The Weekly Wonk – May 13, 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 reviewed the state’s FY ’12 budget agreement on our blog.  We applaud leadership for protecting our most vulnerable populations by targeting available funds for Medicaid, human services, and mental health, but ask if state agencies facing a third consecutive year of budget cuts are being provided enough resources to continue to perform their core missions.

OK Policy has long called for a balanced approach to the state budget and we urged leaders to avoid further cuts to key public services by choosing among an array of fiscal tools for closing the budget shortfall.  Click here for our spreadsheet tracking state agency appropriations from FY’09 to FY ’12.  Click below to watch OK Policy Director David Blatt discuss the state budget on ONR (Oklahoma News Report) this week on OETA:

Also this week, Oklahoma is teeming with predatory lenders who lure consumers into debt traps with promises of quick cash.  Read our blog post on payday lending to understand how the practice erodes the financial stability of working poor families.  Some states enforce usury laws and interest-rate caps that adequately protect consumers from the worst of these practices but many, including Oklahoma, do not.  We have more payday lenders in Oklahoma than McDonalds and Wal Marts combined.

OK Policy blog kicked-off the week with reflections on a House decision to reject a minor technical revision that would have helped Oklahoma continue to collect millions in tax revenue from out-of-state retailers.  SB 744 had no fiscal impact and created no new tax obligations; it simply clarified the application of taxes on sales that are already taxable.  Monday’s blog post, Phantom Menace: Fear of “lurking taxes” may deepen budget holes, exposed the ‘tax hike’ scare tactics that prevented the technical fix and creates obstacles to a balanced budget.

In The Know Policy Notes

Numbers of the Week

  • 11 percent – Percentage of their income Oklahomans spent on gasoline on average in April 2011; the national average is 8.9 percent
  • 14.3 – Average days out of 30 that Oklahoma residents reported not getting enough sleep in 2008.  Oklahoma ranked 4th highest among other states in sleep-deprived residents
  • 11.4 percent – Increase in foreclosure filings in Oklahoma between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the 1st quarter of 2011
  • 53.5 percent – Oklahoma’s voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election; 41st in the nation
  • 8 – Permanent standing conference committees in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, as of a 2011 rule change

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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