Byron's 1889 Publications
Funeral Director and Embalmer Licensure in Oklahoma with Baylee Butler briefly describes licensing of the funeral and embalming industry in Oklahoma. It finds no public interest justification for such licensing and recommends that the licensing statute be allowed to expire on its sunset date in 2020, if not repealed sooner.
Public Education Spending In a Historical Context shows that since 1920, inflation-adjusted per-student spending in public education nationally has increased by a factor of 16 times, the pupil/teacher ratio has halved, and inflation-adjusted teacher pay has increased by a factor of 5 times. Oklahoma exhibits a similar pattern.
Saving Money: School District Consolidation vs. Breaking Up Big Districts demonstrates that it is far more realistic to believe that dividing large Oklahoma school districts into smaller ones will save substantial amounts of money than will school district consolidation.
Teacher Pay: Things to Consider and Do with Baylee Butler looks at the costs of increasing Oklahoma's average teacher pay and how different raises will affect Oklahoma's position compared to other states. It recommends that if the state funds a teacher pay raise, that it be done through block-granting with transparency regarding who gets raises. Finally, it points out that districts have sufficient resources to provide for substantial raises.
Teacher Pay: Facts to Consider with Baylee Butler breaks down facts about Oklahoma's average teacher salary, considers how benefits might change generally-accepted teacher pay comparisons across states, cost of living, and inflation adjustments. Historical comparisons are also made, along with a discussion of facts regarding comparisons with other professions so that information on the issue is as full and accurate as possible.
Critique of the Incentive Evaluation Commission's Tax Incentive Evaluation Report: 2016 looks at the first report of Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission (IEC) and finds it wanting. The IEC was created to review Oklahoma's many tax incentives for industry over a period of years. In their first round of recommendations, they suggest repealing only four of eleven reviewed incentives. The Institute suggests repealing nine. Apparently, the IEC is more interested in the status quo than real reform, having made unique recommendations with only $3 million in financial impact. Therefore, the IEC should be abolished. Summary
Barbering and Cosmetology Licensure in Oklahoma describes the state of cosmetology and barbering licensing in the state. It recommends that the licensing statute in this area be allowed to expire July 1, 2017 according to its sunset date.
Rising Above Mere Politics: General Principles for Spending Taxpayers' Money argues that state budget writers should follow five basic principles when budgeting, to follow the state's mission, make sure all taxpayers benefit from expenditures, and spend only where necessary. In addition, they must recognize that pursuing federal funding can often be counterproductive and that, too often, spending reflects the victory of political symbolism over the substance of actual accomplishment.
Policy Maker's Guide to Evaluating Proposed and Existing Occupational Licensing Laws with Vance H. Fried describes only two conditions under which occupational licensing would be proper - real, high risk of physical harm and some type of civil-law or market failure. It recommends private certification as an alternative to licensing and recommends that licensing education requirements be eliminated (relying on exams and experience only) and licensing boards be reformed.
A Truly Universal Education Savings Account Proposal, Including Fiscal Implications with Vance H. Fried proposes a $4,500 ESA for every school-age child in Oklahoma that parents can supplement. It recommends specifics of what purchases are allowable under an ESA. It discusses how the program would be funded, how it would be administered, and academic accountability. Summary
Oklahoma's Teacher Supply: Shortage or Surplus? with Baylee Butler reviews the evidence for a teacher shortage in the state and finds it wanting. At worst, the state has a shortage trivial in size. It might even have a surplus. Summary
The Need to Review and Reform Occupational Licensing in Oklahoma reviews occupational licensing and makes recommendations on how to review Oklahoma's current licensing laws suggesting regulatory alternatives. Summary
Tax Increment Finance and Suggestions for Reform is a critical look at TIFs in Oklahoma. It points out that TIFs burden businesses not located in TIFs and all taxpayers statewide when TIFs access school property taxes. Recommendations for reform include greater transparency, stricter limits on use of TIF funds, and greater state oversight. Summary
Oklahoma’s Teacher Pay: 30th, Not 48th compares average teacher pay and average beginning teacher for each state, adjusting each state's average for cost of living. Oklahoma's average teacher pay ranks 30th among the states and Oklahoma's beginning teacher pay ranks 19th.
Oklahoma is a Medium, Not Low, Tax & Spending State demonstrates that when state and local taxes and spending in Oklahoma are compared to the same in other states as a percentage of GDP, Oklahoma ranks surprisingly high in tax and spending metrics.
Medicaid Expansion: Bad Policy by Any Name critiques a plan put forth by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority that effectively expands Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.
Wind Energy Tax Credits - Oklahoma provides a half-cent per kilowatt hour income tax credit for wind generation. This represents a subsidy to the wind energy industry and is very costly given the need to double-up on electrical generation capacity.
Designing an Education Savings Account 2016 with Vance H. Fried, provides a comprehensive framework for an Oklahoma ESA program - an update of an earlier publication. Summary
Certificates of Need: An Oklahoma CON that Needs Repealing with Per Bylund and Vance H. Fried, provides a brief history Certificates of Need (CON) in the U.S., Oklahoma's two CON laws, their economic effects, and recommends their repeal. Summary
Oklahoma's Billion-Dollar Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust briefly describes the fund, sources of funding, its uses, and whether it can be put to alternative uses.
A Primer for Understanding Oklahoma's School Funding System describes Oklahoma's common school formula funding in detail, providing many insights. In addition, an overview of the state's public education funding is provided. Summary
Byron Schlomach is Director of the 1889 Institute. He has researched and written broadly in public policy in areas as diverse as economic development, transportation, public education, welfare, health care, government finance and transparency, regulation and licensing. He has been published in numerous newspapers in Texas, Arizona, and Oklahoma. He has made many media appearances on radio and TV during his career.
Byron most recently served as the Director of the Center for Economic Prosperity at the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. Prior to that, he was the Chief Economist for the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin, authoring many studies at both think tanks. He has served as legislative aide and chief of staff to a Texas legislator and as a researcher for the Texas Comptroller where he aided in preparing fiscal notes and recommendations for the state's Texas Performance Review.
Schlomach holds a B.S. and Ph.D. in economics from Texas A&M University. He is the father of a daughter and two sons and resides in the Oklahoma City metro area with his wife, youngest son, and two cats.