The Weekly Wonk: February 24th, 2012

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 presented a second study that further debunked a report being used by those trying to abolish the income tax.  Our new fact sheet summarized numerous flaws in their report.  Our work was cited in articles by Stateline, OU Daily, and the Associated Press on Gov. Fallin’s tax plan.  We prepared a memo that compares the major tax cut proposals in the legislature and launched an animated video that showed that in the Oklahoma v. Texas Economy Bowl, the team with the income tax is winning.

We explained how the state ended up on the hook for hundreds of millions in payouts to oil and gas companies.  We provided an update of how state budget cuts are endangering child welfare, public safety, education, and other core services.  Oklahoma’s schools have been hit particularly hard by several rounds of budget cuts.

Finally,  we posted about an upcoming event with Lilly Ledbetter, the inspiration for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, who will give a free, public lecture at the University of Oklahoma.  Our issue brief, “8 Reasons Why Oklahoma Should Preserve The State Income Tax” is now also available in Spanish.

In The Know, Policy Notes

  • Economist Nancy Folbre points out that our discussion of taxes and public spending at one point in time often leaves out the benefits all Americans receive over their entire lifetime.
  • Governing reports that prison populations in the U.S. have declined for the first time in nearly four decades.
  • The New York Times reports on how Indian reservations have grappled for years with high crime rates, but the Justice Department files charges in only about half of murder investigations and turns down nearly two-thirds of sexual assault cases.
  • A study of unauthorized immigrants in Oklahoma City shows that restrictive laws have not caused immigrants to self-deport.
  • The Center for American Progess shows how racial stereotypes undermine public support for much-needed anti-poverty programs and lead to misguided policies aimed at solving nonexistent problems.

Numbers of the Day

  • 0.4 percent – Percent
age of 
 infrastructure for biking and walking in Oklahoma, 2008
  • 22 percent – Percentage of public school teachers in Oklahoma who were men in 2011, 38th least in the nation.
  • 8.6 billion – Amount in annual Social Security benefits paid to Oklahomans in 2009.
  • $11,600 – The amount of income, for married couples, that is not taxed in Oklahoma because of the standard deduction.
  • 2.1 percent – Percentage decline in government spending at all levels in the United States in 2011—the biggest drop since 1971.


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