The Weekly Wonk: New OK Policy budget report examines past successes and current struggles, Save Our State releases budget blueprint, 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.

This Week from OK Policy

OK Policy released a new budget report that examines our past successes and evaluates how we’re building on those, or falling behind. Executive Executive Director David Blatt was a guest on the latest episode of STANDcast from Stand for Children, where the discussion focused on the new budget blueprint from the Save Our State Coalition, and authored a blog post regarding the importance of restoring the Gross Production Tax to its historic rate. Blatt also was a guest on Public Radio Tulsa for a discussion of the Save Our State Coalition’s budget blueprint.

Blatt’s Journal Record column implored legislators to fix the budget crises with responsible revenue solutions, instead of more cuts to state agencies. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update wonders if Oklahoma is, at last, breaking free from anti-tax dogma. Policy Director Gene Perry was quoted by the Huffington Post in a story about the use of state lotteries to fund education

Upcoming Opportunities

We are currently 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.

New Text Alerts

At OK Policy, we try to provide the information you need when it matters most for our state. We share key facts and advocacy alerts through e-mail, social media, and website updates throughout the week. Now we’re excited to offer another way for you to get informed when it’s important to take action right away. You can sign up to get text message alerts to your mobile phone.

We’ve broken up our alerts into several lists to give you control over what you receive. To join one or more lists, simply text the keyword to 51555:

  • Text OKPOLICY to 51555 to receive all of our updates.
  • Text OKBUDGET to 51555 to receive budget and tax updates.
  • Text OKECON to 51555 to receive economic opportunity updates.
  • Text OKHEALTH to 51555 to receive health care updates.
  • Text OKJUSTICE to 51555 to receive criminal justice updates.

Weekly What’s That

Joint Conference on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB)

The Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB) is a committee governed by separate rules from most legislative committees. It is typically used as a way for House and Senate leadership to introduce and approve new bills in the final weeks of the legislative session. The committee, which is co-chaired by the Chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, is not subject to the regular legislative deadlines adopted by the Legislature.

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

Quote of the Week

“I knocked on 3,500 door steps during the campaign, I didn’t have one person say, ‘go up there and change the gun laws.’ Those conversations weren’t happening. It was constantly over and over and over again: fix the budget, help diversify our economy, and fix education.”

– Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee) (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Editorial Writers, Tulsa World

Last year, part of the Legislature’s solution to a $1.3 billion budget hole was a $200 million bond issue for transportation projects. Those projects should have been paid for with tax revenue, but there wasn’t enough of that to go around. We offered tepid support for the idea as a one-time solution to an enormous problem, so long as it was approved by a vote of the people. It was never offered to the people, a breach of faith with the spirit of the state Constitution. Now, the one-time solution seems to be turning into a habit. We don’t bite this time. Bond issues are a valid means of financing long-term projects when the state is working from a position of fiscal strength. When they’re used to kick the can down the road and avoid dealing with financial weaknesses, they’re dangerous.

Numbers of the Day

  • 7.2 – Average annual rate of fatalities for Oklahoma law enforcement officers per 50,000 officers, 2008-2012, sixth highest in the nation
  • 52% – Percentage of Oklahoma children who get their health coverage through SoonerCare, the state’s Medicaid program
  • 10,169 – Motor vehicle thefts in Oklahoma in 2015
  • 74.7% – Employment rate for prime working age Oklahomans in 2016, down from 77.0% in 2007 and 7th lowest in the U.S.
  • 0.3% – Effective state corporate income tax rate paid by Devon Energy in from 2008-2015. Over that period, the company made $21.76 billion in profits but paid only $71 million in corporate income taxes, more than $1.2 billion less than if the company paid Oklahoma’s official corporate income tax rate of 6% 

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • What We Get Wrong When We Talk About Food Stamps And Immigrants [Huffington Post]
  • Conservatives’ Goal To Relax Mandatory Health Benefits Unlikely To Tame Premiums [Kaiser Health News]
  • People don’t like paying taxes. That’s because they don’t understand them [Washington Post]
  • Federal Pressure Could Spur More ‘Lunch Shaming’ Bans [Governing]
  • What if the problem of poverty is that it’s profitable to other people? [The Guardian]


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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