The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers should listen to their constituents during this special session

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

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record Column encouraged legislators to listen to their constituents and restore the gross production tax to at least 5 percent as part of any budget deal during special session. OK Policy issued two statements this week about budget deals. On Monday, OK Policy argued that the Republican budget plan ignored obvious solutions to the state’s revenue crisis – that plan failed on Wednesday. On Thursday, OK Policy encouraged lawmakers to seriously consider a less-than-ideal compromise budget plan as, perhaps, the best possible outcome of this special session.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor for their story about the harmful effects of tax cuts and industry incentives on public services in Oklahoma.  The lack of a budget deal thus far in special session is not helping the crisis situation now being faced by some public service agencies. Blatt spoke with Public Radio Tulsa and Fox25 about the inadequacies of the Republican plan announced on Monday. And Blatt spoke with KTUL after that plan failed on Wednesday.

Policy Director Gene Perry criticized the cigarette-tax-only approach to addressing the budge hole in an interview with KTUL. And on a brighter note, Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison was quoted by the Oklahoman in their piece about signs of progress in occupational licensing reform.

Advocacy Alert

The legislature is still in special session and they still 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. You can also check out our Special Session FAQs for updated information about what’s happening during the special session.

Upcoming Opportunities

We’re excited to announce the release of a new book from Oklahoma Policy Institute! Neglected Oklahoma: Voices from the Margins is a collection of nineteen essays written for the OK Policy Blog over four years by Oklahoma City writer and social justice advocate Camille Landry. Join us for the OKC release party on Nov. 7th, 6:30 pm, at Full Circle Bookstore (RSVP here), or the Tulsa release party on Nov. 29th, 6:30 pm, at Bound for Glory Books (RSVP here). 

OU-Tulsa will host Bryan Samuels, Executive Director of Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, for a lecture about making child welfare systems more effective on November 7th at 6:00 pm.  For more information or to RSVP click here.

Weekly What’s That

Earned Income Tax Credit

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit that subsidizes work for low-income families. The amount of EITC depends on a family’s earnings and number of children; the maximum credit in 2015 was roughly $5,500 for a family with two children. Oklahoma is one of 26 states with a state EITC, set at 5 percent of the federal credit. The state EITC was claimed on 331,854 returns for $39.1 million in 2012, according to Oklahoma Tax Commission records. Though the federal EITC is refundable, Oklahoma’s EITC no longer is.  In 2016, the credit was made non-refundable. Read more here.

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

Quote of the Week

“We plead with our legislators to stop aligning your party affiliation and find a solution to the budget deficit. Compromise on both sides is a must. If we don’t act immediately, we will be killing Oklahomans on a daily basis because we are not providing them the necessary mental health treatment.”

– Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes, speaking on behalf of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police at a press conference with the Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. OKDMHSAS announced that it will severely cut outpatient services if lawmakers are not able to strike a budget deal (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Wayne Greene, Tulsa World

PolitiFact, the Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checking partner of the Tulsa World, recently judged a statement by two writers from the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs as “mostly false.” That judgment seems unfair to me on the basis that PolitiFact made it, although I would judge the OCPA writers’ conclusions to be ridiculous and misleading for different reasons. The “fact” in question — included in an Oct. 5 Tulsa World op/ed column, “State budget crisis? What budget crisis?” — is this: “The state is on track to spend more in this fiscal year — more than $17.9 billion — than at any time in state history.”

Numbers of the Day

  • 15th – Oklahoma’s rank for the rate of women killed by men in 2015, the first time the state has been outside the top ten since 2010.
  • 1,041 – How many fewer corrections staff employed by the state of Oklahoma in 2016 compared to 2009, a nearly 18 percent drop.
  • 49th – Oklahoma’s rank for percentage of income going to state and local taxes out of all 50 states and Washington DC (2014). Only Tennessee and Florida had lower taxes.
  • 20.52% – Turnover rate for Oklahoma state employees in FY 2016, a 40 percent increase from turnover rates in the previous decade.
  • $55,000 – Family income limit for students applying for full tuition college scholarships through the Oklahoma’s Promise program starting in 2017-18, the first increase since being set at $50,000 in 2000.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


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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