Efforts by liberal Republicans in the Oklahoma Senate to delay or kill a minor cut in state income tax rates have failed.
The Senate is peppered with Republican senators who tell voters they are fiscally conservative but when push comes to shove, they bow to the wishes of the chamber of commerce, the education union and the liberal media and kill good legislation.
Oklahoma’s economic development is hampered by a 5 percent state income tax. Texas has no such tax and neither do states like Wyoming and Florida. Lawmakers have been taking years to whittle down that rate so that someday it could be zero. And instead of less revenue, the cuts have preceded growth in actual income by the state.
When you increase taxes, business people look for ways to avoid them. They move their businesses out of the state. Some even cheat on their filings. Black markets increase.
Oklahoma is in a budget crunch, not because of tax cuts but because the international oil market has driven the price of oil below $30 a barrel. This is a great opportunity to re-evaluate how tax money is spent and to adjust funding to genuine priorities.
For example, schools should lower their administrative costs and boost teacher salaries.
Thank goodness Gov. Mary Fallin is not falling for the trap by the bought-and-paid for senators. She understands that Oklahomans – especially the poor – need tax breaks.
In January, the tax fell from 5.25 percent to 5 percent – a move that will cost a maximum of $100 million in a budget of more than $7,000,000,000.00.
Devon Energy, one of the biggest employers in Oklahoma, just laid off a thousand workers (700 in Oklahoma City alone).
The senators pushing for an end to tax cuts need to ask those laid off employees if they want to pay higher taxes.