On The Armadillo Highway

Image of Armadillo

(I’m taking a day off today. Here’s some excerpts from recent posts. I will resume my regular posting schedule on Tuesday. Thanks for reading.—Kurt Hochenauer)

The idea of a roundabout is just one component of a vision, shared by many people, to create a beautiful boulevard and entryway lined with shops and restaurants that could help revive a particular section of Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City and the state have an opportunity here to create something remarkable. The decision on the boulevard will affect the city for several decades. The ideas of a roundabout and a thriving boulevard, one highly compatible with public transit and the streetcar project, should be moved forward as serious plans by both the city and state.

In A Roundabout Way, June 12, 2012

I’ve find it somewhat appropriate that the effects of global warming are becoming obvious in Oklahoma, a state that has repeatedly elected a U.S. Senator who claims climate-change science is a vast, conspiratorial hoax.

The temperatures keep going up here, the state is even in the national spotlight about it and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s fight against science and rationality seems punier than ever.

Recently, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), determined through a recalculation that Oklahoma, not Texas, actually had the hottest summer ever recorded last year with an average temperature of 86.9 degrees. The month of July, 2011 was the hottest month ever recorded at 89.3 degrees.

Oklahoma’s Hottest Record, June 3, 2012

The tax-cut meltdown shows it’s obvious that Republicans are not unified at the state Capitol. That’s probably saying it too nicely. Fiscal conservatives, such as Steele, who are concerned about core services and education, are up against starve-the-beast social conservatives and the staffers at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), who agitate for a more slash and burn policy when it comes to government spending. It was OCPA that pushed the draconian Laffer plan, which was supposedly based on the ideas of Arthur Laffer, a former economic advisor to the late President Ronal Reagan. In the end, responsible Republicans knew that the Laffer plan was ludicrous, disingenuous and would have damaged the state for years to come. Watch for more clashes between the OCPA and Republicans next year, especially if President Barack Obama is reelected and the Obama-hysteria continues here.

The Oklahoma Tax Cut Massacre, May 27, 2012

My first take on the state income tax cut agreement between Gov. Mary Fallin and some Republican legislators is this: It’s an awful plan that primarily benefits the wealthy as it reduces available money for education and other core state services. Legislators should reject it.

In addition, it appears some Oklahomans will actually pay more in taxes under the plan. How does a supposed vaunted tax cut actually raise taxes? It’s a contradiction the GOP and probably many rich Oklahomans don’t want anyone to point out too loudly.

The plan would reduce the top income tax rate from 5.25 to 4.8 percent. It eliminates the personal $1,000 exemption for taxpayers making more than $35,000 a year ($70,000 for a couple) and their dependents and includes a trigger to drop the top rate to 4.5 percent in 2015 if revenues increase by 5 percent the previous year.

Again, this is my first take on the agreement, but the numbers don’t add up. It’s simple math on a calculator. By losing the personal exemption some people are going to pay more because the actual tax “cut” doesn’t make up for it. How can you even call this a tax cut and get away with it?

Tax Increase Proposal, May 20, 2012