The Weekly Wonk: The cost of tax cuts, women in state agency leadership; new policy analyst; and more…

the_weekly_wonk_logoWhat’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

We released a new study on Oklahoma’s income tax cuts since the mid-2000s, which are now reducing state revenues by more than $1 billion annually. Writing in the Tulsa World, David Blatt explained why oil prices aren’t the only reason for Oklahoma’s budget problems. Steve Lewis discussed how Oklahoma’s oncoming budget shortfall could be worse than the Great Recession, because this time we don’t have help from federal stimulus funds.

Also this week, OK Policy Research Fellow Alexandra Bohannon shared her research showing that women are severely underrepresented in the top leadership positions at state agencies. In the Journal Record, David Blatt’s argued that evidence of Oklahoma’s teacher shortage crisis has become overwhelming. We announced that Ryan Gentzler has joined OK Policy as an analyst focusing on criminal justice issues.

Upcoming Events

  • State Budget Summit: As Oklahoma’s 2016 legislative session approaches, the state’s budget crisis is uppermost on the mind of policymakers and the public. OK Policy’s 3rd Annual State Budget Summit will bring together experts and those affected by the budget crisis for a day of thoughtful discussion and exchange of ideas on Thursday, January 28th in Oklahoma City. The event is sold out, but if you already have your ticket you can find out more information here.
  • OK Policy in Tulsa’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade: OK Policy, the Together Oklahoma and Oklahoma Assets Network coalitions, and the Summer Policy Institute alumni network would like to invite our supporters and members to join us for our first marching group in the Tulsa Martin Luther King Jr parade on Monday, January 18th! Please email KJ at to RSVP and to receive further instructions. View the Facebook event page here.
  • “Dream On” film screening: OK Policy and the OSU Forum of Geography Graduate Students will host a screening of the new documentary Dream On at OSU-Stillwater on Tuesday, January 19th at 6:30pm. In an epic road trip, political comedian John Fugelsang retraces the journey of Alexis de Tocqueville to investigate the perilous state of the American Dream after decades of rising income inequality and declining economic mobility. Find out more and RSVP here.

OK Policy in the News

Oklahoma Watch reported on reactions to our study about the cost of tax over the past decade and their implications for the current budget shortfall. The Oklahoman editorial board gave us “credit for candor” for acknowledging that tax cuts are not the sole cause of the budget shortfall (they’re just making it significantly worse). NewsOn6 reported that a group of educators, legislators, and other Oklahomans are using OK Policy’s online tax cut calculator to donate their tax cuts back to public education.

Weekly What’s That

Oklahoma Health Care Authority

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) is a state government agency responsible for administering the state’s Medicaid program. OHCA’s mission is to “responsibly purchase state and federally-funded health care in the most efficient and comprehensive manner possible; to analyze and recommend strategies for optimizing the accessibility and quality of health care; and, to cultivate relationships to improve the health outcomes of Oklahomans.”

Look up more key terms to understand Oklahoma politics and government here.

Quote of the Week

“The quarter-cent tax cut did not cause the financial problem we’re in. Changing theseverance tax on oil and gas from 7 percent to 2 percent did not cause the problem. The lack of dealing with the tax credits and making sure the citizens of Oklahoma are getting their money’s worth … didn’t cause the problems. But I tell you what, they sure have made the problem a lot worse.”

-State Auditor Gary Jones, endorsing Tulsa Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Dunn’s criticism of Oklahoma’s tax cuts amid a massive budget shortfall (Source).

Editorial of the Week

Ginnie Graham, The Tulsa World

My household is going to be about $146 wealthier with this year’s reduction in Oklahoma’s personal income-tax rate. That’s about $2.80 extra per week for my family of four. Not bad, considering the average annual savings is $85. For my family, that could be two items off a fast-food dollar menu or two packages of gum. Saving up for a month, we could get almost two movie matinee tickets. To find your windfall, the nonprofit Oklahoma Policy Institute created an online calculator. For fun, I input other income amounts. When doubling the revenue for a family of my size, the savings was about $344, which is about $6.60 a week. Lucky dogs. That’s almost a large popcorn at the movie theater. While I’m basking in the joy of my largesse, the state budget has gone all cattywampus. My cheap bag of fries may end up causing teacher job losses or reducing senior nutrition programs.

Numbers of the Day

  • 0.7% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s fiscal year 2014 revenues that came from the lottery.
  • 50.002% – Percentage of Oklahoma preK-12 public school students who are non-Hispanic whites.
  • 61.3% – Percent of the Oklahoma population age 16 and up who were part of the labor force (working or looking for work) in 2014.
  • 82.7% – Oklahoma’s high school graduate rate for the 2013-14 school year, slightly above the national average of 82.3 percent.
  • 304,035 – Number of veterans in Oklahoma, about 10.6 percent of the state’s adult population.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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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