You can’t tax your way to prosperity

The late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said that “you cannot tax your way into prosperity. It’s like a man standing in a bucket trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

I wish there was some understanding of this basic principle by some of our politicians here in Oklahoma. The latest proposal from our executive branch is to add sales tax to over a 160 services here in the state to fill a nearly billion-dollar shortfall once again. Ironically these shortfalls are not just part of low oil and gas prices but also partly due to the same poor forecasting and cost cutting measures that were done 3-4 years ago when crude oil was at $100 a barrel.

We should have learned from our “boom and busts.”

In 2016, expenditures were at $6.8 billion but just a few years ago spending was at $7.2 billion.

Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?

Why can’t we fill budget funding level holes?

Why?

Oklahoma still has a spending problem. We never budget within our means. Taking money from hard-working Oklahoma taxpayers is not the answer.

We need to stop the giveaways. Specifically the “off the top” money that comes out of revenue immediately before even the first dollar is spent. The majority goes to unnecessary tax credits, rebates and incentives that have no return on investment (ROI). This practice makes up more than half of our state expenditures.

In the end, all raising taxes ever does is destroy work incentives and make people more reliant on government. It is a financial fact that productivity declines as the tax rates increase. This revenue raising measure is a horrible idea and has no place in fiscal conservative principles.

We need to reform our recurring revenue sources here at the Capitol and stop the “corporate welfare.” Whenever possible, we need to identify and eliminate waste. A hand up was never meant to be a hand out.

Ronald Reagan said, “The best way you control government spending is keep them out of your back pocket.”

I’m concerned that so many have forgotten our basic GOP platform or never knew it in the first place and what we neglect now, we will have to pay the consequences for later.

Taxing Oklahomans is not good policy. Let’s stabilize our revenue sources for the future of all Oklahomans.

Top 30 Sales Tax Exemptions by Amount

4,289,000,000.00 Sales for resale
1,967,822,000.00 Sales to manufacturers
132,617,000.00 Utilities for residential use
129,086,000.00 Subdivisions or agencies of the state
123,928,000.00 Drugs
117,783,000.00 Agricultural sales
103,774,000.00 State of Oklahoma
65,365,000.00 Livestock purchased out of state
58,291,000.00 Commercial airlines and railroads
46,869,000.00 Sales of certain types of advertising
38,618,000.00 Federal food stamp program
28,054,000.00 Disabled veterans (100 percent)
21,956,000.00 Tuition and educational fees
14,664,000.00 Water, sewage and refuse services
12,023,000.00 Drugs and medical devices
10,516,000.00 Newspapers and periodicals
7,419,000.00 Sales by schools
7,299,000.00 Sales tax holiday
7,177,000.00 Rural electric cooperatives
6,787,000.00 School cafeterias
6,135,000.00 Churches
5,172,000.00 Machinery used in manufacturing
4,023,000.00 Fraternal, religious, civic, charitable or educational societies
3,406,000.00 Private education institutions
2,425,000.00 Aircraft repair and modifications
2,246,000.00 Tickets to NBA/NHL games
1,907,000.00 Enhanced recovery methods
1,320,000.00 Horses
1,150,000.00 Out-of-state tax credit
721,000.00 Admission to professional sporting events
$7,034,535,000.00 Top 10 total
$7,189,048,000.00 Top 20 total
$7,217,553,000.00 Top 30 total

Note: Residential utilities are taxable by cities and towns. On the sales tax holiday, cities and towns are compensated by the state.