Oklahoma Policy Institute’s Do Something OK raises state budget crisis awareness (Red Dirt Report)

By Louis Fowler 

Photo provided

The main way they are trying to achieve this goal is through their latest initiative, the “Do Something OK” campaign, an entertaining approach to educating the public about some of the actions the Oklahoma Legislature could take to address the state’s budget emergency.

“The “Do Something OK” campaign is a response to Oklahoma’s massive budget shortfall for next year that, if we don’t do something, is threatening to devastate funding for our schools, healthcare, public safety and all sorts of other area of public services,” Gene Perry, Policy Director for Oklahoma Policy Institute said. “We have launched this public education campaign to inform Oklahomans about what lawmakers can do to stop this disaster and encourage Oklahomans to contact their lawmakers and persuade them to take sensible revenue options.”

OK Policy has developed a series of humorous puppet videos produced and performed by artist David Bizzaro, a former Oklahoman now based in New York, to help illustrate the group’s revenue proposals which include rolling back the most recent income tax cut that was never intended to take effect in the midst of a massive budget shortfall, ending the double deduction for state income tax, eliminating wasteful subsidies for energy producers, increasing the cigarette tax, and improved collection of Internet sales taxes.

“We put out a lot of information in a lot of different ways,” Perry said. “For people that like to read spreadsheets and long articles, we have those; but this is such an important issue that we really want to reach as many people as possible so we are producing things like this video and this infographic that are accessible and informative to people and will help them “get it” so they will be able to use that information.”

The first video in the series features a doctor who “chooses not to alter a treatment that isn’t working.” The videos can be viewed at www.dosomethingok.org. And while Perry admits that much of these cuts have been going on for years, it’s only now that people are starting to “get” just how harmful they will be.

“We’ve been cutting budgets for several years now in this state, but it’s been a bit at a time and people haven’t really seen it as something urgent,” Perry said. “But this year it’s grown so large and now we’re looking at things like four-day weeks and schools laying off teachers and threats to nursing homes and all sorts of other things that we’ve got to get people’s attention on a scale we really haven’t seen before.”

With a problem that is only going to get worse, OK Policy is betting on their revenue options as a way to “fix this mess,” but it can’t be done, Perry added, without everyday citizens “sending a message to our legislators that they believe this is a serious problem that is going to be a disaster for Oklahoma.”

“Armed with this information, Oklahomans can do something,” Perry said. “We can take action.”


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