Weekly Wonk: Expanding taxes on services would diversify state revenue | Capitol Update | Together OK Community Meeting

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

Tax cuts expected to be considered during upcoming session (Capitol Update): Flush with cash and an oil economy producing record revenues, state savings accounts now serve as an excuse for further tax cuts. Although the state is near the bottom metrics on everything from health care to education, the political leadership will likely be unable to resist the tax cut mentality. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Policy Matters: Expanding taxes on services would diversify revenue base: Taxes are again expected to take a prominent role during the upcoming legislative session. To best position our state for success, lawmakers should consider only those tax reforms that both strengthen the state’s revenue base to deliver essential shared services and make our taxes fairer. [Shiloh Kantz / Journal Record]

OK Policy in the News

OKC facing historic numbers for eviction filings as protections end: The state saw more than 65,000 eviction notices filed in court from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 through April 2022, with 37% of those – roughly 24,000 filings – in Oklahoma County alone according to Open Justice Oklahoma’s Court Tracker tool, examining statewide court filings. [Free Press OKC]

Together Oklahoma Community Meeting

  • Tuesday, Dec. 20 – Together Oklahoma Community Meeting for Muskogee, Okmulgee, Cherokee and Okfuskee Counties. 6:00 – 7:30 p.m, College of the Muscogee Nation in Okmulgee. In-person and online. Learn about policies and actions community members can take to ensure everyone in our state has access to good food and a better quality of life. We will hear from State Senator Roger Thompson and Hunger Free Oklahoma about some of the policies and problems both have been working on to address access to affordable food. More Information | Join the Meeting Online

Weekly What’s That

Tax Expenditure Report

Under a provision of Oklahoma law passed in 1996, the Oklahoma Tax Commission is tasked with preparing a biannual report that provides the Commission’s “best estimate of the amount of state revenue that would have been collected but for the existence of each exclusion, deduction, credit, exemption, deferral, or other preferential tax treatment allowed by law for the previous fiscal year.” The report is organized by tax type and provides estimates of lost revenue based upon information from actual tax returns and secondary data sources. The most recent Tax Expenditure Report was released in October 2022; the next one is due October 2024.

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

Quote of the Week

“We already have 19,400 Oklahoma City residents in need of housing. Today’s evicted person is tomorrow’s contribution to our homelessness crisis.”

– Ward 2 City Councilperson James Cooper, speaking on the eviction crisis in Oklahoma [Oklahoma City Free Press]

Editorial of the Week

Editorial: Higher insured rates for children will mean better health outcomes

Unfortunately in Oklahoma, it’s easy to point out the shortcomings of our government when it comes to children- and family-friendly policies; however, one bright spot was highlighted last week.

Oklahoma experienced the biggest improvement in child uninsured rates during the pandemic period of 2019-20, a national analysis found. While the number of uninsured children dropped nationally, Oklahoma’s rate dropped the most. Overall the rate declined 1.2% from 8.6% to 7.4%.

This is particularly good news for Oklahoma since our state used to have one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country. Both children and parents benefited from federal pandemic-related protection that ensured Medicaid coverage must remain in place while the federal COVID-19 public health emergency continues.

Additionally, children and families were helped immensely when the state implemented Medicaid expansion in 2021 with rapid enrollment of parents and other adults.

The national report praised our state for the good job it did in enrolling a lot of people quickly. As parents became eligible for Medicaid coverage, their families learned their children were already eligible.

Research shows that having Medicaid coverage as a child helps in long-term health outcomes. They also have better educational outcomes and higher high school graduation rates. Childhood Medicaid participants also have better health as adults, pay more in taxes and use fewer public benefits as they get older.

It’s estimated that there are still 75,000 uninsured children in the state; however, 4,800 of those are now eligible. There is also concern that when the federal continuous coverage requirements comes to an end in spring 2023, there’s a good likelihood that Oklahomans will either lose coverage because they’re ineligible or lose coverage because they’ve failed to meet an administrative requirement.

Legislators need to look at protecting these insurance gains by implementing continued eligibility for children, which would allow youth insured by Medicaid to have 12 months of continuous coverage regardless of small income fluctuations or administrative requirements.

Again, every positive outcome we want in Oklahoma begins with raising healthy and resilient children. If we can keep these kids insured for as long as possible, we have a better chance of achieving better health outcomes later on.

[Editorial / Enid News & Eagle]

From OK Policy: New report shows Oklahoma led nation in improving health insurance coverage, but more than 75,000 Oklahoma children remain uninsured

Numbers of the Day

  • 3,914 – Number of emergency certifications in Oklahoma during the 2021-22 school year, which was the largest number on record. [Oklahoma State Department of Education]
  • 699,612 – Number of Oklahoma children enrolled in SoonerCare, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, in October 2022, compared to about 520,000 in January 2020.  [Oklahoma Health Care Authority]
  • $91 million – Amount that localities in Oklahoma collected from fines and fees in 2019. [Tax Policy Center]
  • 45% – Percentage of lower-income working parents say they would be extremely or very worried about losing pay if they needed to take time off to care for their child. [Pew Research]

What We’re Reading

  • The pandemic has exacerbated a long-standing national shortage of teachers: What this report finds: The pandemic exacerbated a preexisting and long-standing shortage of teachers. The shortage is particularly acute for certain subject areas and in some geographic locations. It is especially severe in schools with high shares of students of color or students from low-income families. The shortage is not a function of an inadequate number of qualified teachers in the U.S. economy. Simply, there are too few qualified teachers willing to work at current compensation levels given the increasingly stressful environment facing teachers. [Economic Policy Institute]
  • Lesson from Pandemic: Medicaid Continuous Coverage Works!: This year’s annual report on child health coverage is out after a hiatus last year due to the lack of available Census data. We’re happy to report some good news. The rate of uninsured children declined from 2019 to 2021 from 5.7% to 5.4% — a bright spot for children during the dark days of the pandemic. The decline occurred largely due to a federal law that provided states with additional Medicaid funding to ensure that children, parents and others enrolled in Medicaid had stable coverage during the COVID-19 public health emergency. [Georgetown University Health Policy Institute]
  • Assessments and Surcharges: A 50-State Survey of Supplemental Fees: For decades, states have used justice fees to raise revenue, which are now imposed throughout the criminal legal system. But there is a particularly pernicious category of fees imposed by the courts on people simply because they are involved with the justice system. [Fines and Fees Justice Center]
  • One-in-four U.S. parents say they’ve struggled to afford food or housing in the past year: Amid soaring inflation rates and signs that the economy is approaching a recession, one-in-four U.S. parents say there have been times in the past year when they could not afford food their family needed or to pay their rent or mortgage. A similar share (24%) say they have struggled to pay for health care their family needed, and 20% of those who needed child care say they haven’t always had enough money to pay for it, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. [Pew Research]


Hana Saad joined OK Policy in August 2022 as the Communications and Operations Fellow. She graduated from the University of Tulsa with degrees in Media Studies and English and is part of Phi Beta Kappa, an academic honor society. At TU, Hana regularly wrote for The Collegian and was the Co-Editor of the Stylus Journal of Art and Writing. She also serves on the team at Puppy Haven Rescue to help in their mission of saving rescue dogs across Oklahoma. Hana is eager to learn more about public policy in Oklahoma and use her skills to support the OKP work to build a more equitable state. In her free time, she loves to read fiction and poetry, walk her dog, and make copious cups of tea.

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