The Weekly Wonk is a summary of Oklahoma Policy Institute’s events, publications, blog posts, and coverage. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.
Headwater Economics in conjunction with the Oklahoma Policy Institute released a report which showed that Oklahoma’s taxes on oil and gas production are among the nation’s lowest, and they would remain relatively low even if the state eliminated tax breaks for horizontal drilling. StateImpact Oklahoma highlighted the report in an article in which it featured OK Policy Director David Blatt explaining the sever consequences of these continued tax breaks. The Tulsa World also highlighted the report.
The OK Policy blog discussed how civil asset forfeitures have allowed Oklahoma police and private contractors to seize citizens’ property without due process. We also examined the role of intergenerational transfers in perpetuating Oklahoma’s racial wealth gap.
Lastly, we highlighted a bipartisan, national push that is growing against mandatory minimum sentences. Oklahoma still has at least 122 mandatory minimums on the books and even relatively minor offenses can mean years-long sentences. This week in Blatt’s Journal Record column, he discussed how a hit new TV series is drawing attention to over-incarceration.
- 1.5 percent – The average annual drop in Oklahoma’s violent crime rate between 2007 and 2011, compared to a 5 percent annual dip nationally
- 75 percent – The percentage of Oklahoma restaurant servers and fast food workers who earn a family income at or below the poverty level and have no health insurance
- $2.7 million – Amount deposited this fiscal year (FY 2014) into the state’s ‘rainy day fund’, officially Oklahoma’s Constitutional Reserve Fund
- 53 percent – The percentage of Oklahoma adults who are affiliated with the Evangelical Protestant tradition of Christianity, compared to just 26 percent nationally
- 122 – The number of mandatory minimum sentences on the books in Oklahoma – including altering or covering the serial number on a motor (1 year) and stealing a hog (3 years)
- In today’s Policy Note, a Bloomberg columnist explained why tort reform hasn’t worked to reduce health care costs, but large lawsuits have worked to make health care safer.
- Demos explained why there isn’t a clear trade-off between work and welfare anymore — many full-time workers find themselves with near-poverty incomes.
- The Economic Policy Institute discussed what speakers at 1963 March on Washington said about defeating poverty.
- Salon reported on how the National Restaurant Association has become a powerful lobbying force against living wages and employee sick days.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau published a student loan repayment toolkit on ‘Public Service Loan Forgiveness’ – available to eligible workers at nonprofits and federal, state, or local governments.