The Oklahoma Policy Institute (OK Policy), which describes itself as “a non-partisan independent policy think-tank,” will be hosting a summit in Oklahoma City on Jan. 29 about the condition of the state and federal budgets. The title of the summit is “Mind the Gap: Sensible Budget Policy in Challenging Times.
The first part of the summit will focus on state budget matters. OK Policy notes that there is a growing gap between state revenues and the costs of services. David Blatt, Executive Director of OK Policy, will be the first speaker. He will give an overview of Oklahoma’s tax and budget systems and discuss reasons for “the fiscal gap stemming from policy decisions, demographic trends, economic changes and other factors.”
The next part of the summit will be a panel discussion about the economic development of Oklahoma. The panelists are Shelley Cadamy, Executive Director of Workforce Tulsa; Dr. Micky Hepner, Dean of the College of Business at the University of Central Oklahoma; Chuck Hoskin, Jr., Secretary of State for the Cherokee Nation and Dr. Dan Rickman, Regents Professor of Economics and Oklahoma Gas and Electric Services Chair in Regional Economic Analysis at Oklahoma State University. The panel will discuss trends in Oklahoma that include both positive developments like low unemployment and high personal income growth and negative things like a relatively high poverty rate, low educational attainment and low funding for state services when compared to pre-recession levels.
After lunch, E. J. Dionne will give the keynote address. Dionne is a progressive columnist for the Washington Post and a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. His address will focus on the federal budget. Specifically, he will talk about the budget under divided and polarized government.
The final part of the summit will focus on reforming Oklahoma’s special-interest tax breaks. OK Policy notes that “putting in place formal mechanisms to evaluate tax breaks and limiting or eliminating those that cannot be justified remains a priority for key legislators and statewide officeholders.” There will be both a presentation and a panel. The presentation will be given by Jeff Chapman and Parry Carter, who focus on state fiscal policy and economic growth at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The panelists will be Rep. David Dank, chair of the Oklahoma House Revenue and Tax Subcommittee; Rep. Scott Inman, Oklahoma House Minority Leader; Hon. Gary Jones, Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector; John Estus, Director of Public Affairs for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, a state government agency and Mark VanLandingham, Vice-President for Government Relations at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
The summit will be held at the Will Rogers Theater in Oklahoma City. Admission cost is $60, but scholarships are available. To purchase tickets or request a scholarship, go to okpolicy.org