OCPA

Small: Misleading statements by Osborn, Boren are harmful

Free Market Friday: Misleading statements harmful
Former House Appropriations and Budget Chair Leslie Osborn recently stated Oklahoma is “50th in the nation in tax collections.” Calling for more tuition and fee increases on working Oklahoma families, University of Oklahoma President David Boren made a similar dead-last claim regarding state support for higher education.

Despite Boren’s claims, the actual data show that Oklahoma ranks 31st in total state support for higher education. When adjusted for cost of living, on a per capita basis Oklahoma actually ranks 26th in state support for higher education.

Just as the actual data contradict President Boren’s claim, the undisputed data from the United States Census Bureau contradict Rep. Osborn’s statements, proving that we are far from being the lowest-taxed state.

Regarding Osborn’s assertion, the actual data show Oklahoma is not 50th in the nation. According to the latest available data from the Census Bureau, Oklahoma collects more in state taxes than Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Thus, Oklahoma ranks 31st, not 50th. Per capita, Oklahoma ranks 38th in tax collections. When adjusted for cost of living, Oklahoma ranks 36th in per capita tax collections.

What’s really astonishing is that the state managed to collect this level of revenue despite being in a recession while most states were not. Oklahoma lost 21,800 energy and manufacturing jobs, resulting in a loss of more than $13 billion in taxable income. Oklahomans reduced purchases subject to sales tax and use tax to the tune of $4.1 billion just to survive, according to available Oklahoma Tax Commission data. Given this, state government should not complain, and Oklahomans should be thanked for their sacrifice.

Throughout the 2017 legislative session, tax consumers tried to get lawmakers and the public to support more than $2 billion in tax increases. Despite these attempts, no tax increases were constitutionally passed by the Legislature.

It’s understandable why tax consumers are working so hard to get taxpayers to believe the 50th and dead-last mantra: They want Oklahomans to be in the psychological condition to support and accept massive tax increases.

While I believe Rep. Osborn cares about Oklahoma, misleading statements from public officials such as Osborn and Boren are harmful to efforts to find viable, long-term solutions.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (www.ocpathink.org). This column originally ran in the Journal Record.

OCPA announces intent to file Supreme Court challenge of income tax increase

OCPA announces intent to file Supreme Court challenge of income tax increase
OKLAHOMA CITY (May 22, 2017) – Today, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed House Bill 2403 by a vote of 56 to 40. The bill would restrict itemized deductions in order to increase personal income tax collections by more than $101 million annually.

Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, issued the following statement after today’s vote on HB 2403:

“House Bill 2403 is an unconstitutional tax hike on working Oklahoma families and senior citizens. Should House Bill 2403 become law, we intend to challenge its constitutionality at the Oklahoma Supreme Court as a violation of State Question 640.

“House Bill 2403 is designed to raise revenue for state government, but it passed the state House of Representatives with far less than a three-fourths vote. This makes it a blatant violation of Oklahoma’s Constitution, suggesting our state’s highest Court would strike it down.

“This bill is an income tax increase of over $101 million a year that targets Oklahomans who own a home with a mortgage, who pay property taxes that support local schools and other services, or who are being crushed by heavy medical bills.

OCPA Offers Balanced Budget Plan with a Teacher Pay Raise

With just over a week until the end of the regular legislative session, some lawmakers have proposed massive tax increases, including a plan to cap personal itemized deductions that would dramatically increase personal income taxes on many Oklahoma families and small businesses.

OCPA released today a budget plan to fill Oklahoma’s $878 million budget gap and give teachers a pay raise—while respecting and protecting Oklahoma families and their own budgets.

The balanced budget plan proposed by OCPA includes more than $1.3 billion in savings—including items from OCPA’s “Freedom Agenda” published in January and “First Steps” list released in February—and $337 million in tax increases, including an increase in the tax on gasoline and diesel, a 67-cent per pack cigarette tax increase, and a wind production tax. Together, the lower spending and increased taxes add up to nearly $1.7 billion.

OCPA's England: Was It Legal to Drain Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund?

Trent England – OCPA Vice President for Strategic Initiatives

Gov. Mary Fallin’s administration has drained Oklahoma’s Constitutional Reserve Fund, often called the Rainy Day Fund. Executive branch officials spent all $240 million from the Fund to pay the state’s monthly bills rather than declare a larger or additional revenue shortfall. Whether or not this was good budget policy, was it legal?

Can the executive branch spend money from the Constitutional Reserve Fund at will, so long as they promise to repay those funds before the end of the fiscal year? Here is a look at the law.

Oklahoma’s Constitutional Reserve Fund is established and governed by the Oklahoma Constitution, section 23 of Article 10. The section creates the framework for the state’s budget process and begins as follows:

OCPA: A Public Letter to State Lawmakers

A Public Letter to State Lawmakers
Dear Lawmaker:

In the past few days a number of memos, emails and letters have been distributed regarding solutions to Oklahoma’s current budget challenge.

This is a sensitive time when well-intended people on all sides of the argument are working hard to create a satisfactory solution to a complex situation. You are to be congratulated and thanked for your service and willingness to tackle these difficult issues.

OCPA Responds to Sec. Doerflinger, Calls for Honesty in Budget Debate

  State Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger this week “applauded” and then cast doubt on OCPA’s most recent budget recommendations. Secretary Doerflinger wrote, “OCPA calculates its savings as $413 million, but the majority of those savings go in the category of cost avoidance, not revenue creation.” In other words, Sec. Doerflinger conveys a clear preference for increasing taxation as opposed […]

Fallin Dismisses OCPA's Budget Solutions - Likes Raising Taxes Better

Preston Doerflinger of the OMES said;”..the savings are mostly cost avoidance and would not generate revenue to pay for the next budget.”.​  The McCarville Report just published a response for Governor Mary Fallin and The OMES, regarding the ideas put forward by the conservative thinktank.   The most obvious weakness in the OMES response  is that they show that they aren’t interested in cutting spending. Inst […]