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
The legislature returned to the Capitol on Monday and it’s been a busy week at OK Policy! If you’re looking to follow along this session, we released our 2018 Legislative Primer this week to help with that. We also issued statements on Governor Fallin’s State of the State address and the changes to the Step Up Coalition Plan that were announced this week. The plan now includes a restoration of the EITC – Strategy & Communications Director Gene Perry explained why that’s a good thing.
Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update pointed out that the legislature’s first task will be cleaning up last year’s budget mess. Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column reminded us that budget cuts made in previous years had real consequences – especially for public education.
Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison told us about Oklahoma’s rank in a new economic well-being scorecard released this week – we’re 40th and that’s not good. A guest post by RoseAnn Duplan, Wanda Felty, and Erin Taylor (advocates for parents of children with developmental disabilities) argued against proposed changes to the leadership structure of state health agencies.
OK Policy in the News
Blatt sat down to chat with Public Radio Tulsa about the new legislative session, and spoke with the Tulsa World about changes to the income tax code proposed by the Step Up plan. Outreach & Legislative Director Bailey Perkins talked with The Oklahoman about the budget challenges that are still on the table as the legislature returns for regular session.
Weekly What’s That
State Questions are measures to change Oklahoma laws or the state constitution that appear on the ballot for all voters. They can be added to the ballot by the Legislature or by a petition from citizens. The number of signatures required on a petition is tied to the total number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Constitutional amendments require signatures equaling at least 15 percent of votes cast, statute changes require 8 percent of this vote, and veto referendums require 5 percent.
Quote of the Week
“The time to act is now. No more delaying. No more putting things off. No more kicking the can down the road. No more addressing long-term budget problems with short-term solutions. We can do this, and we must do this now.”
– Gov. Mary Fallin, using her final State of the State address to call for raising new revenues to pay for priorities including a teacher pay raise (Source)
Editorial of the Week
We won’t sugar coat things. The state of our state is bad. The members of the Oklahoma Legislature were sent to Oklahoma City to solve problems, and we’ve got plenty. Get to work.
Numbers of the Day
- 65.6% – Percentage of all people charged with a felony in Tulsa County in 2008 who have since had an arrest warrant placed on them for failing to pay fines and fees.
- 567 – Number of Black or African-American owned firms with paid employees in Oklahoma, less than 1 percent of all firms in the state.
- 16% – Percentage of bills and joint resolutions introduced in Oklahoma’s 2017 legislative session that became law.
- 18 – Number of Oklahoma legislators who are term-limited in 2018 (12 House members and 6 Senators)
- 12,156 – Number of woman-owned firms with paid employees in Oklahoma, about 17.6 percent of all firms in the state.
What We’re Reading
- How I Stopped Being Ashamed Of My EBT Card [BuzzFeed]
- The U.S. Can No Longer Hide From Its Deep Poverty Problem [New York Times]
- Bank of America is the latest company to ban this dreaded job-interview question [Washington Post]
- Immigration Crackdown Raises Fears of Seeking Health Care [Roll Call]
- What Happens to People Who Fail Work Requirements? [Governing]