NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
Last week media sources announced the governor and legislative leadership had reached an agreement on a cut in the state income tax starting in 2015. Please contact your representative, senator, President Pro Tem Bingman, and Speaker Shannon to oppose HB 2032, the current version of the amended House bill cutting the state income tax. Any cut in the state tax revenue at this time is a bad idea for the following reasons:
1. The myth, embraced by the Governor, Speaker Shannon, President Pro Tem Bingman, and most Republicans in the House and Senate, that tax revenues will grow as a result of cutting taxes has been debunked many times by respected economists. Just because tax revenue increases after a tax cut is not evidence of a causative relationship. Many other factors contribute to tax revenue. At a panel of economists last summer one exclaimed, “Tax cuts lose revenue. The research has shown this a thousand times. Enough already.”
2. Oklahoma still has a long way to go before state services recover from the recession that began in late 2008. Oklahoma schools are functioning with $200 million less while dealing with 32,000 additional students.
Several of my teacher friends have announced their retirement. They have reached their limit of dealing with more students, more difficult students, less support, less resources and no pay increases. This tax cut when fully implemented will take another $237 million from schools and other core government services.
3. The Department of Corrections is severely understaffed leaving guards outnumbered 160:1 by inmates on some shifts. The legislature continue their “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” mentality. Promising moves last session to implement progressive measures in the treatment of prisoners have largely been scuttled this year. A destructive prison riot is almost certainly in our future.
4. The opportunity to expand Medicaid and provide health insurance for more than 100,000 more Oklahomans was scuttled by a coalition of ignorant and ill-informed House and Senate leaders and a Governor who utterly failed to lead on this issue. We can afford to do this, and we need to find the funds. It’s the right thing to do. A tax cut is completely the wrong approach.