The Weekly Wonk: Tax increases vs. budget cuts, criminal justice reform bears fruit, 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

This week on the OK Policy Blog, Policy Director Gene Perry explained why tax increases would be less harmful to the state economy than budget cuts. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler wrote that Gov. Fallin’s new, inclusive approach to criminal justice reform is bearing fruit. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis wondered if legislators have grasped the seriousness of the state’s budget crisis. 

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt argued in favor of a National Popular Vote. An upcoming free public lecture presented by DHS will discuss suicide prevention. OK Policy is excited to welcome Dr. Joseph (Joe) Siano of Norman Public Schools and Charles (Chuck) Garrett of Cherokee Nation Businesses to the OK Policy Board.

OK Policy in the News

This week, Wonkette used OK Policy data in discussing a proposal to eliminate Medicaid eligibility for 110,000 Oklahomans, one of several unthinkable proposals. Perry spoke to World Casino News about fantasy gaming and tribal gaming exclusivity. We’ve written previously that a fantasy sports bill could put state gaming revenues at risk. KTUL spoke with Blatt about tapping the Rainy Day Fund to ease mid-year cuts. Blatt was also quoted by the Norman Transcript on the latest round of mid-year budget cuts

ATTN College Students: Apply for the 2016 Summer Policy Institute

We are now accepting applications from undergrad and graduate students for our fourth Summer Policy Institute (SPI)! SPI brings together highly-qualified college students from across the state from July 31 to August 3 for a unique opportunity to become better informed about vital Oklahoma policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders in the policy process, and prepare for their future studies and work in public policy-related fields. Learn more and apply here

Weekly What’s That

Oklahoma Health Care Authority

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is a state government agency responsible for administering the state’s Medicaid program. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“With all of these budget shortfalls, it is the poor people who end up being hurt the most. It seems to me they have very few champions. Whether it’s mental health, human services, education – the people punished most are those that can least afford it.”

– Sen. Earl Garrison (D-Muskogee), on proposed legislation that would eliminate eligibility for very low-income parents on Medicaid (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Jimmy Leopard, NonDoc

Taking back our federal health care funds is more critical than ever before. As our state faces a serious economic downturn and a huge budget shortfall, it is important to note that, under the Oklahoma Hospital Association’s plan, for every $1 Oklahoma puts in, $9 return to the state. That’s money Oklahoma sorely needs.

Numbers of the Day

  • 23% – Percent of the 669 traffic fatalities in Oklahoma in 2014 that involved alcohol-impaired driving
  • 33% – Percentage of Oklahoma adults who were obese in 2015
  • $77,268,000 – Yearly state and local tax contributions by undocumented immigrants in Oklahoma
  • 16% – Estimated turnout rate for Oklahoma citizens age 18-29 in this year’s Presidential primary election
  • 7,705 – Number of cell phones confiscated last year in Oklahoma’s correctional facilities, the most ever

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources 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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