The Weekly Wonk: An unprecedented disaster, a political high wire, 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 wrote that the budget crisis could be an unprecedented disaster for Oklahoma. Executive Director David Blatt explained how a high-income surcharge would help solve the budget emergency. In his Journal Record column, Blatt said that the Health Care Authority’s proposal to extend health coverage while canceling a massive provider rate cut is a path on a political high wire. OK Policy’s statement on the proposal is here.

Policy Analyst and Oklahoma Assets Network coordinator DeVon Douglass argued that if predatory lending is restricted, Oklahomans will find better alternatives. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update asked legislators if doing nothing to find new revenues would bring more or less political risk. A guest post by Shannon Meeks of Putnam City Schools made the case that charter schools get an outsize share of midyear State Aid funding. 

OK Policy in the News

Perry spoke with the OU Daily about how potential solutions to the budget crisis struggle to find legislative support. Perry’s analysis of the lottery’s effect on education funding was cited by the Ada News. You can read that analysis here. Bloomberg cited OK Policy data on income tax cuts in a discussion of the budget crisis and expansion of health coverage. The full report is available here. Barry Friedman used OK Policy data in excoriating a proposal to eliminate Medicaid coverage for thousands of Oklahomans. 


“If funding for OKDHS is cut, my mom could possibly lose her job. She was just diagnosed with cancer one month ago and will not get treatment without health insurance. For some of us, these cuts are a matter of life and death.” -Stephanie Rush, Tulsa 

These testimonials, and the multitude of others like them, show what’s at risk if the budget crisis isn’t fixed. Join Together Oklahoma’s campaign to tell lawmakers that we can’t cut our way to prosperity, and need to protect core services and raise revenues. Join #DoSomethingOK here.

Calling all 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

Corporate income tax

Oklahoma’s corporate income tax is set at a flat rate of 6 percent of taxable income. The tax is based on a three-part formula that looks at the portions of a company’s sales, property and payroll that is based in Oklahoma. The corporate income tax generated $443 million in fiscal year 2012, which was 5.3 percent of total state tax collections. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“Many well-intentioned Oklahoma politicians believe that delaying the tax cut amounts to a so-called ‘revenue’ bill and would require a 3/4ths vote of the Legislature. However, changes made to tax law items such as incentive criteria, termination of credits and trigger adjustments, which have incidentally raised revenue, have not been successfully challenged or interpreted as revenue bills. For this reason, I believe delaying the tax cut only requires a majority vote of both the House and Senate. Furthermore, our conservative constituents from all across the state overwhelmingly support this financially pragmatic adjustment.”

– Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, arguing that Oklahoma should delay this year’s cut to the top income tax rate amid a massive budget shortfall (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, Tulsa World

Every Oklahoman has a stake in this plan. If Medicaid crumbles into unsustainable ashes, the displaced patients will flood into emergency rooms. Hospitals will try to transfer those uncompensated costs to their insured patients. Those hospitals that can’t find a new balance will simply close, undermining the state’s care network. Similar scenarios would play out among doctors, nursing homes and other care providers.

Numbers of the Day

  • 40,466 – Number of handgun licenses approved in Oklahoma in 2015.
  • 42% – Percent of Oklahomans who selected a health insurance plan on who were first-time enrollees, the 16th-highest in the US
  • 7.8% – Percentage of affordable housing units in Oklahoma that are located in food deserts (grocery store located further than 1 mile in urban areas or 10 miles in rural area)
  • 14% – Percentage of Oklahoma adults reporting binge or heavy drinking in 2014. The US median is 17%
  • 14.7% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s uninsured population receiving treatment for mental illness or substance use disorder 

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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