What I didn’t get from my tax cut (Guest post: Erin Taylor, PhD)

money funnelErin Taylor, PhD, is a mother to five children and a disability advocate.

This year I will receive my lavish savings from Oklahoma’s latest tax cut.  It’s likely in the vicinity of $90. What I did not receive, thanks to slashed state services, costs my family a great deal more. My youngest child, who has a developmental disability, is on his sixth year on the Waiting List for the Home and Community Based Waiver. We’re likely to wait at least another six years, because Oklahoma legislators will not fund the state match for available federal Medicaid dollars.  Our $90 largesse from the state is not going to provide him with a safe home, personal care, or vocational support.

I lost funding for my second job teaching at a university because they’ve had their budgets cut. This was a second job that I needed to pay medical bills and college tuition. At my younger children’s school, there is no money for paraprofessionals, textbooks, or paper.  As I wrote this article, the Western Heights School District called to inform me that budget cuts will eliminate the after-school bus program. For the children in my community, this means little ones go home to empty houses. What are we going to ask Oklahomans — especially our poor, elderly, children, and those with disabilities — to sacrifice next?

I have it easier than many in Oklahoma, with a dual income, health insurance, and a little equity.  Hundreds of thousands of Oklahoma families are less fortunate, and we deny their humanity by not adequately funding basic services. Put yourself in the shoes of one of those families. While working two minimum wage jobs, stretch your budget to pay for rent, child care, gas, winter coats, utilities, a transmission repair, and food. Have the common sense to never need an urgent (and expensive) medical procedure, because you don’t have private insurance and we’ve cut your Medicaid. Resist the urge to decrease work hours to care for an ailing parent. Absolutely don’t have a mental illness or permanent disability; we can’t afford that with the hundreds of millions we give in tax incentives to business interests – even when they have a dubious record of “giving back” to our economy. It’s about choices, you see.  And we — Oklahoma legislators and voters — have not picked our families’ well-being first.

I am not originally from Oklahoma, but when I came here between the OKC Bombing and the 1999 tornadoes, I thought these were the most generous people I had ever met. Even in a state with pervasive and generational poverty, people tended to one another. Our elected officials were answerable to those who showed up and spoke up. I have seen people with very limited income give to neighbors when their homes were blown away; I have seen churches step in to help homeless families.  Why is this “Oklahoma Standard” not held to the people we allow to take office?  Is it because we did not vote in our best interest or because we just didn’t vote at all?

I’ve got my $90 in hand.  I’m giving it to a family I know who needs it.  This doesn’t make me charitable. It just meets the obligation I am held to by my fellow Oklahomans: That Christian value of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31). So thanks for that tax savings, elected officials. I will use it to do the job you won’t.

The opinions stated above are not necessarily those of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. This blog is a venue to help promote the discussion of ideas from various points of view and we invite your comments and contributions. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.

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The opinions stated in guest articles are not necessarily those of OK Policy, its staff, or its board. To see our guidelines for blog submissions, click here.

6 thoughts on “What I didn’t get from my tax cut (Guest post: Erin Taylor, PhD)

  1. Dr. Taylor, You have written a most heart felt piece — I am on the outside looking in on your world. But we must now decide where we are to go to get political changes that will benefit people and not campaign donors or corporations– Historically Americans were not shy when confronted with tyranny–and this is the where we are now–a tyranny of the majority —Our founding fathers feared this form of tyranny as much as any English king –this is not a government of our people— and the feeble handout of ” vote’em out of office” is not working –we need to at least make use of social medias to provide the light of malfeasance on the governor and her legislature–this on going “revenue failure” needs to be tied to them and let them all go down with it! We all have heard cynical stories about how many people have to die just to get a stop sign installed at an intersection—the new updated version is at a state level now. How many Oklahomans will die for lack of health care on the Governors’ watch?

  2. I have had the privilege of being Dr. Taylor’s friend for several years and this piece she authored provides insight into and speaks volumes of her advocacy and passion for those who demonstrate the most need. Additionally, this piece expresses the concerns and experiences of many Oklahomans, but unfortunately far too many are denied the right to basic healthcare and human services. It is my hope that, through the heartfelt words of Dr. Taylor, several other Oklahomans become more aware of the challenges faced by far to many here in Oklahoma.

  3. Thank you for speaking the truth about Oklahoma’s values. Our state is on a race to the bottom in caring for our citizens. We must see a change in our representation at the state legislature by working to elect women and men that will change the conversation about what is critically important for our state’s future.

  4. I live in both Kansas and Oklahoma. The people are good but they vote mean and/or uninformed. Public policy decisions destroy the middle class and a civilized, compassionate safety net.

  5. Your point of view is very well stated. I agree whole heartedly. The state of Oklahoma government affairs is cruel & embarrassing to the Christian values the majority in charge claim to value.

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