The Weekly Wonk: OK Policy reviews legislative session marked by missed opportunities, finds reasons for optimism
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
OK Policy released our annual recap of the legislative session this week in a two-part blog post. This session was marked by several missed opportunities – the structural budget deficit was not addressed, most of the Criminal Justice Reform Task Force bills were not passed, and a teacher pay raise was not enacted. But there are reasons for hope as well. The income tax cut trigger was repealed, the health care safety net was left largely intact, and Governor Fallin vetoed the expansion of predatory lending.
Policy Director Gene Perry’s Journal Record column reminded us that there really are reasons for hope in Oklahoma politics – we’ve solved big problems in the past and we can do it again with the right approach. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler explained that, though the criminal justice reforms enacted under State Question 780 will certainly save Oklahoma money next year, it’s difficult to predict exactly how much. In a guest post, Amy Smith (a graduate student in Disability Studies) encourages those who are living with disabilities, or caring for someone with a disability, to become advocates for their community by becoming involved with Partners in Policymaking. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update encourages teachers to become more vocal advocates by looking back at the 1989 special legislative session called to address what Governor Bellmon called an “emergency in education funding.”
OK Policy in the News
Policy Analyst Carly Putnam spoke with media outlets this week about how the proposed federal budget could impact Oklahoma. In an interview with Public Radio Tulsa, Putnam argued that the proposed 25% cut to the food stamp program (SNAP) would very likely result in fewer needy families receiving benefits and a reduction in benefits for those families still on the program. The Trump budget achieves the 25% cut in federal spending on SNAP by shifting part of the cost of the program to states – as Putnam explained to CNHI, that would mean Oklahoma would have to find an additional $221 million in the state budget to fully fund SNAP.
Perry spoke with the Tulsa World about the potential effects of Oklahoma following in Kansas’s footsteps and rolling back our income tax cuts on the top bracket – if Oklahoma were to increase the income tax on the top bracket to 5.7% we could see $400 million in new revenues. OK Policy data was used by the Red Dirt Report for a story about summer food programs for children who receive free/reduced-price lunches during the school year – Oklahoma is trying to raise awareness about summer food programs to increase participation in the program.
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