As reported in CapitolBeatOK, a group of 30 prominent business executives, civic leaders and philanthropists recently sent an open letter to the Governor, Speaker and Senate Pro Tem urging them not to adopt a trigger mechanism that would lead to automatic future tax cuts. The signatories represent business leaders from both political parties, including George Kaiser, Kirk Humphreys, Tom Ward, Larry Mocha, Stacey Schusterman, Ken Fergeson, Bob Ross and Stan Lybarger. The letter reads in full [click here to download a copy]:
An Open Letter to Governor Mary Fallin, Speaker of the House Kris Steele and Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman:
As business executives and community leaders concerned with Oklahoma’s fiscal stability, we urge you to reject proposals to adopt tax trigger mechanisms that would automatically lower Oklahoma’s income tax in future years based on future growth in state revenue.
We are of diverse opinions as to whether cutting Oklahoma’s top income tax rate is the right policy at this time. However, we are all in strong agreement that this legislature should not bind the hands of future legislatures by enacting a tax trigger.
It is the responsibility of each legislature to make decisions based on the state’s needs at the time. Once tax cuts are written into law, it will be almost impossible, constitutionally or politically, to change course, whatever the situation.
Enacting future tax cuts now would especially hinder our ability to address future unforeseen circumstances, such as natural disasters or an abrupt economic downturn. As the Oklahoman stated in an editorial, “ income tax triggers are a one-way ticket to lower taxes no matter what happens to the economy.” University of Oklahoma President David Boren notes that, “We have no crystal ball. That is why we should examine tax and budget decisions on an annual basis. That is the conservative approach.”
Deciding tomorrow’s tax cuts today would tie the hands of future legislators, make them less accountable to their constituents, and limit their ability to make the best decisions based on the circumstances that they face. We sincerely hope you will reject the concept of triggers that would mandate future tax changes..
Bob Ross Tom Ward Kirk Humphreys Mike Neal Francis Rooney John W. Gibson Bill Cameron Ken Lackey Chet Cadieux Henry Zarrow Don Millican George Kaiser Ken Fergeson Stacy Schusterman Melvin Moran Stan Lybarger Meredith Siegfried Becky J. Frank Fredrick Drummond Jody Parker Alan Armstrong Frod Drummond David Adams Guy L. Berry Larry Mocha Ken Levit Robert C. Poe Vince LoVoi Renzi Stone Jeff Dunn
For more on why triggers are bad policy, see our blog posts “Politicians make bad fortune tellers” and “The terrible thing about triggers“. For full information on the tax debate, go to our Tax Reform page.