Why Saving The Income Tax Is Critical For Public Safety
1. The income tax is essential to public safety funding. The income tax provides the Department of Corrections with $141.2 million, or 30.7 percent of its total appropriations. This is equivalent to the cost of incarcerating more than 9,300 inmates, or about 36 percent of the state’s entire prison population. Over one in three dollars appropriated to the Department of Public Safety comes from income tax revenues.
2. Oklahomans are less safe due to recent budget cuts. Three consecutive years of budget cuts have restricted the ability of the state’s public safety agencies to operate effectively. The number of troopers on Oklahoma highways is at its lowest level in 22 years. The Department of Corrections is at over 95 percent of inmate capacity but just 70 percent of staffing capacity. DOC needs at least $31 million restored to its budget for vital infrastructure, including new electronic locks at four prisons. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has freezed filling 35 vacancies at the agency.
3. Oklahoma’s public safety retirement systems are already underfunded. The Firefighters Pension System has assets equal to less than 65 percent of its liabilities, one of the worst funded ratios of any pension system. The Law Enforcement Pension System is also underfunded. If the revenues needed to shore up these systems become scarcer, the Legislature may chip away at the benefits for those who keep Oklahomans safe.
What You Can Do Today
1. Get Informed. Resources to learn more about the income tax debate are freely available athttp://okpolicy.org/take-action
2. Contact elected officials. Let your elected representatives and the top officials who are making decisions on taxes and the budget know how you feel. Your voice can be heard!
Rep. Earl Sears, Chair of House Appropriations and Budget committee (405) firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman (405) 521-5528 email@example.com
Senator Clark Jolley, Chair of Senate Appropriations Committee (405) firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor Mary Fallin (405) 521-2342 click here to email the Governor
Find your state legislators’ contact information here and see how to contact Governor Fallin here. You can also reach your legislators through the House switchboard at (405) 521-2711 or 1-800-522-8502 and the Senate switchboard at (405) 524-0126 or 1-800-865-6490.
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