Kansas repudiates supply-side tax cuts, and Oklahoma should too (Tulsa World)

By World’s Editorial Writers

The Kansas Legislature overrode Gov. Sam Brownback’s veto of an income tax hike Tuesday, repudiating his failed supply-side economic belief that a state could find prosperity by eliminating its ability to fund core public services.

Oklahoma politicians should pay attention.

The Kansas measure will raise $1.2 billion in state revenue over two years. The money is expected to be dedicated to public schools, which the Kansas Supreme Court ruled were unconstitutionally underfunded earlier this year.

The state’s top income tax rate will go from 4.6 percent to 5.7 percent.

If Oklahoma were to raise its top income tax rate from 5 percent to 5.7 percent, it would raise about $400 million in new revenue, according to Gene Perry of the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

When Brownback came to office, the state’s top tax rate was 6.45 percent. He immediately pushed the Republican Legislature to sharply reduce that rate, and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin used that move to push for income tax cuts here, too.

In Kansas and Oklahoma, the argument that cutting state income taxes would produce prosperity was politically successful, if an economic failure.

In fact, both states have proven that income tax rates can devastate a state’s ability to fund its schools without any positive effect on economic growth, especially if the states are struggling against stronger currents in the national economy.

Brownback’s tax-cutting philosophy was rejected by Kansas voters last year. Many of his legislative supporters were replaced by moderate, pro-education Republicans in the primaries and Democrats in the general election.

And now his signature policy has been rejected over his objection.

Oklahoma lawmakers also considered reversing course on tax policy this year, but, sadly, fell short of taking needed action.

We hope Fallin is giving as much consideration to the need to keep up with the neighbors today as she was back when she was determined to match Brownback’s tax-cutting strategy.

Oklahoma’s ill-considered state income tax cuts have devastated the state’s ability to fund public schools, higher education, health, mental health and public safety. The promise of short-term economic growth never appeared, and the state’s long-term prospects are being cut short by these self-inflicted wounds.



Margaret (Maggie) den Harder obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Theology from Seattle Pacific University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. Originally from the Pacific Northwest area of Washington state, Maggie has called Tulsa home for the past 8 years. Since living in Tulsa, Maggie has worked in the legal field, higher education administration, and the nonprofit sector as well as actively volunteering in the community. Maggie also recently spent time at the City of Tulsa as a consultant and wrote the content for Resilient Tulsa, an action-oriented strategy designed to better equity in Tulsa. Through her work, community involvement, and personal experiences, Maggie is interested in the intersection of the law and mental health and addiction treatment issues, preventative and diversion programs, and maternal mental health, particularly post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis. While working at Oklahoma Policy Institute as a research intern, Maggie further developed an interest in family dynamics and stability, economic security-related stress, and intergenerational trauma.

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