The biggest myth that we hear at the capitol (and that is disseminated to the people of Oklahoma) is that regarding the budget, all options are on the table. We have not seen the option of increasing the gross production tax to the regional average which would bring in $690 million. Instead we are capping the standard deduction on the working middle class. Only in Oklahoma!
During the 11 years I have been here, every time a legislator has run a bill with a tax cut that benefits the wealthy and only gives the $60,000/year wage earner $80 back, they say “let’s give their money back to them.” Well today we passed HB2348 by Osborn (R) which caps the standard deduction on the middle class by a vote of 51 to 45. Well now they are taking their money back. Only in Oklahoma!
This week we passed 12 revenue raising measures to add $27.7 million to our budget. They are aircraft registration fees, motor vehicle towing fees, civil action (courtroom) fees, mining fees, electric cars fees, amusements and sports fees, another court fee, used tire fees, revenue and taxation fee for noncompliance, ticket fee for sporting events, fingerprinting fee and we reduced the film credit incentives. These averaged $2.3 million per bill, so now to balance the budget we only need 232 similar bills.
Over the past three years the State of Oklahoma has suffered one to two revenue failures per year. One might ask if we have a balanced budget, how do we keep having “revenue failures?” The answer is those who craft the budget do so on “projections,” not true dollar amounts.
When the projections are not accurate we don’t have the money to pay our bills. A good example is: in 2010 the legislature doubled the fees on vending machines. At the time the state was receiving $3.1 million and the analysts said we would see an increase of up to $8.4 million. Because of the increase in fees, a lot of vending machines were pulled from use and the state of Oklahoma actually collected $2.4 million. If you do that 8 or 10 times you can see how we have a revenue failure.
Also, unused tax credits that are cashed in to the state have a huge effect on the budget. Five of the past 12 months more tax credits were cashed in than corporate tax collected. The corporate tax collections go into our 1017 education fund, which goes to schools. Last year the decline in corporate tax collections cost our schools $34 million.
Over the years our caring attitude and the ability to help our fellow Oklahomans has been labeled as the “Oklahoma Standard.” But are we still helping our fellow Oklahomans? In the waning days of the session there has been a push by House leadership to balance the budget, not by having oil and gas pay their fair share, but on the backs of the working middle class. This continual covering for the oil companies has come to be known at the capitol as the “Oklahoma Oil Standard.” Only in Oklahoma!!
Danny and Lee Baldwin stopped by the office this week. Also had a group of FFA students from Red Oak come by with their Ag teacher, Troy Walker.
It is always good to have folks from home. If you make it to the Capitol, come on by room 504.
Psalm 126:3 The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad!