoma families who received Supplemental Security Income (SSI), cash public assistance income, or Food Stamps/SNAP in the previous 12 months. [Annie E. Casey Foundation]

What We’re Reading


David Hamby has more than 25 years of experience as an award-winning communicator, including overseeing communication programs for Oklahoma higher education institutions and other organizations. Before joining OK Policy, he was director of public relations for Rogers State University where he managed the school’s external communication programs and served as a member of the president’s leadership team. He served in a similar communications role for five years at the University of Tulsa. He also has worked in communications roles at Oklahoma State University and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce in Arkansas. He joined OK Policy in October 2019.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.