The Weekly Wonk: Revenue options; rules out the window; dangerous corrections cuts; & 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, OK Policy issued a statement on the legislature’s votes to end the “double deduction” and slash the Earned Income Tax Credit, and suggested a reasonable solution to the tobacco tax standoff. Executive Director David Blatt outlined revenue options that could avert a budget catastrophe. If the Legislature goes into special session, needed revenue-raising options can still be considered. David’s Journal Record column warned that the state Legislature’s habit of throwing its rules out the window in the last weeks of session is dangerous. If you missed Friday afternoon’s budget update webinar with David, Gene, and Kara Joy, slides are available here, audio is available here, and video is available here.

Policy Analyst Ryan Gentzler explained that the effects of budget cuts on state prisons are hidden but still dangerous. In a guest post, Dr. Mitch Randall of NorthHaven Church in Norman argued that budget cuts put an unbalanced burden on places of worship. Policy Analyst Carly Putnam wrote that proposed federal legislation could yank free school meals from more than 50,000 Oklahoma students.

OK Policy in the News

A Reuters exposé on the connection between low taxes on oil and gas production and education cuts and an American Prospect article on the battle over wind tax credits both used OK Policy data. We’ve previously written that even in the energy bust, Oklahoma’s oil and gas tax breaks exceed $400 million per year. Salon cited OK Policy while discussing the possibility that the state would accept federal funds to extend health coverage to the low-income uninsured. Blatt spoke to KFOR about tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. Woodward Public Schools Superintendent Kyle Reynolds quoted OK Policy data while explaining education funding issues in an event covered by the Woodword News. 


The legislature has less than a week to build and pass a sustainable state budget. It’s time to tell your legislators what is and isn’t on the table. Here’s how:  Insist they a) stabilize Oklahoma’s health care system by raising the cigarette tax and expanding Insure Oklahoma, and b) roll back tax cuts! Contact the two legislators who represent you, and have your friends do so too. We have to #DoSomethingOK! Find out more and join the fight at

Let’s Fix This: For the Kids

On Thursday, May 26th, groups of students and parents from across the state will be meeting at Douglas High School at 9:00am to march to the Capitol, with a planed arrival of 10:00am. They will gather inside with other stakeholders to visit with legislators and encourage them that it is not too late to do something for education funding. Click here to learn more and RSVP on Facebook.

Attention, procrastinating college students!

This is the last week to apply for our Summer Policy Institute! SPI brings together highly-qualified college students from across the state from July 31 to August 3 for a great opportunity to become better-informed about vital Oklahoma policy issues, network with fellow students and leaders in the policy process, and prepare for future studies and work in public policy-related fields. Students who graduated in December or May of the 2015-2016 school year are eligible to apply. No student who applies and is accepted will be turned away due to an inability to pay! Learn more and apply here.

Weekly What’s That

General appropriations

The General Appropriations (GA) bill is an annual bill approved by the legislature that funds the ongoing operations of state agencies for the next budget year. The GA bill has two features that distinguish it from other legislation: (1) It does not need an emergency clause to become effective July 1. (2) It may include funding for multiple government functions and agencies. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“This whole gathering is to show that just because we are considered children does not mean that our education isn’t valued to us, and it should be valued to everybody else. This is our education, this is everybody’s future.”

– Cassidy Coffey, a junior at U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City, who organized a student walkout to protest budget cuts to Oklahoma schools (Source)

Editorial of the Week

Arnold Hamilton, The Journal Record

Legislative leaders have no one but themselves to blame for the blood pressure-spiking brinkmanship at the Capitol this week. It’s not as if they suddenly became aware in the session’s final hours that they either had to raise revenue to patch a $1.3 billion budget hole or impose further draconian cuts in state services. Like students who wait to start a major project until the night before it’s due, budget writers fiddled behind closed doors for three months – finally dribbling out revenue-generating proposals just three weeks before the May 27 deadline.

Numbers of the Day

  • 1.85 million people – Total state labor force in Oklahoma in 2013.
  • 2,525 per 100,000 – 2014 jail incarceration rate for residents age 15-64 in Jefferson County, OK, the highest in Oklahoma and more than 5 times higher than the state average.
  • 34.4% – Percentage of adults 18 and over involved in social, civic, sports, and religious groups in Oklahoma, below the national average of 39.8%.
  • 256 – Number of school sites in Oklahoma offering Advanced Placement (AP) courses in 2014
  • 45th – Oklahoma’s 2015 Bicycle Friendly State Ranking, down from 42nd in 2014.

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading


Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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