The Weekly Wonk: Budget highlights; oil and gas taxes fuel revenue boom; end-of-session round-ups; & more…

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

The Weekly Wonk was published with contributions from Public Policy Intern Joi-Michelle Rhodes.

This Week from OK Policy

This week, we released a new analysis of Oklahoma’s FY 2020 state budget. Authored by Budget and Tax Senior Policy Analyst Paul Shinn, the report includes a bullet point summary of the state budget, charts illustrating key aspects of the budget, and a table showing appropriations for every state agency going back to 2009. In addition, Executive Director David Blatt explained how increased gross production taxes are fueling that state’s revenue boom. 

This week we also launched our End of Session Round-Ups on the different policy issues we work on:

In the latest OK PolicyCast episode, Communications and Strategy Director Gene Perry spoke with Nehemiah Frank, founder and executive editor of The Black Wall Street Times. They talked about the history of Black Wall Street, including some of the aspects of that history that haven’t gotten as much attention, even amid renewed focus on the 1921 race massacre. 

In his weekly Journal Record column, Blatt was disappointed to see much-needed criminal justice reform delayed a year — again. Likewise, Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update expressed his disappointment with the delay.

In this week’s edition of Meet OK Policy, we’re featuring Open Justice Oklahoma Director and Dog Dad, Ryan Gentzler.

Upcoming Opportunities

Now hiring: Outreach and Legislative Liaison position: OK Policy is seeking an experienced and effective outreach and legislative liaison to lead our outreach work in Oklahoma City, advancing policies that will expand opportunity for all Oklahomans.  The deadline to apply is Friday, June 21st.

Weekly What’s That

Gross production tax, what’s that?

The gross production tax, or severance tax, is a value-based tax levied at a basic rate of 7 percent upon the production of oil and gas in Oklahoma. Under legislation approved in the 2017 special session (HB 1010xx), oil and gas from newly-spudded wells will be taxed at 5 percent for the first 36 months of production effective June 27, 2018. Previously, new production was being taxed at 2 percent for 36 months. One percent of gross production tax revenues is divided between counties and school districts, with the remainder going to the state. Click here to read more about Gross production tax.

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Chart of the Week

From the FY 2020 Budget Highlights report

Quote of the Week

“There’s never anything good about a disaster. Never. But if there is a silver lining, we’ve finally gained the attention of a presidential administration and these other federal agencies.”

– Tulsa Chamber President Mike Neal [Tulsa World]

Editorial of the Week

Three 2020 storylines that bear watching

With the first session of the 57th Legislature already a fading memory, political eyes naturally turn to 2020. It’s a presidential election year, of course. But Oklahomans also will decide who fills one of our two U.S. Senate seats and whether Republicans hold their legislative supermajorities. Additionally, voters could determine the fate of one of the most contentious public policy issues of our time: expanding Medicaid coverage to 100,000 working poor. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record].

Numbers of the Day

  • 10,777 – Number of inmates the Oklahoma Department of Corrections received in Fiscal Year 2018.
  • 18,700 – Estimated number of immigrants in Oklahoma who would be eligible for protection and a path to citizenship under the American Dream and Promise Act introduced in Congress.
  • 1.57 billion – The amount requested by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for additional beds, hepatitis C treatment, critical facility repairs, and staff raises in FY 2020. The increase approved by lawmakers this year was $38.3 million (2.4% of the request).
  • 41% – Average amount that housing takes up of low-income family budgets, more than any other expenditure.
  • $504.8 million – Value of exports to Mexico from Oklahoma (2016).

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Public housing agencies oppose HUD’s plan to evict immigrant families [Governing]
  • States can help lower income families save, starting with the Earned Income Tax Credit [Forbes]
  • Raj Chetty has an idea for introducing students to econ that could transform the field — and society [Vox]
  • The keys to helping kids overcome poverty [Governing]
  • The struggle to hire and keep doctors in rural areas means patients go without care [NPR]


Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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