The Weekly Wonk: Nothing to celebrate in the GOP tax plan

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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This Week from OK Policy

Executive Director David Blatt’s Journal Record column says there is nothing to celebrate in the GOP tax bill that seems likely to pass – it’s bad for the middle class, the deficit, and those who use federal services from student loans to public assistance programs. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update kicks of the 2018 legislative process in Oklahoma – the deadline to request the drafting of a bill has come and other deadlines will soon follow. A guest post by Senator Ron Sharp (R-Shawnee) argues that “non-instructional” spending in common education is not waste – pay for counselors, custodians, librarians, and bus drivers is classified as non-instructional, but these individuals are important pieces of the educational system.

Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler worried that rural jails could be left behind as Oklahoma and Tulsa counties begin large-scale projects to study and address their problems. Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison argued that not requiring employers to provide paid sick leave for workers is costly mistake.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke to Politico about the political dynamics in Oklahoma surrounding the Tar Creek Superfund site. Policy Director Gene Perry was interviewed by Ozy for a piece about the economic impact of immigrants in the Oklahoma panhandle. OK Policy data was used by the Tahlequah Daily Press in their analysis of the GOP tax plan.

Weekly What’s That

Revenue Estimates/Revenue Certification

Oklahoma makes official revenue estimates that determine how much the Legislature is allowed to appropriate in its annual budget for state agencies. The Legislature is limited to appropriating no more than 95 percent of certified collections. Revenue estimates are certified three times each year. To find out when, click here.

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

Quote of the Week

“Any loss of service in rural Oklahoma will likely be lost forever.”

–  Nico Gomez, Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers President and former Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO, following Friday’s OHCA board vote approving rate cuts to SoonerCare providers and nursing homes (Source)


Editorial of the Week

Arnold Hamilton, Journal Record

The evidence is clear that most tax dollars are being stretched to the max. Remember GOP demands for an independent audit of the state Corrections Department? The Legislature spent about $750,000 to learn the DOC was a lean, mean, fighting machine – certainly more efficient than private prison operations. How would you feel if you’re a state employee this holiday season? Most haven’t had a raise in a decade. Many are juggling double and triple the normal workload because of layoffs and unfilled positions.

Numbers of the Day

  • 3,560 – Number of Oklahoma families receiving early learning home visiting services in 2016, down from 9,156 in 2011
  • 45% – Percentage of school-age children in the Idabel Public Schools district living in poverty, the highest percentage of all districts in Oklahoma.
  • $3.2 billion – Value of production of cattle and calves in Oklahoma in 2015
  • 5,500 – Acres of watermelons planted in Oklahoma in 2015
  • $68,291 – Median household income of Canadian County, Oklahoma in 2016, the highest in the state. The lowest was Choctaw County with a median income of $32,458.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • If you tax the rich, they won’t leave: US data contradicts millionaires’ threats [The Guardian]
  • Bronx Charity Founder Wants to Pay Bail for Poor Defendants Nationwide [New York Times]
  • How Washington Winks at Violent Discipline of Special Needs Kids [Politico]
  • Without Obamacare Mandate, ‘You Open the Floodgates’ for Skimpy Health Plans [NY Times]
  • The Never-Ending Foreclosure [The Atlantic]


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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