The Weekly Wonk – July 1, 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 address recent statements by Gov. Fallin that her long-term goal is to do away with the income tax.  Monday’s post looks back at the early 2000s, when the state embarked on an extensive tax reform process guided, at least initially, by the goal of eliminating the income tax and making Oklahoma’s tax system resemble that of Texas.

On Wednesday, we took a look at new consumer protections in the health care reform law.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not fundamentally alter how states regulate insurers, but it does strengthen basic safeguards, like requiring states to conduct annual reviews of “unreasonable increases” in premiums.  The new health reform law also institutes a standard national medical loss ratio (MLR), which requires insurers to spend 80-85 percent of premium revenues directly on medical care.

We blogged this week about how Oklahoma Assets, a statewide coalition that aims to help Oklahoma residents achieve economic security, has been making big strides in recent months.  Don’t miss our conversation with Amina Benalioulhaj, the director of Women Behind Bars, a new documentary about female incarceration in Oklahoma.  OK Policy Director David Blatt spoke with CapitolBeatOK about flaws in an ALEC report that ranks states’ economic outlook based solely on low taxes and lack of worker and consumer protections.  Policy analyst Gene Perry was quoted in the Tulsa World on the prospects of attempts to rein in state tax expenditures.

In the Know, Policy Notes

Numbers of the Week

  • 10 – Number of death row inmates exonerated since 1970 in Oklahoma; 96 people have been executed.
  • 91,900 – Number of unemployed persons in Oklahoma in May 2011; 124,500 people were unemployed during the same month last year.
  • 23.1 – The average age of mothers at first birth in Oklahoma, 2006; up 2.4 years since 1970’s average of 20.7
  • 9¢ – Cents out of every dollar earned that Oklahomans pay in state and local taxes.
  • $12 million – Amount cut from the state education budget in bonuses and scholarships to teachers who obtain National Board Certification.


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