There seems to be some fantabulous thinking going within some elements of the local liberal community when it comes to taxes in Oklahoma.
— OK Democratic Party (@OkDemocrats) April 14, 2016
I’ll try not to stir up the liberal pot, again, like I did last week, but let’s be realistic, the GOP-dominated legislature is NOT going to substantially raise income taxes or, in essence, roll back the cuts dating back to 2004 anytime soon to fix the budget. There IS a slight possibility that the most recent 0.25 percent cut implemented starting in 2016 might get rolled back because of the efforts of state Sen. Mike Mazzei, a Tulsa Republican, but even that could eventually face a Gov. Mary Fallin veto or a court challenge. State budget writers would be wrong to count on the extra revenue until any legal action is decided, which could take weeks if not months.
Do we even want to restore all the income tax cuts that have been implemented since 2004, which has resulted in a severe state revenue decline? Lawmakers over the years have slashed income taxes from 6.65 percent in 2004 to 5 percent today. People here continue to elect these same type of lawmakers to office.
Wouldn’t it be better if we’re going to engage in fantabulous thinking to re-envision the overall income tax code and various brackets and sales taxes and credits and exemptions? Yes, of course. But that’s not going to happen either under a GOP-dominated government. It takes a three-fourths majority of legislators and the governor’s signature or a vote of the people to increase taxes. What’s more likely to happen is that the legislature and Fallin will cobble together a budget that falls short of providing more significant money to education and health care. Maybe education will get some more money but not enough for teacher raises or to make up for previous cuts.
— Tulsa World (@tulsaworld) April 17, 2016
A new poll out shows that Oklahomans supposedly want to prevent funding cuts by raising income taxes. But I believe the wording in the poll, conducted by the Global Strategy Group, led participants to that conclusion. The poll begins, for example, by mentioning the state’s $1.3 billion budget shortfall expected next fiscal year and possible cuts to education, health care and public safety. It doesn’t ask this question straight up: Are you in favor of raising income taxes in Oklahoma?
Here’s a list of some of the Global Strategy Group clients as listed on their web site: Democratic Attorneys General Association, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Governors Association, Democratic National Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the New York State Democratic Party and Planned Parenthood of NYC. I’m in favor of the vast majority of work done by all these groups, of course, especially Planned Parenthood. My only point is that GSG probably has a Democratic Party or liberal bias and perhaps this influenced the poll.
There’s really little point in quibbling about the poll because major income tax increases will not get passed this Oklahoma legislative session or make it on the November ballot. I’m unsure why some of the empowered liberal people here think that’s even a possibility while refusing to look at other ways to raise money for our underfunded schools and health care systems. We have an emergency funding crisis. It calls for an emergency response.
The political climate might be more conducive next legislative session for income tax increases if more progressive legislators are elected and because it won’t be an election year, but I would say that’s a very qualified “might.” Conservatives here have intentionally created a system that makes it almost impossible to raise taxes.
Conservatives broke Oklahoma through reckless fiscal policies, and now it’s the latest Kansas. Gov. Mary Fallin’s second budget plan proposal, which includes increases for education, is already meeting with opposition from her own party. Given this, how can anyone surmise we’re going to go back to a 6.65 percent income tax rate for some tax brackets?
I get it that a more progressive income tax structure that makes the wealthiest pay more is desperately needed in the state, and I get that State Question 779, which would raise the state sales tax by one penny to provide more funding for education, is a regressive tax. But the legislature could also later implement some type of education-tax rebate for lower income people. The state sales tax increase will also benefit the school children of many working-class parents.
Years ago, I argued for a surcharge on the wealthiest incomes here, another idea getting discussed in the local liberal community these days.Thomas Piketty’s 2013 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century makes a similar argument on a global level because of growing worldwide income equality, but that’s fantabulous thinking as well. It will take a real worldwide revolution to stop the folded lies of the world’s richest 1 percent. I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Liberals here right now in Oklahoma don’t have the votes. That’s the bottom line. Meanwhile, we’re drowning. Let’s do what we can. SQ 779, which will most likely be on the ballot, has a real shot to get approved by voters and would provide $615 million annually to our schools and colleges. It will raise teacher salaries by $5,000 as well.
There used to be this idea in this country, as I read recently, and even in Oklahoma that education was the key to just about everything, from economic development to superior medical access to maintaining democracy itself, but the conservative movement has demonized the entire notion of education as a cultural and basic human necessity and human right. This demonization is a sign of a civilization in major decline.
— OurChildrenOK (@OurChildrenOK) April 17, 2016