Texas is ranked No. 1 nationally as a business-friendly state vs. 23rd for Oklahoma in CNBC’s 2012 report (in conjunction with the National Association of Manufacturers). But Oklahoma trounces Texas in the “cost of business” category, which includes all personal and business taxes, ranking fourth vs. Texas’ 28th. We get crushed in transportation (Texas is first vs. Oklahoma’s 37th), technology and innovation (second vs. 32nd), and education (26th vs. 37th).
Cutting taxes is only going to exacerbate chronic underfunding of roads, education, and universities while threatening funding for the mentally ill, protecting at-risk children and seniors and the disabled. Unhealthy workers, poor schools, low numbers of college graduates and bad roads are horrendous economic development tools.
Oklahoma state taxes as a percent of personal income have plunged dramatically since 1982, from 7.3 to 5.2 percent.
State and local per capita spending fell to dead last nationally in 2005, and thanks to then-Gov. Brad Henry’s foolish tax cut, revenues are $350 million below the 2007 level. We would have to increase spending $6.6 billion to match the national per capita average, and only dreadful Arkansas has lower regional spending.
Fallin wants to make our tax system “flatter and fairer,” a great idea given that the bottom 20 percent pay an effective state and local rate of 10.3 percent vs. 4.6 percent for the top 1 percent. The poor contribute disproportionately to the high cost of doctors’ education and college degrees (worth an estimated $1 million) for 25 percent of the population. But fair to Republicans always means the poor paying more and the rich paying less.
—D.W. Tiffee, Norman