Kimberly Stassel recently wrote something for the Wall Street Journal that should resonate in Oklahoma too. She wrote, “When candidate Trump first referred to the swamp he was talking about the bog of Beltway lobbyists and establishment politicians. But President Trump’s first year in office has revealed that the real swamp is the unchecked power of those who actually run Washington: The two million members of the Federal Bureaucracy. That civil service corps was turbocharged by the Obama administration’s rule-making binge, and it now has more power and more media enablers than ever. We live in an administrative state run by left leaning, self-interested governing class that is actively hostile to any president with a deregulatory or reform agenda.”
Isn’t that pretty much what we also have with our state government too? We may not be left-leaning, but we don’t want anything to do with reforms.
Our state currently has a $200 million deficit in its budget, down from $800 million before new taxes and fees went into effect. One of the largest contributors to the deficit is Medicaid payments. I intend to cover that subject in depth at a later date. However, in 16 years Medicaid’s portion that the state pays has grown from $600 million to $2.4 billion.
Oklahoma must find ways of getting able-bodied citizens off this program. Perhaps keeping the benefit at the same time allowing persons to earn a salary? Gradually moving away from Medicaid while one earns more from a real job. The cost is unsustainable.
It would seem that Congress and the president dealt a huge tax blow to those living in high tax states. Tax legislation signed into law on December 22 caps the amount of state and local tax deductions to $10,000, which could reduce the tax benefits of homeownership.
We really stuck it to those living in Illinois, California, New York and Connecticut. But did we? Here is another fallacy that has been repeated often. Oklahoma is a low tax state. People in Texas pay way more in property taxes than do others since they have no state income taxes. Well, the Wall Street Journal just dispelled that untruth.
Most of us just paid our Tulsa property tax. Mine was over $7,000. Most of my tax goes to support our disastrous Tulsa Public Schools.
In looking at the Journal’s numbers, if I lived in Stanford, Connecticut, my median property tax would be $7,054. I pay more than they do. If I lived in San Jose, it would be $6,833 or New York, it would be $6,788 or San Francisco at $6,266. Austin, Texas, with no state income tax, is $5,464.
The rightful question is what do Tulsans get for our high taxes? We get a failing public school system and the ability to pay for half of Oklahoma’s failing school districts. The way this game works is we have 515 school districts when we only need a fraction of them. When the governor proposed that all school districts keep 60 percent of their budgets in the classroom, when the numbers were run only 11 districts met the new proposed standard.
Under the school formula if a county raises their property tax as Tulsa County does every year then they receive less state aid. So why raise property taxes when Oklahoma City and Tulsa residents will cover for you?
And it goes on. Don’t think our administrators will support reforms any more than those bureaucrats who live in the swamp.