The Weekly Wonk: Legislature votes to repeal tax cut trigger, All of the Above on revenue options, Oklahoma should expand OK Promise scholarships, 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.

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We know that especially this time of year, thousands of Oklahomans like you count on OK Policy to help make sense of fast-moving developments at the State Capitol. We hope that you recognize the value of the information we provide through the Weekly Wonk and all our other resources. Please choose to support our commitment to better information and better policy by making a tax-deductible contribution today. Click here to donate online or send a check to Oklahoma Policy Institute, 907. S. Detroit, Suite 1005, Tulsa, OK 74120.

This Week from OK Policy

OK Policy issued a statement applauding the Legislature’s final passage of SB 170, a bill to repeal an automatic income tax cut trigger. Executive Director David Blatt argued that it is time for legislators of both parties to say ‘All of the Above’ to revenue options on the table as they work to resolve the state budget crisis – this theme was reinforced in his Journal Record column. Policy Director Gene Perry pointed out that those opposing the cap on itemized deductions overstated their claims that the measure would significantly reduce charitable giving.

Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison contended that expanding eligibility for Oklahoma’s Promise scholarships would benefit all Oklahomans. Intern Preston Brasch argued that reforms are needed to protect Oklahoma renters from unsafe living conditions. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update suggests that crafting a budget deal that can survive the legislature and earn Governor Fallin’s approval will be a test of leadership for Speaker McCall.

Advocacy Alert

With only a few days left to negotiate a budget agreement, now’s the time legislators need to hear from you. They especially need to hear your support for ending tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and restoring the historical 7 percent tax rate on all gross production so that we can avoid devastating cuts and make critical investments in our workforce, infrastructure, and health.  Call your Senator at 405-524-0126 and your House member at 405-521-2711. You can look up contact info for your legislators here. See our advocacy alert on ending the special subsidy for oil and gas drilling for more information and resources.

OK Policy in the News

OK Policy’s work in opposing HB 1913 was acknowledged in a Tulsa World editorial lauding Governor Fallin’s veto of the bill. The Tulsa World also used OK Policy research for their editorial about the harm that may come if the American Health Care Act becomes federal law. Tulsa Teacher of the Year Elizabeth Steinocher referred to OK Policy data in her editorial calling for an increase in education funding

Perry was quoted in a Bloomberg BNA piece about Oklahoma’s move to decouple our standard deduction from the federal standard deduction. Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator KaraJoy McKee was interviewed by CNHI for their coverage of the Save Our State Coalition’s budget blueprint proposal.

Upcoming Opportunities

The deadline is coming up! We are accepting applications for our fifth annual Summer Policy Institute (SPI). SPI brings together dozens of undergraduate and graduate students from across the state for a three and a half-day intensive policy training. The application deadline is May 26, 2017. Click here to learn more and apply.

Weekly What’s That

Corporate Income Tax

Oklahoma’s corporate income tax is set at a flat rate of 6 percent of taxable income. The tax is based on a three-part formula that looks at the portions of a company’s sales, property and payroll that is based in Oklahoma. The corporate income tax has generated a declining share of total tax revenue over time as more businesses incorporate as S-Corps and LLCs (which report their income on the personal income tax return of shareholders) and as companies find ways to take advantage of loopholes and tax breaks to limit their corporate tax liability. Read more here.

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

Quote of the Week

“The repeal of this tax cut is a milestone. After years of promises that income tax cuts would pay for themselves, a majority of lawmakers have finally begun to recognize the cost. We cannot afford more tax cuts that have drained resources from our communities without paying off in economic growth.”

-From OK Policy’s statement on the passage of SB 170, which repealed an income tax trigger (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Gary Ridley, Tulsa World

As we consider our future as Oklahomans, we must bear in mind that our state and this nation is differentiated from a Third World country largely by our time-tested form of government and the level of services it provides. It is not by accident that fundamental government involvement is inherent in public education, the health and well-being of the population, public safety and in constructing and maintaining public infrastructure. As our society and culture has evolved, so have the demands and mandates we, as voters and taxpayers, have created for our government. Very simply, our government is a direct reflection of us and we are judged by the outside world by how we are able to conduct the people’s business.

Numbers of the Day

  • 793 – Number of Oklahoma Highway Patrol officers in 2017, down from 825 in 1990
  • 10.5% – Percentage of Oklahomans who spent a night in a hospital in the past year, 2015.
  • 44% – Percentage of seniors in Oklahoma kept out of poverty by government programs in 2014
  • $157.7 million – Oklahoma’s revenue loss due to itemized income tax deductions compared to if everyone took the standard deduction.
  • 31% – Percentage of Oklahoma’s non-elderly population with a preexisting condition that could leave them uninsurable in the individual market if the Affordable Care Act’s protections are repealed.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • The Opioid Epidemic Is Actually Two Epidemics [BuzzFeed News]
  • Medicaid Work Requirements: Who’s At Risk? [Health Affairs]
  • Fighting Child Poverty With a Universal Child Allowance [American Prospect]
  • Raising the Gas Tax Is No Longer Taboo In Many States [Governing]
  • Bipartisan Support of Public Goods Made America Great [CityLab]


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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