The Weekly Wonk: Bills filed in special session put many options in play

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

The legislature began special session this week, and Policy Director Gene Perry pointed out that there are some good options in the bills filed during the first week – in addition to the cigarette tax, bills to restore the gross production tax and increase the top income tax rate were also filed. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update was also cautiously optimistic about avoiding further cuts to agency budgets given Gov. Fallin’s announcement of her intention to veto a budget that includes further cuts.

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column warned that business in Oklahoma may suffer more if the structural budget deficit is not addressed – an educated workforce and healthy citizens are crucial to attracting (and keeping) business in Oklahoma and we’re falling behind on those markers. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam pointed out that Insurance Commissioner John Doak is not helping – his recent order that Oklahoma Navigators turn over their Affordable Care Act enrollment data to his office may be detrimental to insurance enrollment in the state.

OK Policy in the News

Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator KJ McKee spoke with The Oklahoman about the importance of citizen advocacy at the Capitol during special session.  McKee was also interviewed by Fox25, where she explained how crucial it is that the legislature enact new revenues during the session – if they don’t, Oklahoma citizens are the ones who will suffer. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam weighed in on the latest attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act – the bill might have made insurance less expensive, but at the cost of coverage for essential health benefits. OK Policy data was used by The Oklahoman for a piece about the effects of legislative term limits.

Advocacy Alert

After one week of special session, legislators are struggling to agree on a revenue solution to the state budget crisis. They need to hear from you – revenues must be raised in order to adequately fund core services. Click here to see our Advocacy Alert to find your legislators and to get more information.

Weekly What’s That

Tax Base

The number of people, the kind of property, or the types of goods and services to which a tax is applied.

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

Quote of the Week

“We knocked close to 10,000 doors (during the campaign) and a lot of the feedback we were getting from the voters was they were not happy with the way things ended this year during the regular session. They were not happy that the education funding issue didn’t get solved or even really attempted. That was punted.”

– Mike Edwards, chairman of the Cleveland County Republican Party (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Writers, Tulsa World

The House met for about 17 minutes Monday and not at all on Wednesday. Although there was still work going on behind the scenes, that’s a pretty lackadaisical pace, especially since no one’s come up with a workable plan to solve anything. Then there’s House Bill 1093. Remembering that the special session was called to deal with a $215 million hole in a budget for the fiscal year that started two months ago, the bottom line on House Bill 1093 is important. It makes the budget hole bigger. When the same thing was proposed during the regular session, the House fiscal staff identified that it would have a one-time cost of $1.2 million and ongoing costs of $45,000 to $50,000 per month. Wait, there’s more: That cost would go to solve no actual problem.

Numbers of the Day

  • 15.2% – Percentage of Oklahoma households experiencing food insecurity in 2016
  • 17.5% – Out of all Oklahoma workers whose jobs are covered by a union or an employee association contract, the percentage who are not members of that union or association.
  • 18% – Uninsured rate for Oklahoma adults without dependent children in 2015
  • 27.6% – Share of jobs in Oklahoma with median annual pay below 100% of the poverty threshold for a family of four, 2015.
  • 5.4% – Percentage of Oklahoma adolescents age 12-17 reporting marijuana use in 2014-2015. The national average was 7.2%

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • The Biggest Misconception About Today’s College Students [The New York Times]
  • 2020 Census Funding: This Chart Says It All [The Census Project]
  • How tax policy subsidizes homeownership, mostly for the wealthiest Americans [City Observatory]
  • The Real Reason Middle America Should Be Angry [Washington Monthly]
  • To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now [New York Times]


Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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