The Weekly Wonk: September 21, 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 the OK Policy blog featured a guest post on why the labor force participation rate is shrinking. We explained how ambiguities in the legislation and ballot title language make it appear as if the Department of Human Services could be abolished if voters approve SQ 765. We looked at what policymakers and school leaders have already done to consolidate schools and reduce administrative costs.

Also this week, we discussed newly released Census data showing Oklahoma’s poverty rate remains unchanged from 2010 and is still above the national average. OK Policy analyst Gene Perry was quoted in a Tulsa World story on the Census data. Analyst Kate Richey spoke with KOSU for a story on the state question to ban affirmative action in Oklahoma.

OK Policy Director David Blatt wrote op-eds for the Oklahoma Gazette on rising transportation spending and for The Journal Record on how the Affordable Care Act is expanding the health care safety net. David spoke to the Tulsa World about how declining education funding could harm the economy. The Norman Transcript cited our blog post in a story on controversy over State Question 766 to exempt corporations’ intangible property from taxation.

Policy Notes

  • The Atlantic examines a new report from the Congressional Research Service which found no evidence that cutting taxes spurs economic growth.
  • Wonkbook explains why the characterization of people who don’t pay federal income tax as “takers” is not true.
  • Citizens for Tax Justice points out three things Romney forgot to say about who pays taxes.
  • The Crime Report examines new initiatives to curb sexual assaults against homosexual and transgender inmates, who are 13 to 20 times more likely to be raped than incarcerated heterosexuals.
  • Matthew Yglesias rebuts the two biggest myths about the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing plan.

Quotes of the Week

  • I’m not surprised.  It kind of verifies what we already knew. We have a problem in Oklahoma. – Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma state director for the Humane Society, on a national report ranking Oklahoma 2nd in the number of complaints logged by consumers about disreputable breeders or ‘puppy mills.’
  • You can take each one of these tax reductions independently and say, ‘that’s not going to hurt very much,’ but when you take them together and couple it with the fact that schools are being funded at less than 2008 levels, I think you’re facing a critical problem. – Norman Schools Superintendent Joe Siano, on the impact SQ 766 could have on school funding.
  • Oil and natural gas is an important supporter of our economy, and we all know that. But, sometimes dollars and cents override common sense when it comes to the construction details on a pipeline like this. –Danny Ewbank, owner of a water well drilling company, on concerns that a planned crude oil pipeline could endanger the primary water source for Enid
  • That’s sad because it’s so shortsighted. The research is pretty clear that efforts in prevention save a lot of money down the road. –Roger Dirks, member of a Kansas Juvenile Corrections Advisory Board, on a proposal to cut delinquency prevention programs. Every state agency in Kansas has been ordered to reduce their budgets by 10 percent to cover shortfalls due to large income tax cuts that passed earlier this year.
  • The fact that poverty basically stayed the same even though the overall economy is improving shows that we are looking at a very uneven recovery. What that shows is we are seeing a good economy for some, but there are a whole lot of other people who are being left out. – OK Policy analyst Gene Perry, speaking about new Census numbers showing that the poverty rate in Oklahoma was unchanged from 2010 to 2011 and remains above the national average


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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