Tax Cut Skeptics – Notable Quotes


Business Leaders

  • Don Millican, CFO, Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. – “I’m all for tax cuts, if we are still able to pay our bills, if we are able to treat our state employees fairly including keeping our promises to them for retirement, if we have a well maintained infrastructure, a strong educational system and a safe corrections system, and if we are able to address adequately our health and foster care systems.”
  • Phil Busey, Sr – “There seems to be no long-range strategic plan considering overall impacts of cuts on services and magically, if we reduce taxes an increase in business and sales will make up the difference. It sounds like trickle-down economics, but there are too many variables. You could not run a business this way.
  • Oklahoma Academy – “The state income tax should not be eliminated until further independent studies have been conducted on the impact and a budget-neutral strategy has been developed.”
  • Wes Stucky, CEO of the Ardmore Development Authority – “For 24 years, I’ve been conducting interviews with executives of companies that we tried to recruit to Ardmore that ended up locating elsewhere. Not once in all those years did a company that rejected Ardmore base its decisions on taxes.”
  • Chris Benge, Secretary of State, while serving as Vice-President of the Metro Tulsa Chamber of Commerce – “If our ability to educate and train employees for a 21st century economy is damaged through lack of funding, if we can’t maintain our roads and bridges, strong health care system, robust research and technology infrastructure, safe streets, etc., then the benefits of a reduction in the income tax rates may be limited.”
  • Tax Reform Task Force Member and chief financial officer at Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. Don Millican – “Basically, you’re taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich. I can’t support that.”
  • Scott Meacham, former State Treasurer and chair of the State Chamber of Oklahoma’s Economic Development and Taxation Committee – “On the one hand, whatever out tax structure is in OK it’s doing a good job of not holding us back, and on the other hand we don’t want to do anything to mess it up. And that’s what you always gotta be careful of when you start getting political solutions to problems that may not really exist.”
  • Roy Williams, Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce CEO – “What you find too is that companies never do go to the cheapest location. They go to the place where they believe they get the best value for what it is they invest in and the cost that they pay. They want good infrastructure. They need highways, roads, airports, ports, utility infrastructure, communication infrastructure, so they can get their raw materials in or get their services and products out. So that is a huge factor that goes into the competiveness of a region. Another, this has been mentioned, is good education facilities, because when they go to a place, they have to rely on the talent that is there and/or the talent they can recruit into there. And they know that to keep the talent that is there, or to recruit the talent in, it’s got to be a place where people want to live.”
  • Justin McLaughlin, Tulsa Chamber of Commerce VP for economic development – “[The Quality Jobs Program] is funded by the income tax solely, and to me, that is one of the biggest benefits that we have to give to a company. It seems like in the incentive game it’s never enough for companies, but I will tell you I think without that quality jobs incentive we would be in significant trouble here in the state of Oklahoma. There are other incentives that I believe would also be impacted possibly if the state income tax were to be reduced. But I can tell you, Quality Jobs going away is something that keeps me up at night.”

State Officials

  • State Treasurer Ken Miler – “I have never understood the logic of triggers since there is no economic reason to pass a measure today that is predicated on some future event, when one can simply wait for that event to occur to preserve flexibility.
  • State Treasurer Ken Miller – ” I also would like see our income tax under five percent, but one must consider the timing of passing a $200 million per year income tax cut when the state is unable to balance its budget with the tax and spending structure it has today – even in an economic expansion- without using ever-increasing amounts of one-time sources of revenue.”
  • Secretary of State Chris Benge– “Years ago, I often heard companies say the cost of doing business was their No. 1 concern. During my time in the Tulsa Regional Chamber and now as secretary of state, I am increasingly hearing from employers who say that an educated workforce, supported by strong public education, is the most important factor in deciding where to locate or expand.”
  • State Treasurer Ken Miller – “At some point you have to realize that you have to have revenue; you have to pay for core services that our citizens depend on. You can’t continue to erode the revenue stream.”
  • State Treasurer Ken Miller – “To responsibly finance tax cuts, policymakers should eliminate one dollar of spending or credits for every dollar cut in taxes.”
  • Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, House budget committee chair – “If you just go to cut, it affects public education, health care, and services such as public safety. We have to know what the ramifications are when we go making these decisions.” 
  • Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore – “I have yet to have a constituent come up to me and say, ‘I’m sure glad you’re getting rid of that income tax.'”
  • Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill – “We have roughly 750 highway patrolmen on the highway right now. Of those, 239 are eligible to retire and we’ve got a 30-man academy this year. These are things that are important to us right now. Why cut the income tax right now?”
  • Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon – “I am absolutely a No (vote) unless they can prove to me without a shadow of doubt that it will not affect land owners, property owners or veterans or the elderly.”
  • Rep. John Bennet, R-Sallisaw – ““I am a land owner and so are a lot of my constituents. I would never vote yes on a bill that would raise taxes in other areas such as sales tax, property taxes, etc. I feel that the current proposed bills would force an increase in other taxes to provide services that we need.”
  • House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City – “Tax cuts do not make taking care of our seniors in need a priority. Right now I think it is more important that we provide proper care for our seniors than tax breaks for our wealthier citizens. This is simply fiscally irresponsible.” 
  • Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Choteau – “We are already endangering the safety of Oklahomans by providing so little money for public safety – if we enact any of the income tax cut proposals on the table, this will result in even less for our brave officers on the front lines.”
  • Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City – “This is just a bad idea. Oklahoma has one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation, and instead of providing proper care for our most vulnerable citizens, we’re going to cut them off at the knees. Once you break the income tax, it is very difficult to fix it because a tax increase can only be passed by three-fourths of both House and Senate.”
  • Rep. Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs – “Every year that I’ve been at the Capitol the Legislature has made budget cuts to important programs. If we make more cuts, we can’t blame it on economic circumstances any longer. Instead of making tax cuts, we should be restoring funding to nutrition programs, adult day services, SoonerCare, and other services that care for our seniors.”
  • Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa – “You can’t just say ‘Hey, I want to cut your income tax,’ without being responsible and looking at the whole picture.” 
  • Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Springer – “The difference between Oklahoma and Texas doing business has nothing to do with taxes.”
  • Senate Minority Leader Sean Burrage, D-Claremore – “Supporters claim we’re going to see businesses and people flock to Oklahoma if we end the income tax.  When they see Oklahoma’s schools, roads and bridges, and our public health all ranked last in the nation, this will be the last place in the nation they’ll want to come.”
  • Sen. Tom Ivester, D-Sayre – “The State Capitol building is crumbling around us.  We don’t know how we’re going to pay for the DHS reforms that are supposed to prevent more Oklahoma children from dying in state custody.  We have yet to restore funding cuts in education and other critical areas in the wake of the national recession.  No one promoting the elimination of one-third of the state’s revenue is addressing these issues, except with vague claims that this will bring in more jobs, more taxpayers and that will take care of it.  These are empty political promises that will leave thousands of Oklahomans without vital services and many more with a lower quality of life.”

Local and Education Officials

  • University of Oklahoma President David Boren – “How can we afford another tax cut when we are already shortchanging the education of our children and grandchildren? Failure to adequately support higher education and all of education will discourage the creation of new jobs and investments in our state.
  • Tulsa Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard – “[Special education cuts are] about Legislature’s unwillingness to fund schools. … If education had the $60 million that the Legislature gave to the state income tax, this would not even be an issue” 
  • Tulsa City Counciler Blake Ewing – “It’s like taking an axe to [tax credits] based on a guess.”
  • Sallisaw Mayor Shannon Vann – “[Eliminating the income tax] isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats. This is about urban versus rural.”
  • Sallisaw Superintendent Scott Farmer – “We had concerns about the tax cut. We applaud legislators for taking a step back. We can’t continue to absorb these cuts.”
  • Sequoyah County Commissioner Jim Rogers – “We barely receive funding from the state to fix our roads. My biggest concern was how the state planned to replace the revenue.”
  • University of Oklahoma President David Boren – “We’ve employed every creative cost-cutting method we can think of, and we’re now cutting into the flesh and bone of the university’s mission of academic excellence. The greater the tax cut, the less possible revenues for the university, and virtually every college and department at OU has already been affected.”
  • Norman Superintendent Joe Siano – “I’m not a tax expert, but as a realist and educator, I will say that, as a legislator, one cannot publicly call for increased rigor and accountability in public schools while simultaneously cutting revenue or refusing to rebuild it to previous numbers. Our state seems to lack the understanding that reform and financial resource go hand in hand. As it stands, we will struggle to maintain and work with our budgets and our schools, but ‘maintaining’ is not ‘progressing.’”

Newspaper Editorials

  • Tulsa World – “Here is the bottom line: Within a balanced budget, you cannot simultaneously take money out of the state treasury by cutting taxes and spend more money on the things the state desperately needs.”
  • Tulsa World – “It’s time for state leaders to take a more realistic look at the state’s legitimate needs and rethink the rush toward a tax cut. OHP troopers are a spending priority, but they aren’t the only one, and cutting the state’s ability to meet those needs only digs the hole deeper and prevents state progress.”
  • Journal Record – “Our roads are in terrible shape. A bridge that connects two communities is closed for months, and the experts say other pieces of critical infrastructure are in bad shape. Our state mental health agency only has enough money to help the most desperate people, while thousands go without care. Our teachers aren’t paid at the regional average, despite lip service about how important they are to our children. Even our state Capitol, with its gorgeous new dome, is crumbling and festering. With all these needs, Gov. Mary Fallin’s plan to cut taxes seems ill-timed at best, and unwisely focused on ideology over practicality.”
  • The Oklahoman – “Still, the 2012 proposals to reduce Oklahoma’s top rate to 3.5 percent (as a step on the road toward eliminating the personal income tax) seem even more pie-in-the-sky today than they did a year ago”
  • The Enid News and Eagle– “It’s one thing to be fiscally conservative, but it’s another to be economically unrealistic.”
  • The Tulsa World – “Perhaps between now and the end of the session there will be an outbreak of sanity among our legislators, a realization that cutting taxes in this economic climate, just so they can say they did, is the height of recklessness and irresponsibility.”
  • The Oklahoman – “But how can we mesh the need to address a long-term salary plan with the state’s many other pressing needs and with a movement toward a reduced or even eliminated state income tax? That’s a question without a real answer.”
  • The Tulsa World – “”More of this “right-sizing” probably is in store for state government. But how do we define right-sizing? Is government the right size if there aren’t enough correctional officers to handle prison unrest? Is it right-sized if children are crowded into classrooms? Is it the right size if sex offenders cannot be properly supervised? Is it the right size when DHS caseloads are so high that the vulnerable slip through the cracks? “

Letters to the Editor

  • Georgia Sparks, Edmond – “I’m a conservative but that doesn’t mean that I want to make cuts to medical programs for sick children. I don’t want to get a few dollars in a tax refund that means cuts will be made for needed repairs to our highways, roads and bridges. I don’t want to hear that our educational system is being cut back. Being a conservative means that I don’t mind spending money wisely.”
  • Emily Frech, Norman – “Gov. Mary Fallin, one of the most adamant supporters of this bill, insists on her official website that, as governor, she will create ‘a system where good teachers and good schools are rewarded.’ My school is not just good, Gov. Fallin, it is excellent. Please start treating it as such.”
  • Lisa Sheppard, Norman – “If state funding for counties and cities is reduced, property taxes must increase or services will be cut. Yes, there’s probably still room for cutting waste in government, but there has to be a limit.”
  • Richard Wells, Norman – “Oklahoma is a sort of social caboose in the federal system…We’re a poorly funded and poorly invested state.”
  • Phillip Massad, Oklahoma City – “In fact, taxes aren’t a significant factor in luring businesses. Businesses want an educated workforce and strong infrastructure (good roads, bridges, etc.) — two areas that will be hard hit by a phaseout of income tax.”
  • William Bennett, Oklahoma City – “Ending the income tax dumps a larger burden on the poor. Ending the income tax would be an unfair burden on the poor and an unearned bonus to the rich.”
  • Jack Dill, Blanchard – “Somehow there has to be a balance between wanting state government to provide the things that make for a good life for all, taking care of our children and elderly and how to pay for it.”
  • Kris Lackey, Norman – “Oklahoma Republicans can worship income tax-free Texas if they want, but the results will be the same here as they are there: higher property taxes and sales taxes, for which the working poor and the middle class will pay dearly.”
  • Lynne Shaw – “Ignoring the serious doubts and warnings expressed by so many economists and faculty in the state is irresponsible and unacceptable.”
  • Coleman Downing, Tulsa – “Who would want to move here when our schools are failing and underfunded? Or when our public health suffers? Or when our infrastructure is deteriorating? All of which would surely happen (most of which is happening) before any business would move to the state.”
  • Jim McGoodwin, Edmond – “If Oklahoma has enough excess revenue for a tax cut, shouldn’t we use those funds to pay our debts first? The state has approximately $2 billion in debt. Much of this is the result of the Legislature failing to ensure that public pension funds are fully funded.”


Oklahoma Policy Insititute (OK Policy) advances equitable and fiscally responsible policies that expand opportunity for all Oklahomans through non-partisan research, analysis, and advocacy.

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