The Weekly Wonk: Save tax credits for working families, the fat is in the fire, 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, Policy Analyst and Oklahoma Assets Network coordinator DeVon Douglass described in a video why proposals to eliminate or reduce the state’s tax credits for working families would be a bad move for Oklahoma families and seniors. Policy Director Gene Perry wrote that SB1604 would devastate the Earned Income Tax Credit, which provides a critical boost to the financial security of low-income workers. One hundred and fifty clergy from Oklahoma have signed a letter urging lawmakers to protect broad-based tax credits, including the EITC. In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt argued that legislators shouldn’t require families with the leanest household budgets to fix the state’s revenue problems. Learn more about these tax credits and take action here.

Policy Analyst Carly Putnam wrote that DHS cuts mean that protections for vulnerable seniors, children, and Oklahomans with disabilities are crumbling around us. Putnam also shared a fact sheet on how the Medicaid Rebalancing Act is essential to stabilize and strengthen Oklahoma’s health care system. Research Fellow Alexandra Bonhannon described a bill that could close the wage gap in Oklahoma, as well as the State Chamber’s opposition to it. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update pointed out that some legislators are learning for the first time how state agency budget cuts hurt their constituents

OK Policy in the News

A number of news outlets covered OK Policy and Oklahoma Assets Network’s press conference featuring Oklahoma religious leaders and nonprofits asking lawmakers to protect broad-based tax credits for working families, including the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit. These outlets included the Tulsa World, NewsOK, the Red Dirt Report, KWGS, News9, and the Associated Press (here via the Hastings Tribune).

The Oklahoma Observer’s Arnold Hamilton cited OK Policy data in a Journal Record column advocating for lawmakers to protect vital public services while building a budget.  State Rep. Ben Loring (D-Miami) cited an analogy often used by Blatt in describing this year’s income tax cut. Blatt spoke to FOX25 about the state House’s annual baseball game. NewsOK quoted Blatt in a discussion of a proposed cigarette tax increase, and State Sen. J.J. Dossett used OK Policy data discussing the same topic in the Skiatook Journal.

The blog okeducationtruths used OK Policy data in a post describing the state’s dire circumstances and urging legislators to make wise budget choices. Covering Google’s announcement that it would no longer carry advertising for payday loan companies, NewsOK used a quote from Blatt from a 2005 article on payday loans


Join Douglass and Outreach Specialist Kara Joy McKee for a webinar this afternoon (05/15) at 3pm to discuss why taking tax credits from working families isn’t the way to balance the budget, and to learn about good ideas to save our state from total budget catastrophe. Click here at 3pm today to participate. You can also dial in using your phone to participate at +1 (224) 501-3412, access code 832-581-237.  Participation is capped at 100 people, but if you’re not able to be there, we’ll have video available next week.

If you missed last week’s webinar, you can view it here. Join Together Oklahoma’s campaign to tell lawmakers that we can’t cut our way to prosperity, and need to protect core services and raise revenues. Join #DoSomethingOK here.

Let’s Fix This Part 2: It’s Not Fixed Yet

On Wednesday, May 18, join “regular folks who care” at the Capitol at 8:30am for a second rally to urge legislators to fix the state budget crisis. Learn more and RSVP here.

Calling all college students!

We’re accepting applications from undergrad and graduate students for our fourth Summer Policy Institute (SPI) through May 25! 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 their future studies and work in public policy-related fields. Learn more and apply here.

Weekly What’s That

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is a tax credit that subsidizes work for low-income families. More than 27 million households will receive a total of $60 billion in reduced taxes and refunds in 2015, according to the Tax Policy Center, making the EITC the nation’s largest cash or near cash assistance program after the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). In 2013, the credit lifted 6.2 million people out of poverty, including over 3 million children, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Read more.

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

Quote of the Week

“I have heard it said that in a crisis like this everybody should do their fair share — they should pay their fair share. But people who do not have a fair share in the first place cannot pay their fair share.”

– Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee, executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, encouraging legislators to protect broad-based tax credits for low-income Oklahoma families at a press conference on Wednesday. Tabbernee was one of 150 Oklahoma faith leaders who signed a letter urging lawmakers to protect the credits and “not to make decisions that increase poverty or further burden the poor.” (Source)

Editorial of the Week

David Johnson, Ronald Woodson, M.D., and Stephen Cagle, M.D.; NewsOK

Already the state has eliminated funding to community health centers that provide services to Oklahomans in need. These reductions will likely result in people getting delayed care and seeking services in hospitals when it is much more costly and in some cases far too late. This isn’t just a problem for the poor and uninsured in our state. As hospitals and nursing homes close or reduce services, other health care providers withdraw from those communities and local businesses, like pharmacies, are forced to make similar decisions. Entire communities are at risk, but we can avoid this fate by increasing the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack and investing in the health of Oklahomans.

Numbers of the Day

  • 24.7 days – How long Oklahoma could run on reserve funds in fiscal year 2015
  • 1,805 – Total number of elementary and secondary schools in Oklahoma in the 2013-2014 school year
  • 604 – Number of new patents filed in Oklahoma in 2013
  • 41,983 – Total number of elementary and secondary education teachers in Oklahoma in the 2013-2014 school year
  • 28.3% – Percentage of Oklahomans who reported not seeing a general doctor in the past 12 months (2014)

See previous Numbers of the Day and sources here.

What We’re Reading

  • The Rich Live Longer Everywhere. For the Poor, Geography Matters [New York Times]
  • Immigrants, the Poor and Minorities Gain Sharply Under Affordable Care Act [New York Times]
  • How attacks on government have made us less prosperous and more unequal [Oxfam America]
  • How Energy States Could Better Weather the Boom-and-Bust Cycle [Governing]
  • How tax falsehoods flourish [Washington Post]


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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