Whose fault?Blaming Oklahomas more than $1 billion budget shortfall exclusively on the oil bust is seriously misleading. What about the series of income tax cuts passed by the Oklahoma Legislature and supported by Gov. Mary Fallin, which slashed funding for core public services by almost one-fourth? Surely, systematically cutting that amount of revenue is a factor in not having enough tax dollars to pay for services.
Oklahomas top tax rate dropped from 6.65 percent before 2004 to 5 percent beginning in 2016 with an annual revenue loss of $1.022 billion from tax cuts alone, according to analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The pre-approved tax cut scheduled for 2018 would lower the top rate again to 4.85 percent, adding an additional $100 shortfall to the annual cost of tax cuts.
Meanwhile, the wealthiest Oklahomans are taking their tax savings to the bank. The poorest Oklahomans dont pay taxes anyway. That leaves low and middle-income families like mine to shoulder the tax burden while struggling with low wages, anemic job opportunities and ever-increasing costs of living.
Republican leaders promised tax cuts would boost the states economy and create thousands of new jobs. Well, where are they?
Red Goldfarb Bethany
Dental solutionsI think its nice that dentists are donating some services for those particularly impacted by our third-world dental care system (News, Dental solutions, Laura Eastes, Jan. 27, Oklahoma Gazette). Ill believe they are sincere in wanting to help the poor when they march up to the state Legislature and demand a little free market in dental care by relinquishing their monopoly on dentures so that denturists could fit and sell dentures directly to the public.
Of all the dental services that poor people need, dentures (full and partials) are among the hardest for poor people to find. Because of the dental monopoly, the price of dentures is inflated over what a free market in dentures would offer.
So, as long as they hide behind their legal monopoly, Im not impressed the least little bit by their Missions of Mercy. While I am sure that individual dentists are wonderful, kind and Christian (or Jewish, Islamic, Hindu or Buddhist) people, as a profession, they are rent-seeking economic aristocrats who prefer to see people suffer without care than to give up even the tiniest slice of their profitable, legally protected monopoly.
Bob Waldrop Oklahoma City
Kiowa SixI am a non-Indian lover of Indian art and reader of the Gazette since the early days. This article is superb, from my point of view, particularly for completing the story of the Kiowa Six and Lois Smoky as told by Ms. Satepauhoodle-Mikkanen (Visual Arts, Artful evolution, Wilhelm Murg, Feb. 17, Gazette). The article is good and important to the Indian world in general, and the Indian art world should require it to be circulated.
Barry Benefield Oklahoma City
Median deathSusan Schmidts letter (Opinion, Letters to the Editor, Free speech, Jan. 27, Gazette) about the median ordinances limiting free speech and assembly is a good example of how Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and America is chipping away at our liberties and protections in the interests of a few rich and powerful individuals and groups.
I dont like panhandlers who wear better shoes and drive better cars than me, but if they want to make more money than me looking like fools in the cold and heat, just dont expect my handout.
I give at church. I serve and support in many other ways. I may decide I want to stand on the median and hold a sign that asks, Why are we talking about wasting millions on a Native American museum that could be funded by casinos, or building parks, or making downtown and the river more beautiful, or giving great benefits to politicians and school superintendents instead of paying teachers better, fixing potholes or building parking space so our veterans can get to their VA appointments on time? That is my right.
This is one more reason why Donald Trump is so popular. Reasonable citizens hope he will use common-sense economic principles to evaluate and cut or fund reasonable, prioritized spending while honoring basic constitutional principles and laws.
America and Oklahoma are about to mismanage their liberty and economy out of existence. America was known for liberty; now we are known for media porn, gambling, killing babies, sexual perversion and corrupt politicians and businessmen.
Michael Moberly Oklahoma City
Common-sense answersOklahoma has a deficit. This deficit exists because our Legislature is not just anti-government; it is anti-governing. It has followed the pattern launched by Republicans since Reagan to make sure government doesnt work, thus making the private sector the only solution to everything.
Why? I think the why has been forgotten; now it is just in the DNA. This unthinking approach toward governance is ingrained, surviving on constant reinforcement (i.e., Fox, The Oklahoman, hate for Obama, etc.).
Success isnt even important to continue the mantra. The failure of our states finances cannot have anything to do with our methods. The stunning failure to prepare for a rainy day does not spark a single thought about the course we are on. Taxes: bad, bad; private industry left alone: good, good. Its in the Bible, somewhere.
No knowledgeable espouser of capitalism thinks it can exist without regulation. The planets best-developed engine of economic growth cannot arrive at its destination without mishap if it has no one at the wheel. State government has locked the wheel in place and gone back to the dining car to cook red meat over a coal-fired stove.
Heres what we could have done:
One: Dont lower taxes. State revenue is more than $1 billion lower per annum than it would be without the last decades tax cuts. Neglected by our budget, education now seeks a 1 percent sales tax for education, which is very regressive, and yes, Governor, it is a replacement tax engendered by our tax cuts. It has to come from somewhere in your world, just not from the job creators (rich people).
Two: Charge the fossil fuel industry more at the wellhead. Our traditional 7 percent tax has decreased to 2 percent over the years. Unlike North Dakota, which charges far higher taxes, we did not build up a large reserve fund during the good years. When our legislators say, Not our fault; we cant control energy prices, they show their total lack of vision. They may not be able to control energy prices, but they do control taxes on the industry and the citizens.
Three: Accept the Affordable Care Act. This would have dramatically reduced health costs for the state while improving our populations health. We are paying unnecessarily for health care services because, well, that guy in the White House. Spite is really an essential plank in our governing platform.
Yes, our state government has failed dramatically in our states finances and future.
Clare Woodside Edmond
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