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The Weekly Wonk: Comprehensive revenue package fails to get required supermajority in House

by | November 12th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

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.

Note: Due to an all staff conference and the Thanksgiving holiday, there will be no Weekly Wonk for the next two weeks.  We will return to our regular schedule on December 3rd.

This Week from OK Policy

The legislature voted earlier this week on a comprehensive revenue package – Executive Director David Blatt argued that this was the last chance to make real progress on the structural budget deficit this special session. When that revenue package failed to receive the required 3/4 supermajority in the House, OK Policy issued a statement encouraging lawmakers to reconsider the measure. Blatt recapped the events of the week and explained what might happen now after the failure of the comprehensive revenue package.

Blatt’s Journal Record column offered an analogy for the legislature’s approach to funding core services – promise a sandwich, then report that they’re out of bread. An increase in the gross production tax rate could provide much needed funding, and Policy Director Gene Perry explained that it won’t hurt the economy or reduce drilling activity in Oklahoma. Perry also shared an analysis of the Republican tax plan currently under consideration by Congress – the plan would mean a tax hike on low- and moderate-income Oklahoma families by 2027.

OK Policy announced that there will be a staff change soon – Kara Joy McKee, our Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator, will be leaving us as she formally announces her campaign for public office.  KJ will be greatly missed and she leaves enormous shoes to fill.  We will soon begin our search for a new grassroots advocacy coordinator and hope to fill the position before the start of the legislative session in February.

OK Policy in the News

A survey measuring support for an increased gross production tax that was commissioned by OK Policy was referenced in two articles – Arnold Hamilton’s Journal Record column about the ballot initiative drive to raise the GPT and and Oklahoma Watch piece about the great sums of money likely to be spent on that effort.

Blatt spoke with Governing Magazine to shed some light on the rash of budget battles in one-party states this year. Perry was interviewed by Public Radio Tulsa about the GOP tax plan and – the plan will benefit wealthier Oklahomans more than the middle class or low-income families.

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The Weekly Wonk: Legislature will likely avoid doomsday, but won’t address chronic budget problems

by | November 3rd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (1)

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

With the clock ticking on special session, Executive Director David Blatt posited that the most likely outcome will be a budget that averts a doomsday crisis of cuts but does nothing to addresss Oklahoma’s chronic budget problems. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update pointed out that most Oklahomans have been left guessing by the happenings thus far in this special session. A guest post by Shelley Cadamy explained one of the many consequences of the state budget crisis – cuts to support for adoptive parents.  High turnover among state workers is yet another consequence – as Blatt pointed out, the average pay of our state workers is now 24% below the competitive labor market and most state employees have not seen a pay increase in 10 years.

Blatt’s Journal Record column implored federal lawmakers to stop sabotaging the Affordable Care Act and allow the program to work.  For those who buy insurance coverage through the ACA, open enrollment for 2018 has begun.  Intern Lydia Lapidus walked us through the process of enrolling and pointed out some helpful resources for those needing help to make sure they’re covered next year.

Advocacy Alert

The legislature is still in special session and they still need to hear from you – revenues must be raised in order to adequately fund core services. Click here to see our Advocacy Alert and to find your legislators and to get more information. You can also check out our Special Session FAQs for updated information about what’s happening during the special session.

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The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers should listen to their constituents during this special session

by | October 29th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

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’s Journal Record Column encouraged legislators to listen to their constituents and restore the gross production tax to at least 5 percent as part of any budget deal during special session. OK Policy issued two statements this week about budget deals. On Monday, OK Policy argued that the Republican budget plan ignored obvious solutions to the state’s revenue crisis – that plan failed on Wednesday. On Thursday, OK Policy encouraged lawmakers to seriously consider a less-than-ideal compromise budget plan as, perhaps, the best possible outcome of this special session.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor for their story about the harmful effects of tax cuts and industry incentives on public services in Oklahoma.  The lack of a budget deal thus far in special session is not helping the crisis situation now being faced by some public service agencies. Blatt spoke with Public Radio Tulsa and Fox25 about the inadequacies of the Republican plan announced on Monday. And Blatt spoke with KTUL after that plan failed on Wednesday.

Policy Director Gene Perry criticized the cigarette-tax-only approach to addressing the budge hole in an interview with KTUL. And on a brighter note, Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison was quoted by the Oklahoman in their piece about signs of progress in occupational licensing reform.

Advocacy Alert

The legislature is still in special session and they still need to hear from you – revenues must be raised in order to adequately fund core services. Click here to see our Advocacy Alert to find your legislators and to get more information. You can also check out our Special Session FAQs for updated information about what’s happening during the special session.

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The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers should listen to Oklahoma voters and pass a comprehensive revenue plan

by | October 22nd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

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

Policy Director Gene Perry, in an editorial for The Oklahoman, urged lawmakers to listen to Oklahoma voters and pass a comprehensive revenue plan during special session that funds a teacher pay raise and core services. Perry also pointed out that Oklahoma taxes are the lowest in our region – we’ve slashed our revenue base by cutting income taxes and allowing tax breaks to grow. This lack of revenue makes budgeting a challenge, and Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argues that a lack of leadership is making budget negotiations even more difficult during special session.

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column made the case that DACA recipients should be allowed to stay in U.S. and be afforded a path to full citizenship. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison walked us through the new regulations for payday lenders issued this month by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and urged Congress not to block these new protections.

OK Policy in the News

Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator Kara Joy McKee spoke with Fox25 during the zombie march on the Capitol on Satuday. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler was inteviewed by Reveal News for a piece about rehab work camps and the piece of Oklahoma legislation that exempted some of them from state regulation. OK Policy data was used by the Tulsa World in a story about the importance of great teachers for student success.

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The Weekly Wonk: A good budget deal is not “Mission Impossible”

by | October 14th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

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’s Journal Record column offers some hope for the budget negotiations during special session – a good budget deal is not mission impossible. Steve Lewis’s Capitol update broke down how those negotiations have gone thus far – push has come to shove and now those in power must get something done. Blatt argues that a repeal of the capital gains tax break should be a part of any budget deal.

Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison argued that occupational licensing requirement may be keeping some low- and moderate-income Oklahomans from decent jobs – the cost of the required education for some licenses can run into the thousands of dollars. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler walked us through Oklahoma’s sprawling criminal code – it could make a felon out of almost anyone.

Special Session Updates

Although the Oklahoma Legislature has convened numerous special sessions in recent decades, none has dealt with issues as sweeping and consequential as the current one. OK Policy now has a set of Frequently Asked Questions intended to help Oklahomans understand the rules guiding the process and the issues being addressed. It will be updated regularly as the session continues. You can find our Special Session FAQs here.

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The Weekly Wonk: Majority of Oklahoma voters want lawmakers to pass comprehensive revenue plan in special session

by | October 6th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

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

OK Policy released a poll Friday revealing that 67 percent of Oklahoma voters want lawmakers to pass a comprehensive revenue plan in special session that avoids further cuts and funds a teacher pay raise and other critical needs. Executive Director David Blatt, in a blog piece and his Journal Record column, reminded us that a good revenue plan must ensure that everyone pays their fair share – regressive taxes that place a heavy burden on low- and moderate-income families cannot be the bulk of our revenue plan. Policy Director Gene Perry shared with us two myths that are distorting the debate over education funding.

OK Policy in the News

The Lawton Constitution covered the Save Our State Coalition’s first community conversation last week  in Lawton – these conversations are designed to bring Oklahomans into the discussion of our budget crisis. Blatt spoke with KFOR about a recent report revealing that Oklahoma is losing an average of $90 million per year to a capital gains tax exemption.

Advocacy Alert

We’re starting week three of special session, and legislators still have not agreed on a revenue solution to the state budget crisis. They need to hear from you – revenues must be raised in order to adequately fund core services. Click here to see our Advocacy Alert to find your legislators and to get more information.

Upcoming Opportunities

The Save Our State Coalition will be hosting a community conversation in Stillwater on October 10th.  Join us for this important conversation about how to fix Oklahoma’s broken budget. Come and share ideas to ensure we are protecting the services Oklahoma families rely on every single day and hear from local educators and community members who’ve been impacted by the recent budget cuts. For more information about the event click here.

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The Weekly Wonk: Bills filed in special session put many options in play

by | September 29th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

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

The legislature began special session this week, and Policy Director Gene Perry pointed out that there are some good options in the bills filed during the first week – in addition to the cigarette tax, bills to restore the gross production tax and increase the top income tax rate were also filed. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update was also cautiously optimistic about avoiding further cuts to agency budgets given Gov. Fallin’s announcement of her intention to veto a budget that includes further cuts.

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column warned that business in Oklahoma may suffer more if the structural budget deficit is not addressed – an educated workforce and healthy citizens are crucial to attracting (and keeping) business in Oklahoma and we’re falling behind on those markers. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam pointed out that Insurance Commissioner John Doak is not helping – his recent order that Oklahoma Navigators turn over their Affordable Care Act enrollment data to his office may be detrimental to insurance enrollment in the state.

OK Policy in the News

Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator KJ McKee spoke with The Oklahoman about the importance of citizen advocacy at the Capitol during special session.  McKee was also interviewed by Fox25, where she explained how crucial it is that the legislature enact new revenues during the session – if they don’t, Oklahoma citizens are the ones who will suffer. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam weighed in on the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act – the bill might have made insurance less expensive, but at the cost of coverage for essential health benefits. OK Policy data was used by The Oklahoman for a piece about the effects of legislative term limits.

Advocacy Alert

After one week of special session, legislators are struggling to agree on a revenue solution to the state budget crisis. They need to hear from you – revenues must be raised in order to adequately fund core services. Click here to see our Advocacy Alert to find your legislators and to get more information.

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The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers have many good options to fill the budget hole during special session

by | September 22nd, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

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

Policy Director Gene Perry reminded us that lawmakers have many good options to fill the budget hole during special session – but they will need to find the will to use them. In a Tulsa World editorial, Executive Director David Blatt implored lawmakers to take advantage of this second chance and fix a budget that was not meeting the needs of Oklahomans even before the court’s ruling. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argued that the worst thing legislators could do is adjourn special session without raising revenue to address the structural budget deficit.

In his Journal Record column, Blatt lamented that more and more Oklahomans have had enough – discouraged by year after year of budget cuts, Oklahomans are chosing to leave the state to seek better opportunities elsewhere. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler walked us through the provisions of State Question 788, the medical marijuana ballot initiative that Oklahomans will vote on next year.

Advocacy Alert

As the legislature enters special session on Monday, they have many options to fix the state’s structural budget deficit. But they need to hear from you – revenues must be raised in order to adequately fund core services. Click here to see our Advocacy Alert to find your legislators and to get more information.

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The Weekly Wonk: Oklahoma falls further behind the nation on poverty and uninsured rate

by | September 15th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

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

Policy Director Gene Perry informed us that Oklahoma has fallen further behind the nation as a whole on poverty and the uninsured rate, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Executive Director David Blatt adds that the loss of federal funds to prevent teenage pregnancy means we’re likely to undo much of the progress we’ve made on that front as well.

Blatt explained that the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s recent rulings striking down the cigarette fee and upholding the removal of a sales tax exemption for motor vehicles strike a balance on the taxation rules put in place by State Question 640. Blatt also pointed out the importance of government and its programs, especially during disasters – because there are no libertarians in a flood zone. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update laments the lack of progress that has been made on criminal justice reform.

OK Policy in the News

Perry was interviewed by the Stillwater News Press and Public Radio Tulsa about Oklahoma’s lack of progress on poverty and the uninsured rate – at a time when the national average was going down, our numbers were flat and still higher than the national average.

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The Weekly Wonk: Special session a second chance for lawmakers to get the budget right

by | September 10th, 2017 | Posted in Blog, Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

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

After Governor Fallin’s announcement that she is calling a special session beginning September 25, OK Policy released a statement urging lawmakers not to waste this second chance to get the budget right. State Question 640 is a significant hurdle to good budgeting in Oklahoma, and Rep. Marcus McEntire argued in a guest post that it’s time to revisit SQ 640 so government can work effectively for its citizens. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler implored Congress to pass legislation protecting DACA recipients after President Trump’s decision last week to end the DACA program.

Executive Director David Blatt suggested in his Journal Record column that the recent court decision upholding the partial repeal of the state sales tax exemption on motor vehicles should be seen as a blow to special interests – they can no longer argue that their tax exemptions have special constitutional protection. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argues that the court decision sets a new course for Oklahoma politics – the majority party now has leeway to remove tax exemptions (effectively raising taxes) with only a majority vote.

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Gene Perry spoke with The Oklahoman about the Legislature’s options for fixing the budget in special session – lawmakers have many good options, like removing some tax exemptions that don’t benefit the average Oklahoman. The Daily O’Collegian at Oklahoma State University cited OK Policy data in an editorial expressing disapproval of the President’s decision to end DACA.

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