The income tax has been the top subject of debate this legislative session. Governor Fallin and some legislative leaders have promoted “bold proposals” to cut, and ultimately repeal, the state personal income tax.Yet after three straight years of budget cuts, funding levels remain in a deep hole. At a time when our children’s class sizes are growing, our roads and bridges are in disrepair, our prisons are critically understaffed, higher education tuition is escalating, and we’re not treating many with mental illness and disabilities, it is simply wrong to make further tax cuts our priority.
Now is the critical time for Oklahomans to make the case against tax cuts directly to legislators. A working group of Republican legislators and cabinet members are making decisions now behind closed doors. Advocates are not at the table – but can make their voices heard. Click here for a list of the working group members, along with their email addresses and phone numbers. We’ve set it up so you can copy and paste the email addresses of all the working group members into a single email. We’ve also included information on how to identify and reach your own Representative and Senator.
OK Policy has created a set of issue-specific fact sheets that can help you make the case for why saving the income tax is critical for important sectors of our community. Fact sheets are available for: business and economic development, common education, higher education, health care, rural Oklahoma, public safety, seniors, children, Oklahomans with disabilities, and low-income Oklahomans. All the fact sheets are collected on the Take Action page of our website.
Here are excerpts from emails by several Oklahomans who have contacted their legislators in recent days.
The director of a statewide association of service providers for individuals with developmental disabilities wrote:
We have all watched with great anticipation the slow but steady recovery of the Oklahoma economy and look forward to a time when we are once again prosperous and able to fully fund the services provided by the state to its citizens. That time, unfortunately, has not yet arrived. We are still on the road to recovery and have not yet become robust. Thus, it is critical that we not reduce or eliminate our largest revenue source. It is, quite simply, ill advised.
One longtime community advocate for disadvantaged children wrote:
I have a serious problem with reducing taxes when we are not meeting basic needs of many of our citizens in this state, especially children, the disabled, the elderly and those with addiction issues. Our taxes fund critical needs that have long been underfunded in this state. To cut taxes would hurt our states ability to attract new businesses, and further will hurt those most in need of help.
Another Tulsa-area child advocate wrote:
As Legislators, you have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Oklahomans and in the future of our state. PLEASE DO NOT REDUCE OR ELIMINATE THE INCOME TAX! We need these funds to improve our quality of life and attract new businesses who will bring families to Oklahoma.
Finally, a small-business owner and registered Republican from outside Oklahoma City wrote:
While I think everyone who has to pay taxes of any kind would very much like to see a reduction in the income tax; however, some of us have reasonable math skills and understand you cannot significantly cut state income without either replacing it with another tax or drastically reducing services in the state… With many OK services rated so low in MANY National Standards, I respectfully ask that you pull out a calculator and act responsibly in this matter.
Elected officials do listen to their constituents – speak up now while your voice can still make a difference. Again, click here for contact information for working group members and other legislators, here for fact sheets and general talking points, and here for comprehensive resources and materials on the tax policy debate. If you wish to stay engaged in our efforts, please join the Together OK group on Facebook or sign up for Budget Coalition email alerts.