The Weekly Wonk: Oil and gas subsidies, confronting an unequal justice system, a new podcast, 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

This week, we relaunched the OK PolicyCast in an episode where Gene Perry and KJ McKee discussed all of Governor Fallin’s revenue ideas and other ideas Oklahoma Policy Institute has put forward to fix our state’s budget hole.

On the blog, David Blatt wrote about a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities showing that tax cut triggers are anything but fiscally responsible. He also wrote about how Oklahoma’s wind subsidies are dwarfed by subsidies to the oil and gas industry. Ryan Gentzler challenged lawmakers to confront racial disparities head-on as they reform the justice system. We featured a guest post from Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller showing that across core services, Oklahoma underspends, and Steve Lewis discussed why Governor Fallin’s budget shows how bad Oklahoma’s fiscal health has gotten.

In his Journal Record column, David Blatt checked out the state of the debate on how to get the budget back into balance. We shared advocacy alerts with ways for citizens to take action to halt the next tax cut, to strengthen working family tax credits, to curb predatory lending, and to stop excessive court fees. We participated in a press conference in support of bills that would rein in predatory lending. Over at Together Oklahoma, KJ McKee shared ways to take action while staying sane.

OK Policy in the News

The Oklahoma City Free Press covered our press conference on predatory lending reform. The Ada News cited OK Policy’s work in calling for an end to the cost trap of wasteful criminal fines and fees. The Stillwater News Press reported OK Policy’s analysis of what services are being taxed in most our our surrounding states but not in Oklahoma, in light of Governor Fallin’s new proposal to tax all services. You can see our blog post from last year about this issue here.

Weekly What’s That

Legislative Service Bureau

The Oklahoma Legislative Service Bureau (LSB) is a nonpartisan legislative service agency serving the members and staff of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Senate.  The LSB is responsible for producing all computer and information processing services for members and staff of the Oklahoma Legislature. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“When you say it’s a national problem, it only proves our point. Our teachers are going to Texas and Arkansas and Kansas because they’ve got shortages, too. To me, when the politician stands up and says this is a national problem, my response is, ‘well duh, why do you think our teachers are going to other states for?’”

-Jason James, superintendent of Alex Public Schools, speaking about teacher shortages in Oklahoma and other states (Source).


Numbers of the Day

  • 12% – Percentage of Oklahoma children who are first-generation immigrants or have at least one parent who is foreign-born. Of these children, 87% are US citizens.
  • $460.5 million – Estimated cost of tax breaks and rebates Oklahoma is giving to the oil and gas industry in FY 2017.
  • -10.3% – Percent change in hospital readmission rates among Oklahoma Medicare beneficiaries (2010-2015)
  • 0 – How much federal funding has increased for Oklahoma TANF since the welfare program was turned into a block grant in 1996. Since that year, the funding has lost about a third of its value due to inflation.
  • 6% – Percent of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections budget spent on probation and parole, despite having 45% of offenders in these categories.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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