The Weekly Wonk – April 1, 2011

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk is dedicated to this week’s events, publications, and blog posts.

This week OK Policy released a fact sheet on gross production tax exemptions.  Gross production of oil and gas is normally taxed at seven percent, but various types of production are fully or partly exempt from the tax.  Monday’s blog post, “I don’t need it but I’ll take it,” ponders the fiscal wisdom of handing out tens of millions of dollars in exemptions when even oil industry executives admit the breaks are of the least importance in their decision to drill.  The Tulsa World reports on OK Policy’s research and the millions in lost revenue from oil and gas exemptions.

Tuesday’s blog highlighted legislative efforts to rescind higher education benefits for undocumented students.  Two bills working their way through the legislative process seek to turn back the clock by repealing a 2003 law that allowed undocumented Oklahoma high school students to be eligible for resident tuition status at public colleges and universities.  Despite the claim that tax-payers are subsidizing ‘illegal aliens,’ the amount in tuition and fees paid into the higher education system by undocumented students – $1,074,693 between 2005 and 2009 – far exceeded the amount the state waived for in-state status ($254,026).

“A tale of two closing funds, the Chinese Communist Party, and genetically modified mice,” takes a closer look at a major new program on the governor’s wish list: a deal-closing fund to entice new businesses to Oklahoma. The fund would allow the Governor and Department of Commerce to do thing like help cover businesses’ relocation and expansion costs or invest in capital improvements requested by a company.  If history is any guide, putting the fund at the discretion of the governor provides inadequate safeguards against political favors or unwise award decisions.

Register for an upcoming ‘Loan Modification Scam Alert Summit’ in Tulsa on April 8th.  Expert speakers will shed light on the growing problem of loan modification fraud and share tools and resources to help combat the scams.  Finally, don’t miss an important April 1st announcement from Oklahoma Policy Institute on today’s blog.

Numbers of the Week

  • $93.13 – Average monthly residential electric bill in Oklahoma, 2009.
  • $14,000 – Annual savings to the state per offender of drug courts compared to incarceration.
  • 8.3 percent – Oklahoma’s electricity generated through renewable sources in 2008.
  • $1.03 – Cigarette excise tax per pack in Oklahoma, 2011.
  • 1,080,354 – Acres of Oklahoma land owned by the Federal Government, 2009.

Click here for source citations and archived numbers of the day.

In the Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blog posts.  You can sign up here to receive In the Know in your inbox each weekday morning and the Weekly Wonk each Friday afternoon.


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