Throw Us a Lifeline

I almost choked on my oatmeal this morning when I read in the Tulsa World that Gov. Fallin was patting herself on the back for providing tax breaks that would give Oklahoma families more money in their pockets. Well, thanks for the $30. I would rather let the state keep my money if they would spend it on the services that government is supposed to provide such as roads and schools. Instead, our policy makers would rather give tax breaks to oil companies (that would drill whether they got a break or not) and millionaires than improve mental health services, heath and education for Oklahoma families. I believe most parents would give up their tax cut to have properly funded public education. And, the thing is, we’ll be paying for those cuts somewhere – anyone noticed higher fees for drivers’ licenses? What about higher tuition and fees at state colleges and universities? For most of us parents, saving money on state college tuition would put MUCH more money back in our pockets than the few dollars’ savings we’re getting in tax cuts.

Oklahoma Policy Institute Executive Director David Blatt released a statement responding to Oklahoma’s latest revenue estimates that under current law will trigger the tax cut in 2016 that Gov. Fallin was referring to. Here’s Blatt’s statement:

It is supremely irresponsible to move forward with an income tax cut that will do little to nothing for most Oklahoma families at the same time as we face a nearly $300 million budget shortfall for next year. Under this tax cut, 41 percent of Oklahomans will not see any tax reduction, and the average tax cut for middle-income families will be just $30.

Between repeated tax cuts and ballooning tax breaks for businesses, Oklahoma has gutted services crucial for a good education system, public safety, and a strong economy. With the collapse of gas prices and a continuing drought threatening two of our state’s major industries, now is exactly the wrong time to increase the size of our budget hole with a tax giveaway that will go mostly to the already wealthy.

Going forward, Oklahoma urgently needs to review and rein in unnecessary tax breaks, and lawmakers needs to develop a more honest and transparent budget that funds core services by finding responsible revenue options, not one-time revenues and budget gimmicks.

I agree with Blatt that this income tax cut is “irresponsible.” I know it sounds great to tell families that they’re going to have more money in their pockets, as Gov. Fallin did, but if you actually look beyond the rhetoric to what that means for most of us, we lose and so do our children.

Categories: Editor’s Blog