Saturday, March 30, 2013

Oklahoma Governor Fallin Pushes Tax Cuts for Wealthy

What takes the biggest hit for the tax cuts for wealthy Oklahomans?  EDUCATION and INFRASTRUCTURE!  

Citizens of Oklahoma said no last year to tax cuts and wanted full funding for education and infrastructure.  Following the lead of the National Republicans, the Oklahoma Republican officials forge ahead with this idea we must have tax cuts for the wealthy even though it cuts into programs.  It is disgusting that the GOP at all levels cannot see the forest for the trees.  The money for wealthy tax cuts would be better spent on education to fix some of our poor performing high schools which sit within miles of the State Capitol.

It has taken years to get money to fix bridges in Norman that were losing concrete.  Try driving some of our accordion roads like I-40 eastbound or drive across crumbling bridges and you discover if the Federal Government has not funded or local bond issues, Oklahoma is way behind in fixing infrastructure.

Then there is fixing the State Capitol building that IMHO should not have had a dome added until you made sure the original building was fully repaired and structurally sound for the dome.  Now the Capitol sheds concrete while our GOP Legislature wants to wait 6-8 years to fix until they can pay cash but with the $100M hit for wealthy tax cuts, that's a pipe dream.  Just let it deteriorate more instead fixing the problem now using low interest bonds.  Are there no Republican engineers in the Legislature that are will to speak out about fixing the Capitol?

With the lack of funding for education and infrastructure, the state finds enough money to keep funding defense of social issues that keep getting overturned by the Courts as Unconstitutional.  Governor Fallin also turned down Medicaid funds from Obamacare so now over 100,000 people will not have healthcare but the wealthy are going to get a tax cut if the GOP has their way.  Let me get this straight -- there is not enough money to pay for additional people on Medicaid with Obamacare Exchanges but there is enough money for tax cuts?  Once again GOP is proving the wealthy come first no matter what.

Let's not forget the money wasted for the OK Attorney General to sue to block and/or end Obamacare which was declared Constitutional.  Shaking my head at the amount of money wasted in this state on using the Attorney General's office to defend bills that are Unconstitutional or in this case end Obamacre which is not going to happen.

All the while Oklahoma Republicans short change education and infrastructure not to mention state employees who very seldom get raises including 2013 where a pay raise for 34,000 state employees is not included in the budget.  Yet, they want to cut tax rates for the wealthy!  If I was a state employee, I wouldn't vote for a Republican if you paid me - actually I am getting that way as regular citizen.  Then there is this when it comes to Oklahoma education that was enacted before Republicans took control of the legislature:
This law was enacted just ten years ago, at which time it was unanimously adopted by both chambers. 
“It’s my understanding that the author of this bill as well as others consider the Fund Education First policy to be antiquated given the Legislature has effectively ignored this mandate for eight of the last nine years,” said Rep. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. “However, I am disheartened at this defeatist perspective, because as lawmakers we can and should champion the education of our children, and that goal begins with prioritizing appropriations to our public school system.” 
In 2004 the legislature met the Fund Education First deadline when the governor approved common education funding on March 22nd, 2004. Every year since, however, the deadline has come and went without much hoorah or explanation. 
Although the law requires legislators to create a common education budget by April 1st, there is no penalty if they fail to meet this deadline. 
In 2005 following 2004 election, Republicans took over the House and funding education no longer was a priority so they routinely go against the law they helped pass.  In 2004, Governor Henry, a Democrat, was in charge with an Oklahoma Democrat legislature so things got done.  Since the Republicans took over, the state has been going downhill on education and infrastructure funding in particular but number of ballot measures to push their hard right agenda has risen.

This headline is not something I would want to see as Governor if I was running for reelection:
Oklahoma Latest Republican State To Push Tax Cuts For The Rich 
By Travis Waldron on Mar 29, 2013 at 10:45 am 
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is the latest Republican governor pushing for cuts to the state income tax, and like the plans from other states, Fallin’s would give most of its benefits to the state’s wealthiest residents. The proposal is gaining steam in the state legislature, where it has passed the House and is awaiting consideration in the Senate. 
Fallin’s plan reduces the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, and while it is modest compared to tax cuts other Republican states are pursuing, it would still cost the state roughly $100 million a year. And according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, more than 40 percent of its tax cuts would go to the state’s richest 5 percent of residents while the bottom 60 percent would see just 9 percent of the benefits. The poorest fifth of Oklahoma residents would see no tax cut at all
Oklahoma’s tax code is already skewed toward the wealthy: the poorest Oklahomans pay an average of 10.3 percent of their income in taxes, while the wealthiest 1 percent pay just 4.6 percent of theirs, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. And while Fallin is cutting taxes and reducing state revenues, Oklahoma will spend less this fiscal year on education than it did last year and is still spending 10.7 percent less on higher education than it did before the recession. 
Republican governors across the country are pitching tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, and like Fallin, they sell them as a way to boost their economies. A recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, however, found that after a similar round of tax cuts in the 1990s, states that cut taxes saw slower economic and job growth than states that did not. (HT Citizens for Tax Justice)
I opposed tax cuts last year along with many Oklahomans and oppose them this year as Republicans are going to take $100M out of the Treasury with nothing to show for it.  Wealthy are not going to create jobs but our education and infrastructure which future employers look at is going to take another hit.  What is with the GOP mentality about tax cuts for the wealthy is the end all be all?  It is shortsighted and foolish.

The people in the bracket below $175,000 better think twice before voting for any GOP for office in Oklahoma in 2014.  The small tax cut for wealthy Oklahomans is going to hurt the State in the long run but the stubborn GOP only cares about the wealthy so it makes them no difference.

Just say NO to Tax Cuts in Oklahoma!

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