There seems to be some fantabulous thinking going within some elements of the local liberal community when it comes to taxes in Oklahoma.
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.
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?
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