The Weekly Wonk – April 29, 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 at OK Policy we blogged about an unlikely request to area governors from Kansas City business executives – stop offering tax incentives.  Competing incentives incite an “economic border war,” where companies move back and forth across state lines chasing profits, but without benefiting the community or economy at large.  Oklahoma recently received an object lesson on the futility of state subsidy wars, but the problem is a nationwide phenomena.  We propose that it makes far more sense to invest in a strong general infrastructure and workforce, then in bonuses and incentives for particular businesses and corporations.

This past weekend the Tulsa World wrote an editorial citing Director David Blatt on the impact of repealing the Sales Tax Relief Credit on poor Oklahomans.  Click here for our blog post last week on a legislative proposal to repeal this credit.  The bill died this week after it was not heard in the House.

Yesterday’s blog explained how growing income disparities erode public structures and political community.  Inequality, as measured by the U.S. Census Bureau’s Gini index, has increased in Oklahoma over each of the past three decades, going from 0.419 in 1979 to 0.445 in 1989;  0.455 in 1999 and 0.460 in 2009.  However, Oklahoma’s Gini coefficient in 2009 (0.460) was below the national average (0.468) and we rank 32nd among the states.  Today on OK Policy blog, guest blogger Jeffrey Alderman, M.D. highlights the ever-shrinking pool of health care providers in Oklahoma.

Board Chair Vince LoVoi spoke up on behalf of OK Policy this week with a defense of our core values:

Foremost, we are nonpartisan and will never subscribe to labels, left or right, red or blue, Democrat or Republican. Second, we focus solely on the betterment of Oklahoma.  Our priorities are fiscal responsibility; the fair, adequate and efficient delivery of essential services; and economic opportunity for middle- and lower-income Oklahomans….To that end, we will share ideas with any Oklahoman who shares our goals, whatever label they may or may not wear.

Numbers of the Week

  • 13,485,000 – Visits to state parks in Oklahoma in 2007
  • $2,499 – Median credit card debt in Oklahoma, 2008; the national median credit card debt is $2,960
  • 13,200 – Non-farm jobs added to the Oklahoma economy between February and March 2011
  • 36.2 percent – Oklahoma families that are ‘low-income working families’ (income below 200% of the federal poverty line in 2007); 28 percent are ‘low-income working families’ nationally
  • 130 – Years a prospective Mexican immigrant would have to wait to gain legal admission to the U.S. after applying for an unskilled worker visa.

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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