The state’s tax cut forces are already posturing and signifying their intentions several months away from next year’s legislative session.
Last week, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who leads a Republican-dominated state government, told the Wall Street Journal that her party would again push for an income tax reduction, a proposal that failed to pass the legislature last session.
According to StateImpact, Fallin would like to see at least a cut from 5.25 percent to 4.8 percent in the income tax. Such a cut, if not offset by raising other taxes or increasing other revenues, would devastate the budgets of state agencies and educational institutions, which have faced severe cuts in recent years.
It’s important to note that tax revenues remain significantly below what they were before the 2008 economic downturn. It’s simply unconscionable and irresponsible to cut taxes under these conditions unless there are replacement revenues or a specific plan that spells out the ensuing budget cuts. If the GOP wants to continue to layoff teachers and eliminate teaching positions in public schools to give rich people tax cuts, then that’s its prerogative as the party in power, but it shouldn’t hide behind the flimsy argument that a cut will attract more businesses to Oklahoma, making up for any lost revenue.
I know we’re several months away from the renewed tax-cut effort, but reporters and editors for local corporate media outlets should begin discussing how to cover the tax-cut plans that will undoubtedly emerge next session. Here are three areas to consider:
NewsOK.com recently published a story in which some state leaders called for more transparency and openness in the state’s budgeting process. Transparency is necessary in order for democracy to thrive, and, in terms of the Oklahoma budget process, the tax cut plan will be center stage next session. Nothing will probably be more critical next legislative session than knowing exactly the impact of any proposed income tax cut. That’s where state government transparency should begin in 2013.
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