Weekly Wonk: The real impact of a flat-rate income tax | Poorest Oklahomans need actions, not words | State’s anti-ESG law filled with twists, turns | We’re Hiring – Applications close tomorrow

What’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

Policy Matters: Poorest Oklahomans need actions, not words: Oklahoma has among the nation’s highest poverty rates with 1 in 6 people — and 1 in 5 children — living at the federal poverty level. Given these high rates, Oklahoma leaders should prioritize ways to invest in the health and well-being of low-wage earners, raising the quality of life in communities statewide. But that’s just not happening. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

State’s anti-ESG law filled with twists, turns (Capitol Update): Oklahoma politics is sometimes a small world. In 2022, given the opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty to the state’s oil and gas industry, legislators passed House Bill 2034, the “Energy Discrimination Elimination Act of 2022, known as Oklahoma’s anti-ESG (environmental, social and governance) law.” Last week, the court ruled the act unconstitutional and issued an order temporarily enjoining State Treasurer Russ from enforcing it pending final outcome of the case. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

OK Policy in the News

How a proposed flat-rate income tax would impact Oklahomans: David Hamby, communications director at the Oklahoma Policy Institute, said flattening the state income tax as proposed by the Republican majority in HB 2950 would benefit the wealthy and hurt low and middle-income earners. [KOSU]

Upcoming Opportunities

  • Application Deadline Monday, May 20: Development Associate and Administrative & Office Coordinator [Learn More]

Weekly What’s That

Sine die

Sine die is a term for the adjournment of an assembly for an indefinite period, from the Latin “without day.” In March 1989, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved State Question 620, a voter-initiated constitutional amendment providing that regular legislative sessions begin on the first Monday in February and adjourn sine die not later than 5:00 pm on the last Friday in May. Special sessions are also adjourned sine die but there is no set date for their adjournment.

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

Quote of the Week

“This law has the potential to destroy the connections and relationships we have built within our local immigrant communities and set us back for many years to come.”

– The Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police and Metro Law Enforcement Agency leaders said in a join statement this week regarding HB4156, the anti-immigration bill set to go into effect on July 1, 2024. [Fox25]

Editorial of the Week

Opinion: Budget transparency sparks clash over tax cuts

State policymakers need to fix a revenue-generating system built on the backs of workaday Sooners, who percentage-wise pay far more in taxes than the wealthy elites living comfortably in Nichols Hills and Southern Hills.

That Stitt and McCall even promoted a .25% personal income tax cut is political malpractice. Guess who scores with that deal? The state’s deepest pockets. The average Oklahoman, by contrast, would save about $1.77 a week – the equivalent of about a Happy Meal a month.

If Stitt and McCall are sincerely looking out for the little people, how about a small income tax cut for those earning less than $100,000 annually? Everyone else can live with the state’s already low 4.75% rate.

And how about increasing the Sales Tax Relief Credit? As OK Policy Executive Director Shiloh Kantz noted, “raising it from $40 to $200 per person and raising qualification levels would put much-needed cash back in the pockets of low-income Oklahoma families.” [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Numbers of the Day

  • 14 – Of the 43 states that collect a personal income tax, only 14 states have tax rates lower than Oklahoma’s top marginal rate of 4.75%. [Tax Foundation
  • 9th – Oklahoma’s tax base, which relies heavily on inherently unstable Gross Production and Corporate Income taxes, is ranked the ninth most volatile in the country. [Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency]
  • 10.8% – Share of Oklahoma entrepreneurs who are immigrants. [American Immigration Council]
  • 39% – Homeownership rate for Black Oklahomans, compared to the state average of 65.4%. In Oklahoma, the homeownership for whites is 70.1% and the Hispanic/Latino rate is 53.6%. [Prosperity Now]
  • $1.92 million – Amount of taxpayer money from the state’s refundable private school tax credit program that was used to pay down parents’ debts and delinquent taxes last year. The legislation that created the tax credit program in 2023 included no such prohibition, prompting lawmakers to modify the law this session to clarify the credits are non-taxable income and can’t be reduced for outstanding debts. [Oklahoma Voice]

What We’re Reading

  • Many states are eager to extend Medicaid to people soon to be released from prison: A new policy that allows states to provide Medicaid health care coverage to incarcerated people at least a month prior to their release has drawn bipartisan interest and a slew of state applications. Federal policy has long prohibited Medicaid spending on people who are incarcerated in jails or prisons, except for hospitalization. As a result, when people are released, they typically don’t have health insurance and many struggle to find health care providers and get needed treatment. In a population that is disproportionately likely to have chronic conditions such as heart disease and substance use disorders, that can be deadly. [Stateline]
  • Cities and counties might be at risk of losing billions if they don’t obligate American Rescue Plan funds correctly: State and local governments have until December 31, 2024, to “obligate” the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) they received as part of 2021’s American Rescue Plan Act. Community partners and other stakeholders are concerned that some recipient governments will not obligate their full allotment of funds, perhaps through misunderstandings of the rules. With time running short, it is imperative that advocates take steps to encourage governments in their area to make certain they have obligated the funds correctly. [Economic Policy Institute]
  • Our revised race standards still fall short for Indigenous Americans: This March, the White House Office of Management and Budget published new standards for race and ethnicity data to help policymakers and researchers collect more accurate statistics on underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. These changes are a positive development, but they don’t go far enough to solve the most significant data issues facing another group: American Indians and Alaska Natives. [The Hill]
  • The Home Mortgage Interest Deduction Reinforces Racial Disparities: A new report finds that the US tax code’s home mortgage interest deduction (HMID) favors White families relative to Black and Hispanic or Latino families. That’s not surprising.  A legacy of discrimination in the housing market and mortgage lending industry has contributed to lower homeownership rates among Black and Hispanic families than among White families. [Tax Policy Center]
  • “Crisis” in Context: What the Mariel Boatlift Can Teach Us About the Current Trends in Immigration: Recent immigration to the United States is one of the most hotly contested issues in the country, and while immigration is not new by any means, the recent increase in the number of migrants over the nation’s southern border has stirred tremendous controversy. As we look at today’s challenges and opportunities, we can learn a lot by looking back at previous waves of immigration to place the current “crisis” in its appropriate historical context. This is not the first time the United States has seen a quick increase in the number of new immigrant arrivals. How has this gone in the past? [Immigration Research Initiative]


Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.