The Norman Transcript

Breaking News

Opinion

May 18, 2013

Tax cuts help wealthy and harm schools

NORMAN — Perhaps it’s old news by now, but I hope the controversy will live on.

The governor and Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature recently agreed to reduce the state’s personal income tax from 5.25 percent to 5.0 percent in 2015. This tax cut will take about $237 million from state schools and other vital state services.

For a variety of reasons this action is irresponsible, unnecessary, and regressive. The main beneficiaries will be the state’s well-off taxpayers. About two thirds of the tax reductions will go to the wealthiest 20 percent of Oklahomans. The vast majority of the state’s poorest taxpayers will receive nothing. Middle income families could expect only about $40 a year in cuts.

Others, including Norman’s Superintendent of Schools, have pointed out how harmful any tax cuts will be to Oklahoma’s public schools. Over the past five years, enrollment has increased as state formula funding has declined. Between 2008 and 2012, reductions in state spending per student for common schools in Oklahoma was the fourth largest in the nation.

And here’s the startling fact. These tax cuts were not supported by public opinion. Almost every poll shows that people like tax cuts in theory, but when they understand the potential consequences, many change their mind.

A recent poll by The Global Strategy Group shows that 52 percent of Oklahoma voters favored the income tax cuts in the abstract. But, when told that over 40 percent of Oklahomans would receive no tax cut at all, about 60 percent were opposed. Even a plurality of Republicans opposed cuts after learning how much this action favored the wealthiest taxpayers.

A majority of voters (56 percent) also opposed the plan when told that “Oklahoma will collect $125 million less in tax revenues to fund state services, such as education, public safety, and health care.”

When voters really understand what happens when tax cuts disproportionately benefit the rich and might harm vital state services, most folks respond rationally. Why don’t elected officials grasp this fact?

David Morgan, of Norman, is a retired professor of political science.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Reform is necessary

    Editor, The Transcript: Last year, the legislature passed laws reforming the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs, which was a good start, but more is needed. Recent media reports have revealed that the ODVA employs M.D. and D.O. ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Keep your brain cells

    Editor, The Transcript: Hey kids. Four centuries ago, Shakespeare wrote about life’s seven great adventures. I forget his exact words, but they were something like this: 1. Our birth; none of us can remember it, but never the less, it is ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Don’t let moderation confuse you

    Jeb Bush’s recent compassionate comments on immigration show how far apart he is from the far right of the Republican Party....

    April 20, 2014

  • Priest’s execution should spur action

    In the hierarchy of saints, martyrs are on the highest rung of the celestial ladder, at least for me....

    April 20, 2014

  • Settlers found opportunities in red dirt fields

    There are few constants in families where the teenagers and soon-to-be teenagers outnumber their parents. One things holds true at my home: Nobody gets out of bed in the morning before dear old Dad....

    April 20, 2014

  • Necessary services may be reduced

    Editor, The Transcript: There were criticisms of the Oklahoma Senate bill for a test project to privatize management of Medicaid; however, no one mentioned a critical issue of reduced services for the more needy of our society....

    April 20, 2014

  • Enforcement not the issue

    Editor, The Transcript: The government is legally right in the U.S. Government vs. Bundy Ranch matter....

    April 20, 2014

  • Family thanks community, takes issue with photo

    Editor, The Transcript: As I write this, it’s been almost eight weeks since Feb. 17, the day my family’s home burned in a fire. We lost our 15-year-old cat, Misti; 7-year-old dog, Sully; 3-year-old rescue squirrel, Rocky; almost 2-year-old ...

    April 20, 2014

  • Dancing forward

    The official motto for Mike Fowler’s chairmanship of the Norman Chamber of Commerce is “Moving Norman Forward.” But after Thursday night’s annual banquet, the sub-theme should be, “Let’s Dance, Norman.” More than 500 chamber members and ...

    April 19, 2014

  • NRA members need to step up

    Please, Mr. Bloomberg, leave the checkbook open, but step away from the podium. Your efforts to curb gun violence and improve safety are notable. The National Rifle Association thanks you....

    April 19, 2014