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Miracle on 23rd Street: a tax cut


Cal Hobson May 1st, 2013

With the exception of that most beloved Republican activity — the buying, selling, exchanging, concealing, cleaning, carrying, showing, stroking and shooting of guns — members of the party once led by Lincoln are now best known for their genetically driven obsession: cutting taxes anytime, anywhere, any size, for any reason or excuse.

The long-expected agreement on this year’s scheme proposes to drop Oklahoma’s personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent effective Jan. 1, 2015. The net effect will be to provide a family of four earning about $40,000 an additional 50 cents a day in their pockets. This is not even “trickledown” economics, it’s trickle on.

Annualized revenue loss for state priorities will be $237 million more than this year’s projected monetary growth, but who cares? Gov. Mary Fallin says core government services will be protected, but she must be referring to things other than schools, colleges, universities, career tech centers, roads, bridges, public safety and the health of our citizens.

In her January executive budget, only mental health care was highlighted for any additional significant services, and this came on the heels of the massacre at Newtown by a clearly deranged murderer.

As a byproduct of the tax negotiations, the Republican legislative leadership also announced that any corporate credits or incentives considered for reductions or repeal would be placed in separate legislation. Obviously, this step guarantees it will never pass. Advocates for reform, such as Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, and Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, have fought for tax equity year after year to no avail. These courageous legislators drew unanimous support from the small Democratic caucuses but were easily overwhelmed by their Republican colleagues who have proven they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Pressuring our governor and 149 legislators are some 300 well-paid and tenacious lobbyists skilled in every facet of what masquerades as the political process at the Capitol. Some legislators respond like Pavlov’s dogs to the barked instructions of the Rotunda rogues whose only job is to focus on what legislation to pass or kill as directed by their clients. Our relatively new, and thus inexperienced, solons are in desperate need of the most important commodity at the Capitol: knowledge. Those with it in abundance are three groups of the now-permanent ruling class running our state: the aforementioned lobbyists, longtime agency heads and senior staff in both the Legislature and executive branch, none of them elected by the voters.

So where does this leave so many God-fearing, tax-paying, financially stressed, child-raising (or not) citizens? For hundreds of thousands of our fellow residents, as measured by their education levels, job opportunities, health indicators, social standing and economic status, they are not much better off now when compared the Dirty ’30s.

And 50 cents a day of tax relief designed to boost Fallin’s re-election prospects isn’t going to help them.

Of course, you don’t have to believe me. Just ask your neighbors.


Hobson, a Democrat from Lexington, is a former state senator and Senate president pro tempore.

Opinions expressed on the commentary page, in letters to the editor and elsewhere in this newspaper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ownership or management.

 
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