The Weekly Wonk: Step Up Coalition’s budget plan is a big deal

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

Executive Director David Blatt shared his thoughts on the recently proposed budget plan from the Step Up Coalition in his Journal Record column – it’s a big deal. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update also offered an assessment of the Step Up plan – it’s a promising start, but there’s still work to do. Medicaid work requirements are gaining steam at the federal level, and Policy Anlayst Carly Putman told us why it’s a bad idea for Oklahoma. 

Upcoming Opportunities

The last chance to purchase tickets for the 2018 State Budget Summit is Monday, January 22nd! Click here for the full program or, to purchase tickets, click here. The cost of the Summit is $90 and includes lunch and a light breakfast. The State Budget Summit is a unique opportunity for policymakers, leaders and staff from government, business, and non-profit organizations, advocates, educators, and others to become better informed and more effectively engaged. We look forward to seeing you there!

Richard Rothstein will speak at the University of Tulsa on Thursday, January 25th, about his most recent book The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. The event is free and open to the public.  Click here for more information.

Weekly What’s That

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that governs how states provide special education to children with disabilities. IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 as the Education for Handicapped Children Act, and the most recent changes to the law were passed by Congress in 2004. The Act requires that public schools create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each student who is eligible under federal and state disability standards. Click here to read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Every school should be taking these students. These students have a right given by our constitution to be educated.”

– Rep. Lee Denny, on the news that some Oklahoma private schools offering tax-credit tuition scholarships turn away students with disabilities. Denny authored the legislation that created the scholarship in 2011 (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Writers, Tulsa World

Far too many Oklahomans get cancer, and when they get it, they’re much more likely to die from it than other Americans. The reason Oklahomans are more likely to die from cancer is obvious: Too many Oklahomans don’t have health care coverage. The state has the nation’s second highest uninsured rate. People without health insurance are less likely to have a physician’s help in addressing preventive lifestyle issues, including smoking; less likely to have their cancers diagnosed and treated early, a clear factor in cancer survival; and less likely to have their cancers treated aggressively and successfully. The result is more cancer deaths and higher costs to the state and hospitals, which end up absorbing late-stage cancer cases for the uninsured.

Numbers of the Day

  • $56,900 – Median family income among households with children in Oklahoma in 2016
  • 395% – Average payday loan interest rate in Oklahoma in 2017
  • 12.91 – Black infant mortality rate per 1000 live births in OK, 2013-2015.OK ranks 6th worst nationally. According to the CIA Worldfact book, developing countries with similar infant mortality rates are Saudi Arabia, Guam, Oman, and Armenia
  • $162.6 million – Amount of marketing money spent by tobacco industry in Oklahoma in 2017

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least? [New York Times]
  • The Sexual Assault Epidemic No One Talks About [NPR]
  • Goodbye, George Bailey: Decline of Rural Lending Crimps Small-Town Business [The Wall Street Journal]
  • How The Gap Used an App to Give Workers More Control Over Their Schedules [Harvard Business Review]


Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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