The Weekly Wonk – April 11-15, 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 responded to the Governor’s call for ideas on how to close the state’s $500 million budget gap with a new report, “Protecting Core Services: Revenue Options for a Balanced Budget.”  The report lays out a series of revenue-raising options, summarized on our blog, including deferring cuts to the top income tax rate and suspending tax exemptions and loopholes.

One of those loopholes, online sales tax exemptions, was covered this week on our blog in a piece about ongoing efforts across the country to close the ‘Amazon’ online sales loophole.  An op-ed in today’s Oklahoman acknowledged that the main obstacle to a balanced budget in Oklahoma is not spending – as we’ve already drastically cut agency budgets.

Also this week on OK Policy Blog, a quick take on March revenue numbers.  All major tax categories increased in March over the same month a year ago with the exception of the personal income tax, but remain significantly below pre-downturn levels.  The U.S. Congress is debating hotly contested budget proposals for the coming year.  Yesterday’s blog post takes a look at one proposed budget change that would shift Medicaid funding from covering a fixed share of a state’s costs to an ever-shrinking annual block grant allotment.  Under the Ryan proposal, Oklahoma stands to lose 8.2 billion in health care dollars for seniors, persons with disabilities, and children over ten years.

Numbers of the Week

  • 13.9 – Students per teacher in Oklahoma public education classrooms, 2008-2009; the national average is 15.3
  • 70 percent – Increase in Oklahoma foreclosure filings between the last quarters of 2008 and 2010
  • 1,266,189 – Recreation visits to National Parks in Oklahoma in 2010
  • $7.25 – Hourly minimum wage in Oklahoma; state statute adopts the Federal minimum wage rate by reference
  • 74 – Tornadoes in Oklahoma in 2010; 6th most in the country

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


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