The Weekly Wonk: Ending the year with a surplus; a windfall for the wealthiest; 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

In his Capitol Update, Steve Lewis explained that we need to begin working now to create change in the next legislative session. Executive Director David Blatt examined how, after two revenue failures, the state will end the fiscal year with a surplus. Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses how poverty-fighting measures identified by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof (here) have fallen to budget cuts

Policy Director Gene Perry wrote that Oklahoma’s capital gains tax break is a windfall for the wealthiest with no proven benefit for the economy. Intern Tara Grigson discussed how Oklahoma can bring down its high teen birth rate. A new installment in our Neglected Oklahoma series shared the story of how LGBTQ youth in Oklahoma’s foster care system can be let down by the people who are supposed to be taking care of them.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to NewsOK and KOCO about the state’s surprise surplus going into the end of the fiscal year. Blatt also spoke to NewsOK on dwindling oil production tax revenues. OU professor Lawrence Baines used OK Policy data in a Tulsa World op-ed arguing against “Legislative Psychosis.”

Weekly What’s That

Board of Equalization

The State Board of Equalization was established in 1907 by the Oklahoma Constitution. The Board is responsible for providing an official estimate of how much revenue will be available for the Oklahoma Legislature to budget for the coming year. The seven-member Board is composed of six statewide elected officials – the Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Superintendent of Instruction, and State Auditor – plus the Secretary of Agriculture. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“I’ve done this way too many years, and I have a feeling we’re looking at more (state) revenue failures. We’re not out of the woods yet.”

– Claremore Public Schools Superintendent Mike McClaren, after the district cut 25 teaching positions in an effort to cut costs going into the next school year (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Board, The Tulsa World

Every bit of it is all messed up, and we’re accelerating toward more of the same next year. The budget relies on one-time funding sources, which ensures that next year we almost certainly start out with a very big budget hole, and there’s the specter of another cut to the state income tax rate if state revenue figures ever tick up a bit. The Legislature fell short of fixing that one, just as it failed to deal with the need to roll back the previous income tax rate cut, the need to accept federal funding for health care coverage and the need to increase taxes on the No. 1 cause of preventable death, cigarettes.

Numbers of the Day

  • 380 – Number of morticians, undertakers, and funeral directors working in Oklahoma in May 2015
  • 29.9 – Number of deaths caused by diabetes per 100,000 in Oklahoma in 2013
  • $178.50 – Total of court fees added to the $10 fine for speeding 1-10 mph over the limit in Oklahoma
  • 14.3%  – Percentage of Oklahoma adults reporting that they have asthma (2014)

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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.

2 thoughts on “The Weekly Wonk: Ending the year with a surplus; a windfall for the wealthiest; and more

  1. Thank You. I just wanted to express my appreciation for all you do. I read your writings daily. I don’t hit that little like button or share everyday but I’d be lost with you! Keep up the good reporting!

  2. Thank you so much for presenting the issues facing our state in a clear and non-partisan format, backed by facts. In this state it is so hard to trust so much of what we hear and see. I feel comfortable in quoting anything I find on this site. Keep fighting the good fight!

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