As our state's newly inaugurated legislative session continues, there's been no shortage of bills that've attracted attention from the national media -- for less than favorable reasons -- including bills that would ban "hoodies" or AP History classes, or those that would allow Oklahoma businesses to discriminate against their gay customers or else end civil marriages altogether. What we have not seen -- not yet, anyway -- is a responsible discussion of how to fill a $611 million shortfall in next year's 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.
While the debate in Washington, amid these dreaded days of "sequestration," is about whether to increase revenues or cut spending --- or somehow achieve a compromise that does both --- here in Oklahoma, the state legislature is (once again) looking to reduce tax revenues. This comes despite the fact that our state currently has a number of extremely pressing needs vis a vis education, DHS, corrections, and infrastructure --- as well as, of course, the long-term and likewise urgent problem of pension liabilities.
On this installment of StudioTulsa, we speak by phone with Matthew Yglesias, one of the nation's most widely-read political bloggers and columnists. Yglesias is a business and economics correspondent for Slate in Washington, DC, where he writes the Moneybox blog. He was previously a fellow at the Center for American Progress, an associate editor at The Atlantic, and a staff writer for the American Prospect.
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?