Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Oklahoma Legislature has $188M Less to Spend Then the Original $170M

Why am I not surprised that the amount for the legislature to budget is less not up?  That means the garbage some Republicans have been feeding the Oklahoma taxpayers that the legislature would have more to spend was wrong.  Note that it is due in large part to Corporate Income Tax Collections.  Yet the Republicans refuse to budge on raising the horizontal drilling tax from 1% back to 7% where it was originally when in the early 90's they decided oil and gas needed a tax break on horizontal drilling. Excuse me but that industry is recording record profits today yet the tax is still 1% and has not been raised.

But then, I want to know why the prices at the pump here in Oklahoma are skyrocketing since the people at the local 7/11 are as shocked as the consumer.  No one has come up with a good explanation except the guy behind me in line said Northern Keystone Pipeline -- raise all our prices at the pump to declare they will come down with the Northern Keystone approved.  Do I believe he could be correct -- you betcha.

The truth is out -- $17M less for the OK Legislature to spend then was projected in December -- OOPS!  Will someone tell the legislature to quit passing social conservative bills that the taxpayers have to foot the bill for defending in court?  At the same time tell the current Attorney General Pruitt to quit wasting our tax dollars on trying to overturn the Affordable Care Act -- not happening and tired of wasted money on a pipedream of the hard right.   
February 18, 2014 
Okla. Legislature to have $188M less to spend 
Associated Press 
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Legislature will have even less revenue to appropriate this year for state services than initially projected, in large part due to volatile corporate income tax collections. 
A state board headed by Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday certified $6.9 billion in available revenue for the Legislature to spend on state programs for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
That amount is more than $188 million less than the Legislature appropriated on state services last year, and $17 million less than was projected in December.
Finance officials say the main reason for the sharp decline since December is a decrease in the estimate on corporate income tax collections, and Fallin asked two members of the board to develop recommendations for better estimating those figures
That doesn't even account for the fact that Governor Fallin and the legislature want a tax cut to keep up with Kansas.  How is that working out for Kansas BTW -- not well but why let that stand in the way of an ALEC Tax Cut? From the Oklahoma Policy Institute comes this article about Kansas Economic Growth -- not exactly a glowing picture and makes you ask why would Fallin and the GOP want Oklahoma to be like Kansas?
Annie McKay is Executive Director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth (KCEG). This post previously appeared on the KCEG blog. 
Ever since Kansas enacted substantial income tax cuts in 2012 and 2013, we have eagerly awaited the prosperity and Texas-sized job growth that we were promised would be spurred by these changes. 
Unfortunately, our efforts to be like Texas aren’t paying off for most Kansans. In fact, after two years of tax cuts:
  • The vast majority of Kansans aren’t seeing their paychecks grow.
  • Surrounding states that held the line on income taxes are doing better than Kansas.
  • The jobs we are adding aren’t lifting Kansans out of poverty.
Back in November, we heard from the experts who estimate revenues for the state. The bad news? They scaled back earlier expectations of personal income growth in the state for the coming three years. It’s now expected to be below the national average all three years. Where else has this pattern occurred? In states that significantly reduced their incomes taxes in the 1990s and early 2000s. 
Recently, Kansans have been told that we’re adding 1,000 private jobs per month, but that’s hardly something to celebrate. It’s less job growth than we’ve seen in surrounding states, where income taxes were not cut. Once again, we trail the national average for job growth. The dismal results for Kansas were predictable: They repeat the sluggish job growth in states that cut income taxes in the 1990s and early 2000s. 
Read More
President of The University of Oklahoma David Boren has weighed in on the Gov Fallin tax cuts -- you could say that President Boren speaks for a lot of Oklahoma taxpayers who believe in education. We just passed two schools bond issues here in Norman by a sizeable percentage so the home of The University of Oklahoma is very pro-education -- shame a lot of the rest state is not or our legislature would not even consider more cuts to education at any level after Oklahoma leads the nation in cutting education since 2008 when the Republicans took over the legislature with cuts of well over 20%.

From The OK Policy Institute:
Fallin’s tax cuts and lack of funding for higher education also led University of Oklahoma President David Boren to write that both policies are a mistake. 
"Can we afford another tax cut when we can't give another tax cut without cutting vital services?" - University of Oklahoma President David Boren. 
Boren told the Tulsa World residents need to start asking, "what kind of state do we want to be? Who are we as a people? I don’t think we want ignorance and lack of opportunity to be our legacy.” 
Boren points out in the 1970s state funding made up about half of OU's budget. It is now down to 17 percent, resulting in what he calls a privatization of public higher education.
He is says he is also concerned colleges and universities have to make tough decisions about whether to keep quality programs or start offering narrow opportunities for students. 
Had one person tell me after President Boren's editorial in the Tulsa World that is just OU but it is not just OU, as an OSU economics professor weighed in on Gov Fallin touting Tax Cuts to the OKC Chamber or as some of us like to say -- the ALEC Agenda:
The governor also says such cuts attract more jobs and companies to Oklahoma. 
But the evidence for such an economic boost is thin, according to a guest blog post for the Oklahoma Policy Institute by Oklahoma State University economist Dan Rickman:
“Evidence from my own studies and those of many others suggests that adjustments in state and local taxes and spending can, at most, spark marginal gains in economic performance. Across the United States in recent decades, states and localities have adopted more similar tax and spending policies, leaving less room for improvement.” 
Rickman’s research also indicates Fallin’s statements that the evidence shows income tax cuts boost overall revenues to government is without backing.
“Crucially, there is no evidence that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting future growth and tax collections. For public officials, there is no escape from carefully considering how various balances of taxes and spending affect both government budgets and surrounding economies.” 
Both of our Major Universities know that education cannot continue to take these cuts to higher education along with cuts to public education.  Why would the Governor Fallin push more tax cuts which will lead to less funding for education at all levels?  Being stubborn is not becoming to a Governor.  It makes no common sense and hasn't from day one why with less dollars to spend the Governor and some of the legislature want more tax cuts?  How beholden are they to ALEC who writes a lot of bills as we see the same wording for bills in various states.   Have Republicans become that devoid of independent thinking?  Sure looks like it in Oklahoma from a lot of the bills submitted in this legislature.   With over 2,000 bills submitted in the Legislature, it makes your head swim at how such a small state can be so over governed by a Party who is for smaller Government.

Just shake my head and hope in November of this year, we can start to take the State of Oklahoma back to Common Sense!

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