The Weekly Wonk: New online budget simulator, Vacancies may make it easier to increase revenue, budget concerns may be holding up CJ reform, 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 debuted a new online budget simulator this week – the simulator allows people to put themselves in lawmakers shoes and decide how to fix the state budget. Policy Director Gene Perry informed us about one promising solution – itemized deduction reform – that Oklahoma could consider. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update points out that current vacancies in the state legislature could make it easier to gather the 75% needed to pass new revenue bills. Policy Analyst Ryan Gentlzer argued that concerns about the budget may be holding up desperately needed criminal justice reforms at the state capitol.

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column argues that HB 1270, the Restore Hope, Opportunity and Prosperity for Everyone (HOPE) Act is the most misleadingly named bill this session.  Policy Analyst Carly Putnam tells explains why HB 1270 won’t save the state money and will create additional hurdles for low-income families trying to access the benefits they need.

OK Policy in the News

OK Policy’s recent Budget Briefing Breakfast was the topic of  a recent Non-Doc piece about possible solutions to our state budget crisis. Perry was interviewed by The Economist for a story about how cities are coping with broken state budgets. Blatt was quoted in an Oklahoma Watch piece about HB 1913, the predatory small loan bill that was recently vetoed by Governor Fallin.

Upcoming Opportunities

The deadline is less than a month away! 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.

Advocacy Alert

Oklahoma’s longstanding tax rate on oil and gas drilling is 7 percent, but a special tax break gives the industry a 2 percent rate for the first 3 years of any new well. Tax breaks on oil and gas are projected to cost the state over $500 million in lost revenue next year – that’s about half the state’s budget shortfall. To save our state, everyone must contribute their fair share. Contact your legislator today and urge them to end oil and gas giveaways and restore the historical 7 percent tax rate for oil and gas. Call your House member at 405-521-2711 and your Senator at 405-524-0126. See the full advocacy alert here for more information.

Weekly What’s That

Engrossed Bill

A bill that passes out of one chamber is engrossed, and then sent to the other chamber. If the bill passes the second chamber but not in its final form (e.g. it has been amended or has had its title or enacting clause stricken), it will again be engrossed. Read more here.

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

Quote of the Week

“We weren’t joking when we put out the 14.5 (percent cut) scenarios. So far … we’ve brought in $50 million. Our budget hole is $1 billion. … We will close regional colleges. … We will never get more dollars into the per pupil formula. We will never have a teacher pay raise. We will lay off 25 percent of our (Highway Patrol) troopers.”

-Rep. Leslie Osborn, on the need to find new revenue sources to fill the budget gap (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Jeff Berrong, The Oklahoman

It has been 25 years since Oklahoma voters approved State Question 640 to amend the state constitution to require either a majority vote of the people in a general election or a three-fourths vote of both legislative chambers to approve any tax increase. Because it’s nearly impossible to get three-fourths of the Legislature to agree on anything controversial, it is time to repeal SQ 640 to give our duly elected government the necessary flexibility to help solve our state’s long-term revenue problems.

Numbers of the Day

  • 56,757 – Number of misdemeanor cases filed in Oklahoma district courts in FY 2016
  • 22.2% – Percentage of Oklahomans in families where out-of-pocket spending on health care, including premiums, accounted for more than 10 percent of annual income
  • 16.8% – Percentage of reported nonviolent crimes in Oklahoma for which a person was arrested in 2015
  • 47% – Percentage of opioid overdose deaths in Oklahoma in 2015 that were female, the 4th highest in the US
  • 5,429 – Number of victim protective orders filed in Oklahoma district courts in FY 2016

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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