The Weekly Wonk: Lawmakers have many good options to fill the budget hole during 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

Policy Director Gene Perry reminded us that lawmakers have many good options to fill the budget hole during special session – but they will need to find the will to use them. In a Tulsa World editorial, Executive Director David Blatt implored lawmakers to take advantage of this second chance and fix a budget that was not meeting the needs of Oklahomans even before the court’s ruling. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update argued that the worst thing legislators could do is adjourn special session without raising revenue to address the structural budget deficit.

In his Journal Record column, Blatt lamented that more and more Oklahomans have had enough – discouraged by year after year of budget cuts, Oklahomans are chosing to leave the state to seek better opportunities elsewhere. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler walked us through the provisions of State Question 788, the medical marijuana ballot initiative that Oklahomans will vote on next year.

Advocacy Alert

As the legislature enters special session on Monday, they have many options to fix the state’s structural budget deficit. But 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

Legislative Referendum

legislative referendum is the mechanism by which the Oklahoma Legislature can submit a constitutional amendment or statutory change to a vote of the people. A legislatively-initiated ballot measure, or State Question, must take the form of a Senate or House Joint Resolution and be approved by a simple majority vote in both chambers. It does not require the Governor’s approval. Once received by the Secretary of State, each legislative referendum is designated a State Question number and a Legislative Referendum number. Copies are delivered to the Governor and State Election Board to issue the Election Proclamation and place the measure on the ballot for a vote of the people at the time of the next general election. The Attorney General has the responsibility to review the measure’s ballot title and may rewrite the ballot title if he determines that the title proposed in the legislation does not meet requirements. Read more here.

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

Quote of the Week

“Fallin has offered lawmakers a chance to fix two critical problems that have faced the state for years — inadequate permanent revenue to fund the state’s core services and critically inadequate funding of public schools. We urge Oklahoma lawmakers to take this opportunity to recognize the mistakes of the past and start the state down a better path. Nothing less than the state’s future is at risk.”

– The Tulsa World Editorial Board, urging lawmakers to address structural issues during the upcoming special legislative session (Source)

Editorial of the Week

William W. Savage III, NonDoc

A new poll commissioned by a group of longtime Oklahoma oil and gas executives says two-thirds of the voting public wants to eliminate the state’s low gross production tax (GPT) incentive rate. New oil and gas wells drilled (or spudded) in Oklahoma are taxed at a 2 percent rate for the first 36 months and a 7 percent rate thereafter. While the state’s largest petroleum companies and the influential trade associations they control oppose elimination of the incentive rate, the strong support indicated by the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance poll means the Oklahoma Legislature should take a vote on increasing the incentive rate during the special session set to begin Sept. 25. To do otherwise would be ignoring the desires of the people.

Numbers of the Day

  • 25.3% – Percentage of Oklahoma children under age 5 living in poverty in 2016
  • 33.9% – Percent of veterans in Oklahoma with a disability, 2011-2015. The rate for nonveterans was 17.6%
  • 13.3% – Oklahoma youth aged 16 to 24 who are neither in school or employed, 2015.
  • 1.9% – Oklahoma’s average annual growth rate for inflation-adjusted personal income over the past decade.
  • $24,849 – Average student loan debt of students graduating from four-year institutions in Oklahoma, 2015.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • Cassidy-Graham’s Waiver Authority Would Gut Protections for People with Pre-Existing Conditions [CBPP]
  • How Redlining’s Racist Effects Lasted for Decades [New York Times]
  • How States Can Help Curb Opioid Misuse [Pew Trusts]
  • How putting fewer people on probation and parole can reduce prison populations, save money and keep us safer [Marshall Project]
  • Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to Care: Has the Affordable Care Act Made a Difference? [The Commonwealth Fund]


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.