The Weekly Wonk: The tax shift rears its ugly head, teacher pay proposals (probably) stalled, 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, Policy Director Gene Perry explained how lawmakers are trying to fix the budget crisis by eliminating tax credits that benefit working families — the same families who have gotten little to no benefit from top income tax rate cuts. Our balanced solutions to Oklahoma’s budget crisis are here. Executive Director David Blatt wrote that teacher pay raise proposals probably aren’t going anywhere during this legislative session. In his Journal Record column, Blatt argued against a proposal to eliminate Medicaid coverage for non-disabled adults under 65.

Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler wrote that New Mexico stopped civil asset forfeiture abuse, and Oklahoma can, too. Policy Analyst and Oklahoma Assets Network coordinator DeVon Douglass made the case for volunteer tax preparation‘s role in keeping Americans out of poverty. In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis noted that less than two weeks into the legislative session, there already is a retreat from simply examining whether or not tax incentives are working. Video and slides from our first-ever Policy Priorities webinar are now online. Video, tweets, and more from our State Budget Summit can be found here

OK Policy in the News

A post at the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy Tax Justice Blog cited OK Policy data in a review of the state’s budget crisis. Oklahoma Watch quoted Blatt in an investigation of sales tax exemptions, and Blatt spoke to KWGS about stopping the income tax cut. The Stillwater News Press quoted OK Policy data discussing efforts to halt the income tax cut. The Red Dirt Report and Norman Transcript both covered a criminal justice reform panel featuring Perry. The Enid News used OK Policy data in an article on how Oklahoma schools managed to avoid $19 million in budget cuts.  

Weekly What’s That

1017 Fund

The 1017 Fund, or Education Reform Revolving Fund, is a dedicated revenue fund that is appropriated to the State Department of Education. The fund initially consisted of personal and corporate income tax, sales tax, and use tax revenues attributable to the revenue provisions of HB 1017. Read more.

Quote of the Week

“Out of the $1.3 billion budget shortfall, $100 million of that is not a big hit.”

– Governor Mary Fallin, dismissing calls to reverse the latest tax cut, which is estimated to cost the state $120 million in FY 2017 (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Duane Goosen, The Wichita Eagle

The revenue loss from the income tax cuts put the [Kansas] budget drastically in the red. In response, lawmakers raised sales tax rates twice, which transferred more of the state’s tax burden to low-income Kansans but did not come close to correcting the budget imbalance. Lawmakers also blew through the state’s reserves and transferred hundreds of millions away from highways and children to barely eke out a budget.

But therein lies the secret to the “success” many lawmakers really sought. If you want to cut programs and force state government to be smaller, starving the revenue stream provides the easiest route.

No politician wants to look a constituent in the eye and say, “I’m going to cut schools” or “I’m going to reduce maintenance on the highway you travel.” But with a tamped-down revenue stream, politicians can say, instead: “We have to live within our means.”

Numbers of the Day

  • $31,606 – Average starting teacher salary in Oklahoma in 2012-2013, which was $4,535 below the national average.
  • 91.4% – Percentage of Oklahoma farms owned by individuals or families in 2012
  • 139,740 – Acres of farmed cotton harvested in Oklahoma in 2012
  • $1.03 – Per pack state cigarette excise tax in Oklahoma, 58 cents lower than the national average
  • 1.1% – Inflation-adjusted personal income growth for Oklahomans over the past year, the 5th lowest in the nation.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Regulators should let banks get back to small-dollar loans [Pew Charitable Trusts].
  • Mentorship is key in keeping young, low-income teenagers engaged in high school [The Atlantic].
  • Five important facts about homeless youth [Urban Institute].
  • Bright black students taught by black teachers are more likely to get into gifted-and-talented classrooms [The Hechinger Report].
  • Men are typically are employed at greater rates than women – but not when they spend their childhoods in poverty [Washington Post].


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.

One thought on “The Weekly Wonk: The tax shift rears its ugly head, teacher pay proposals (probably) stalled, and more…

  1. The last tax cut has meant they take a total of $72 less out of my retirement checks for the whole year of 2016. After they adjust all the services and taxes I bet it will cost me a hell of a lot more than the $72 a year. So in retrospect. What Tax Cut?

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