David Blatt

The 2018 Session of the Oklahoma State Legislature recently adjourned, and what a session it was. For the first time since State Question 640 passed in 1992, the Legislature was able to raise revenues by green-lighting an increase in the Gross Production Tax rate as well as increases in fuel and cigarette taxes (with all of these increases passing the 75% threshold, as required by the State Constitution).

On this installment of StudioTulsa, with the Oklahoma State Legislature set to begin its new session on Monday of next week, we check in with David Blatt, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute. This non-profit public-policy think tank recently posted a detailed list of legislative priorities for the new year at its website. Blatt reviews several of these goals with us today: from Budget and Taxes to Economic Opportunity and Security, and from Education and Criminal Justice to Health Care.

Last week's Oklahoma Supreme Court decision invalidating the State Legislature's cigarette cessation fee means that there's now a $214 million budget deficit in this year's budget. This gives Oklahoma lawmakers two options: go back into special session to fix the state budget, or else three state agencies -- the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services -- will have to rewrite their budgets to account for a roughly $70 million cut to each agency. So, what will state lawmakers do?

What's to be done regarding the troubling condition of Oklahoma's budget? Lawmakers in OKC have only about a month left to address this serious budget shortfall in the 2017 session of the Oklahoma Legislature, and fixing what Gov. Fallin has recently called "the state's structural budget deficit" seems less and less likely. Therefore, about two dozen nonprofit and professional organizations from across the state have formed the so-called Save Our State Coalition. Our guest is David Blatt, executive director of the OK Policy Institute, which is a member of this coalition.

The "penny sales tax" for education didn't pass, but voters here in the Sooner State did back criminal justice reform; the "Right to Farm" State Question was rejected, yet Republicans won big all over Oklahoma on Election Day, as, indeed, they did nationwide. On this edition of StudioTulsa, we are joined by David Blatt of the OK Policy Institute, an non-partisan, non-profit think tank.

As 2016 gets underway, the most vexing question confronting Oklahoma legislators, policymakers, and various state agency heads is...how will the Sooner State solve the glaring budget hole that Oklahomans will face this year -- and next year. State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger has declared a "revenue failure" for this year, resulting in a 3% cut to all state budgets funded by General Revenue -- and the preliminary projection of revenue for next year sees a shortfall of $900 million out of an approximately $7 billion state budget.

The Oklahoma Legislature will convene for this year's session on Monday, February 3rd, at noon. Which issues, both greater and lesser, will our state's lawmakers be focused on throughout 2014? We explore that multi-faceted question on this edition of StudioTulsa; our guest is David Blatt, executive director of the OK Policy Institute, which is "a non-partisan independent policy think-tank" you can learn more about here.

Our guest on this edition of ST is Peter Fisher, research director at the Iowa Policy Project, who co-wrote a recently published paper, "A Well-Educated Workforce Is Key to State Prosperity," for the Economic Analysis and Research Network.

On this installment of ST, we are discussing Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's recent decision not to join the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The second regular session of the 53rd Oklahoma Legislature (2011-2012) was recently adjourned. (The state legislature will convene for its first regular session of the 54th Oklahoma Legislature [2013-2014] on January 8th, 2013.) With the session now over, many citizens are wondering why the legislature DIDN'T adopt a tax-cut plan. Wasn't this the oft-repeated aim of the GOP-controlled House, Senate, and Governor's Mansion?