The Weekly Wonk: May 18, 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 data showing that middle-class children are falling behind in Oklahoma schools. We described how a bill to drug-test welfare recipients has been much improved from its original version.

Also this week, we showed how the earned income tax credit has a long history of support from conservative leaders. We argued that automatic tax cut triggers are a bad idea because politicians make bad fortune-tellers. We shared a letter from 30 prominent Oklahoma business executives, civic leaders and philanthropists urging lawmakers to reject tax cut triggers.

OK Policy analyst Gene Perry was interviewed by KJRH about how further cuts to the income tax would harm core services. Gene was also quoted in The Tulsa World about how education funding is suffering because the overall pie is shrinking. Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column discussed how the most ambitious tax cut proposals failed because they were based on the false promise of a free lunch.

A guest post from Nick Johnson of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities exposed the false claims in a Wall Street Journal editorial about Oklahoma’s income tax debate. We issued statements in response to the tax cut plan released by Senate Republicans and the eventual tax cut deal between the Governor, House, and Senate. Our Q&A explained the main aspects of the tax cut agreement.

In The Know, Policy Notes

Numbers of the Week

  • 1 in 4 – Proportion of Oklahoma families that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit on their state returns, 2009
  • 91 percent – Percentage of Oklahoma’s construction firms that employ fewer than twenty employees, 2009
  • $4.5 million – The total annual cost to the taxpayers of maintaining Oklahoma’s prison system, housing an average of 24,549 inmates a day, FY 2010
  • 30 – Number of counties in Oklahoma where the percentage of the population that is employed is lower now than it was in 2006, including the state’s most populated counties – Tulsa and Oklahoma.
  • 36.8 percent – Percentage of the population of Oklahoma that lives in a rural area, more than twice the national average of 16.9 percent.



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