2015 State Budget Summit

2015 State Budget Summit

Mind the Gap: Sensible Budget Policy in Challenging Times

Photo by Marcin Wichary.
Photo by Marcin Wichary.

When: January 29, 2015

Where: Will Rogers Theater, 4322 N. Western Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73118

Cost: $60 (scholarships available for students and those for whom cost would be an obstacle. If you need a scholarship, please send an email to info@okpolicy.org with a very brief statement of your needs)

Tickets for the event are no longer available.


Although Oklahoma is now several years removed from the worst of the fiscal crisis that accompanied the Great Recession, the gap between the cost of providing basic public services and the revenues we collect to pay for them seems to be growing. State agencies continue to be squeezed by budget cuts and funding shortfalls, tax collections are flat or declining, and ever greater challenges are looming on the horizon. What ideas and solutions can we bring to bear to address the fiscal gap?

EJ Dionne

During the first part of the state budget summit, participants will hear top experts discuss key issues shaping Oklahoma’s economic and fiscal outlook.   Over lunch, our special guest speaker, E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post and Brooking Institution, will offer his perspective on the national budget as we move into a new period of divided and polarized government. The day will conclude with an afternoon session exploring the prospects for meaningful tax credit reform in the upcoming legislative session.

Click here for participant bios


8:45 – 9:15: Registration and light breakfast

9:15 – 9:30:  Welcome and Introductions – David Blatt, Executive Director, Oklahoma Policy Institute

9:30 – 10:00: Oklahoma’s Budget Outlook: Confronting the Fiscal Gap

Download the Presentation (PDF)

OK Policy director David Blatt discussed the major components of Oklahoma’s tax system and state budget, and will review some of the components of the fiscal gap stemming from policy decisions, demographic trends, economic changes, and other factors.

10:00 – 11:30: Panel Discussion: “An Economic Check-Up”

In recent years Oklahoma has seen among the lowest unemployment and highest personal income growth in the nation. At the same time, funding for many of Oklahoma’s core state services has not recovered from cuts made during the recession. Oklahomans continue to struggle with relatively high levels of poverty, low educational attainment, and falling behind on many measures of quality of life. In our morning session, panelists with diverse expertise will discuss trends in Oklahoma’s economic outlook and state fiscal health.

Panelists: Shelley Cadamy, Workforce Tulsa; Dr. Mickey Hepner, University of Central Oklahoma; Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation; Rep. Dennis Casey, Oklahoma House of Representatives; Dr. Dan Rickman, Oklahoma State University.

11:30 – 12:00: LUNCH (vegetarian options provided)

12:00 – 1:15: KEYNOTE TALK: E.J. Dionne, Washington Post and Brookings Institution

Syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne is one of the nation’s most widely-read and highly respected political observers. He appears weekly on NPR’s All Things Considered and regularly on NBC’s Meet the Press and other broadcast programs to discuss national politics. He joined the Washington Post as a political reporter in 1990 and began writing his twice-weekly column on national policy and politics in 1993. In 1996, the column was syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group and now appears in more than 90 newspapers in the United States and abroad, including the Oklahoman and Tulsa World. In 1996, Dionne joined The Brookings Institution as a senior fellow in the governance studies program. He began teaching at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute as University Professor in the Foundations of Democracy and Culture in the fall of 2003.

1:30 – 3:00: Presentation and Panel: “Tax Credit Reform – From Talk to Action?”

While the need to reform the state’s special-interest tax breaks has been widely acknowledged by policymakers and outside experts in recent years, meaningful action has largely been thwarted.. Still, putting in place formal mechanisms to evaluate tax breaks and limiting or eliminating those that cannot be justified remains a priority for key legislators and statewide officeholders. This session will begin with a presentation by experts from the Pew Charitable Trusts who have spent several months studying tax credits in Oklahoma and developing recommendations, and will be followed by responses and proposals from key policymakers.

Featured Presenters:  Parry Carter and Jeff Chapman, Pew Charitable Trusts

Click here for the Presentation [PDF]

Panelists: Rep. David Dank, Chair, House Revenue and Tax Subcommittee; Rep. Scott Inman, House Minority Leader; Hon. Gary Jones, Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector; John Estus, Director of Public Affairs, Office of Management and Enterprise Services; Deidre Myers, Deputy Secretary for Workforce Development, Oklahoma Department of Commerce; Mark VanLandingham, Vice-President for Government Relations, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber; Jeff Chapman, Pew Charitable Trusts