The Weekly Wonk – February 3rd, 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 and the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) co-released the 2012 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard, which showed that more than one in four Oklahoma households are “asset poor,” meaning they have little or no financial cushion to rely on in an emergency.  The Tulsa World and the Oklahoman covered Oklahoma’s Scorecard results in depth.

We pointed out that if legislators make the choice to prioritize tax cuts, they cannot pretend to be blameless when funds aren’t available for crucial services.  We hosted a debate about whether or not to require a prescription for pseudoephedrine, featuring Jessica Hawkins, the Director of Prevention Services for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and former state Senator Ed Long.

Finally this week, the Associated Press quoted us in an article on a regional trend of GOP action to axe state income taxes. The Tulsa World presented a summary of our issue brief defending the income tax. The Journal Record cited our work on worsening poverty in Oklahoma and legislative proposals that would make it even harder to be poor. The OK Policy Blog featured a short video about ‘community schools,’ a comprehensive approach to education that makes the school the hub of the community.

Numbers of the Day

  • $136 – Average tax increase on elderly Oklahoma couples with $35,000 in income under a legislative proposal to eliminate a slate of broad-based tax credits and exemptions.
  • 8,100 – Number of manufacturing jobs added in Oklahoma from January to December of 2011, up 8.4 percent for the year.
  • 178, 020 – Number of Oklahoma children under age 6 who need daily child care during the week because their primary caregiver/s participate in the labor force, 2009
  • 6,592 – Number of Oklahomans who tested for their GED in 2009; 70.1 percent received their GED, just above the average national pass rate of 69.4 percent.
  • 11th – Oklahoma’s rank among the states in percentage of households with no computer in their home, 2010

In The Know, Policy Notes

  • The Foundation for Child Development finds that states with higher taxes and greater investment in public programs score highest for Child Well-Being.
  • The Economic Policy Institute points out that the massive tax cuts propose by GOP presidential candidates don’t square with professed concerns about public debt.
  • Demos shows that the pay premium gained by joining the federal workforce is reserved largely for less-skilled workers, and rather than disparaging public sector pay levels, we should embrace them as standards from which the private sector has shamefully deviated over the last three decades.
  • The Shriver Center examines the trend of states issuing public benefits through bankcards and the implications of card fees for low-income people.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek reports on falling premiums for Medicare Advantage, a private health insurance option for Medicare beneficiaries.



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