(Be sure to watch the highlights of an April 5th forum on the proposed income tax cut plans in the above video.)
The reasons for Republicans to drop plans for any type of income tax cut this legislative session continue to mount.
Parents and educators in the Tulsa area, for example, have begun an effort to convince state leaders to restore school funding to 2007-2008 levels because of recent devastating budget cuts and not implement a new tax cut. The Tulsa School District, for example, is in the process of eliminating 150 positions because of budget cuts.
A rally has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the field house at Edison Preparatory School, 2906 E. 41st St. in Tulsa.
Is the GOP, including Gov. May Fallin, paying attention to the political ramifications of this grassroots movement opposed to a new income tax cut?
Meanwhile, Democratic leader state Sen. Sean Burrage of Claremore and Democratic Senate Caucus leader Tom Ivester of Sayre have made powerful statements opposing tax cuts.
Here’s what Burrage had to say in a media release:
Oklahoma does not have enough revenues to even begin to meet critical needs in education, health, public safety, transportation and other services our citizens depend upon. House Bill 3038 will further erode those resources. We’re 48th in the nation in the health of our citizens. If this becomes law, we’ll soon be 50th. We’re close to last when it comes to teacher pay and per pupil spending. We’ll soon be dead last in those categories, too. Supporters claim we’re going to see businesses and people flock to Oklahoma if we end the income tax. When they see Oklahoma’s schools, roads and bridges, and our public health all ranked last in the nation, this will be the last place in the nation they’ll want to come.
Here’s what Ivester had to say in the same media release:
The State Capitol building is crumbling around us. We don’t know how we’re going to pay for the DHS reforms that are supposed to prevent more Oklahoma children from dying in state custody. We have yet to restore funding cuts in education and other critical areas in the wake of the national recession. No one promoting the elimination of one-third of the state’s revenue is addressing these issues, except with vague claims that this will bring in more jobs, more taxpayers and that will take care of it. These are empty political promises that will leave thousands of Oklahomans without vital services and many more with a lower quality of life.
Again, do Republicans stand to lose politically if they go ahead with a tax cut given these rational arguments?
Let me add another reason, though it may be a bit of a wildcard. The Occupy Wall Street Movement has begun to focus on exorbitant student loan debt of college students. Some politicians have floated ideas that would forgive some, if not all of this debt. (I favor this effort.) The forgiveness most likely would need to be accompanied by reasonable tuition rates, which could pressure state governments, including Oklahoma, to provide more financial support for universities and colleges.
How can Oklahoma do so with drastic cuts in state revenues?
Of course, the opposition cited in this post to an income tax cut in Oklahoma this year represents a tiny fraction of recent developments or ideas. The Oklahoma Policy Institute has the state’s most comprehensive information of why an income tax cut would hurt the state. Different plans for some type of income tax cut, including the eventual elimination of the income tax entirely, are now under consideration in the legislature.