In The Know: Leaders continue to push to cut income tax

In The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs.  Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that legislative leadership continued to push various bills aimed at cutting and/or abolishing the income tax.  A Tulsa World editorial suggested that abolishing the income tax is tantamount to ending public education.  The Muskogee Phoenix questioned the wisdom of cutting the income tax while the state is still struggling with budget shortfalls.  The state owes Oklahoma counties millions of dollars in reimbursements.  The costs of repairing the crumbling state Capitol building may be much higher than previously thought.

Rural educators are deeply concerned about the effects of new high stakes graduation tests.  Prosecutors rested their case against former Oklahoma Senate leader Mike Morgan and a judge dismissed charges against a lobbyist and prominent attorney because of insufficient evidence.  A prominent doctor in Oklahoma City criticized the personhood bills making their way through the legislature as an embarrassment to the state and an impediment to his work with infertile families.

NewsOK hosts a six-part series on Oklahoma’s rich and diverse black history.  The Number of the Day is the number of low-income households in Oklahoma who spend more than half of their monthly income on housing.  In today’s Policy Note, NewsOK explores how family poverty contributes to high dropout rates in south Oklahoma City.

In The News

Okla. leaders push forward with plans to cut income taxes

Gov. Mary Fallin’s plan to cut Oklahoma’s income tax and overhaul the state’s tax code is scheduled for a legislative hearing this week, but the governor’s bill is only one of several proposals working through the legislative process.  Each of the proposals has its own unique features, but all would reduce the state’s top income tax rate by varying amounts and offset much of the lost revenue by either eliminating various exemptions that individuals claim on their personal income taxes, scrapping tax breaks handed out to business and industry, or some combination of both.

Read more from the Associated Press at–Income-Tax-Cuts/

Tax cut fever

Here’s a suggestion that would let the Legislature get rid of the personal income tax all at once, now, instead of just crippling the state a piece at a time over 10 years or so:  The personal income tax brings in about a third of the state’s revenue. Coincidentally, or not, about a third of state spending goes to support common education – elementary and secondary schools.  Just do away with the personal income tax in one fell swoop and then make up the lost revenue by completely ending state funding for common education. The schools could just scratch around for the little dabs of county property taxes available to them and make do with volunteer teachers and 200 kids each in classes held outside on the playgrounds of shuttered buildings.

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Timing wrong for Fallin’s tax cut plan

The plan, if fully implemented, would cut $300 million from the state’s revenues.  The state has been struggling with poor economic times. The state could be faced with a shortfall of more than $200 million in the next fiscal year budget.  It makes no sense to cut income to the state when the state already is struggling with a shortfall.  In addition, poor economic times create additional need for the very services that would get cut if the state takes in even less income tax revenue.

Read more from the Muskogee Phoenix at

Oklahoma County: State should pay back counties with extra money

Oklahoma’s state budget is balanced every year because of a constitutional requirement. But that’s partly because the state is able to, in effect, ignore a law that requires the state to reimburse counties for additional homestead exemptions, said Larry Stein, chief deputy to Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan.  “By saying that you’re balancing the budget while passing over these obligations, it’s not right,” Stein said. “Certainly, if you own a vehicle or a house and you say, ‘You know what? I don’t recognize that bill. I’m not going to pay it,’ you’d lose your house. The car would be repossessed.”

Read more from NewsOK at

House Speaker says cost to fix crumbling Oklahoma Capitol building could be more than expected

The price tag to fix the crumbling state Capitol building may be higher than previously thought.  House Speaker Kris Steele said he believes it will be more than the $50 million Gov. Mary Fallin has suggested.  Fallin said earlier this month $50 million was needed to repair the building’s plumbing, electrical and structural problems. The south steps have been barricaded because of falling debris.  House Speaker Kris Steele said he believes it will be more than the $50 million Gov. Mary Fallin has suggested.

Read more from the Associated Press at–Crumbling-Oklahoma-Capitol/

Rural educators concerned over ACE testing

Rural educators are worried about the future for students who don’t pass the required tests needed to graduate high school, particularly since many have already demonstrated proficiency through their coursework, they say.  Neil Morton, director of the Cherokee Nation’s education department, spoke recently at the tribe’s annual giveaway of Cherokee license tag revenue at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Rural school administrators from districts in 13 northeastern Oklahoma counties were in attendance.  “We will have students that may have the requisite grades, but because of the failure of one test, won’t graduate,” he said. “Many students are not test-takers, so we relegate them to second- or third-class status on the basis of one test.”

Read more from the Tulsa World at

Judge in Mike Morgan trial drops all of case against Oklahoma lobbyist

A judge Friday dismissed all of a political corruption case against longtime Oklahoma lobbyist Andy Skeith and half of the case against prominent attorney Martin Stringer because of insufficient evidence.  Former Oklahoma Senate leader Mike Morgan is accused of taking more than $400,000 in bribes.  The judge, though, did not dismiss any of the indictment against former Senate leader Mike Morgan.  Morgan, a Democrat, is accused of accepting more than $400,000 in bribes from three companies to influence legislation.  U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron ruled after prosecutors rested their case on the ninth day of the jury trial in federal court in Oklahoma City.  “You’re free to go,” the judge told Skeith immediately after ruling.

Read more from NewsOK at

Doctor criticizes ‘personhood’ measures proposed by Oklahoma legislators

Two measures being considered by state lawmakers that declare personhood starts at conception would have a devastating effect on reproductive medical services and would be an embarrassment to the state, a doctor said Friday.  While the state of Oklahoma recognizes the right of women, we also need to recognize that there are rights for the unborn.”  “Both measures go way too far and if implemented will cause significant damage to the treatment of infertility and compromise Oklahoma patients,” said Dr. Eli Reshef, medical director at the Bennett Fertility Institute, which is affiliated with Integris Baptist Medical Center. “I don’t think that many of our esteemed legislators have paused to think about the consequences to people.

Read more from NewsOK at

Endangered black history

Last year, Oklahoma said goodbye to a champion of civil rights.  Clara Luper, who led the nation’s first sit-ins to protest segregation at Oklahoma City drugstore lunch counters in 1958, died June 8.  In numerous interviews over the years, Luper said she didn’t know she was making history; she simply was trying to right a fundamental wrong, pushing for a small measure of equality.  Her actions — and those of the others who stood up by sitting down — broke through the color barrier and advanced civil rights, helping to make similar mistreatment unthinkable to the generations that followed.

Read more from NewsOK at

Quote of the Day

The schools could just scratch around for the little dabs of county property taxes available to them and make do with volunteer teachers and 200 kids each in classes held outside on the playgrounds of shuttered buildings.

David Averill, on eliminating the income tax

Number of the Day

96, 748

The number of low-income households in Oklahoma who spend more than half of their monthly income on housing.

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Poverty, mobility have ties to dropout rate, experts say

A high school diploma can make navigating the adult world easier, but making it all the way to graduation can be difficult for students in southwest Oklahoma City.  Grant has the highest dropout rate in the Oklahoma City School District: 9.5 percent.  Last year, 147 students quit — about twice as many as the next highest school, Capitol Hill High School.  For Sanders, the numbers are unacceptable.  “It is extremely daunting because there is no one answer to stop a student from dropping out,” Sanders said. “If you look at the big picture, it’s insurmountable. You have to attack it one piece at a time.”

Read more from NewsOK at

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One thought on “In The Know: Leaders continue to push to cut income tax

  1. Most Income Tax systems (state of federal) generally do not work and eventually fall apart.

    This is due to the thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of complicated income tax law that is generally mind numbing, burdensome, paper intensive and full of traps and penalties if you do not comply with the bookkeeping requirements.

    Tax attorneys and CPA’s generally have different opinions on how to report Income tax transactions and if you went to any of them for a consultation on a complicated tax matter, you would generally get different answers. So to even attempt to comply with the whole thing costs you more money, in addition to the income tax you end up paying.

    As a system of taxation, Income tax does not work. Oklahoma’s state income tax code should be abolished and replaced with a sane tax system. This needs to occur now. This change will actually benefit the schools and citizenry.

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