The Weekly Wonk: The big and little budget pictures; the empathy gap; & 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

It was a busy week on the OK Policy Blog. We released a statement on the proposed budget, stating that lawmakers have not risen to the challenge of a historic budget shortfall. Executive Director David Blatt compared the proposed budget to past budgets and noted that the agreement leaves Rainy Day funds available for appropriations on the table. Blatt also wrote that greater than half the additional revenues in the budget agreement consist of non-recurring revenues that won’t be available next year. In his Journal Record column, Blatt wrote that by ending the refundability of the EITC for working-class families, legislators abandoned their constituents who most needed their help. A video featuring Policy Analyst and Oklahoma Assets Network coordinator DeVon Douglass explained how advocates shaped the budget debate and what still needed to be done.

Policy Director Gene Perry pointed out that the budget’s funding cuts for higher education present a substantial threat to Oklahoma’s economy. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam explained how the budget brings more bad news to children, seniors, and Oklahomans with disabilities, and will add to the cost of mental illness in Oklahoma. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler wrote that instead of making progress on fees and fines, legislation filed at the last minute proposed to hike them even further. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update recapped what happened with the cigarette tax.

OK Policy in the News

Oklahoma Watch included OK Policy work while discussing the Legislature’s decision to gut the EITC. Blatt also spoke to Oklahoma Watch comparing corporate tax credits with the EITC, and to KFOR, NewsOK, the Tulsa World, and other people about the significant funding increase to Legislative Services Bureau. Perry was quoted by NewsOK on a proposal to raise the sales tax. Outreach and Advocacy Specialist Kara Joy McKee spoke to KFOR and KOCO about a grassroots movement to push Legislators to build a better budget. The Tulsa World quoted OK Policy’s statement on legislation passed to slash the EITC.

Weekly What’s That

Pocket veto

If a bill passes the Oklahoma Legislature during the final 5 days of session, the Governor has 15 days to sign or veto it. If the Governor does not sign or veto the bill within 15 days, it does not become law. This is known as a “pocket veto.” No reasons for the pocket veto are required, and no override is possible. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“I think it’s crazy. In North Dakota, they’ve set away like $2 billion for something similar like this to happen and, in Oklahoma, we’ve only set away a fraction of that.”

– Matthew Mcquistion, a 14-year-old who marched for better education funding on Thursday as part of the third Let’s Fix This rally (Source). During the oil boom, North Dakota invested oil and gas tax revenues in a conservatively-invested sovereign wealth fund that could be used to shield the state from the effects of economic downturns.

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Oklahoman

Citizen often complain that state lawmakers focus too much on minor issues appealing only to a minority while ignoring Oklahoma’s budget challenges. Those criticisms are not entirely fair, but lawmakers have done themselves no favors by conducting most budget work behind closed doors. The lack of transparency means many citizens and businesses are now being blindsided by apparently last-minute tax and spending plans. We make this point every year, but greater transparency would aid informed debate, produce a better final legislative product and increase public confidence. When bills are hastily unveiled and rushed through during the session’s final days, mistakes are inevitably made.

Numbers of the Day

  • 19.6% – Percentage of Oklahomans without a usual place of medical care (2014)
  • 15.9% – Percentage of Oklahomans ages 16-24 who are not in school and not working
  • $7.93 – Average cost per watt of solar power in Oklahoma, 10th highest in the country
  • 38th – Oklahoma’s 2015 State Energy Efficiency ranking
  • 1% – Oklahoma’s share of total U.S. spending on Medicaid in 2014

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares [The Upshot]
  • Balanced Budget Amendment Proposal Is Extreme by International Standards [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
  • The Laws that Betrayed Their Makers: Why Mandatory Minimums Still Exist [Huffington Post]
  • 2.7 Million Kids Have Parents in Prison. They’re Losing Their Right to Visit. [The Nation]
  • The tremendously good news about the young that we’ve been ignoring [Washington Post]


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

One thought on “The Weekly Wonk: The big and little budget pictures; the empathy gap; & more…

  1. The North Dakota observation ignores one other simple item in that state’s budget armament: It has a State Bank. The Bank of ND allows government to have a line of credit, rather than a “prudent reserve,” typically carved out of the budget for those least able to afford it.

    If we want to re-invigorate the public realm public banking is going to be an important ingredient. It used to be part of the American landscape. A public bank (Herbert Hoover’s Reclamation Trust Corporation) funded the TVA, and the first (San Francisco) Bay Bridge for FDR. Eisenhower terminated that agency, and now such projects (e.g. the Bay Bridge re-build) are funded by the likes of Goldman Sachs.

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