Archive for the ‘Tax Cuts’ Category

Gumm Says "Come Home to Oklahoma" Proposal Means Higher Taxes for Current Oklahomans

April 14, 2008

A rural leader with a successful background in economic development says a tax break for newcomers is a “backwards way” to grow rural Oklahoma.

Senator Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant), said proposed amendments to the bill intended to help bring the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City would create a “grossly unfair” tax scheme in which current residents of the state pay more income tax than newcomers.

The proposal, advocated by some rural legislators, is called the “Come Home to Oklahoma” bill, and would give a five-year income tax exemption to people who move into some rural areas from another state and buy or build a home there. Under the proposal, individuals who already live in Oklahoma would continue to pay their full income tax bills:

I do not know how any leader can look his or her constituents in the eye and tell them they should pay more tax than someone who just arrived in Oklahoma. We ought to call this the ‘Oklahomans Pay More Taxes’ bill. It is unfair, potentially unconstitutional, and nothing short of a ‘deal-breaker’ for me.

Gumm is the former executive director of the Durant chamber of commerce. According to records from the last five years, Durant has attracted a higher percentage of new jobs than any community in Oklahoma. The experience of his hometown, he said, shows the newcomers’ tax break does not make sense from an economic development standpoint. He added:

While we need an adequate workforce to attract business and industry, jobs rarely follow people; people follow jobs. If we attract residents to these areas before there are jobs for them, then the problem this idea attempts to solve is made even worse.

Gumm said a better way to encourage rural legislators to support the “Sonics” bill is to make a significant investment in rural Oklahoma’s infrastructure. One way to do that would be through the Rural Economic Action Program, which provides grant money to small communities for economic development and infrastructure improvements:

It is woefully under funded at only $15 million annually. Pumping an additional $20 or $30 million into REAP, spread across the state to deserving communities, stands a better chance of growing small town economies.

It doesn’t matter how many people move to rural Oklahoma if the infrastructure is not adequate and there are no jobs. Build the infrastructure, create the jobs and the people will come.

In a recent edition of Gumm’s regular column to his constituents, the lawmaker wrote the idea behind the “Come Home to Oklahoma Act” was noble, but that proposal is “as patently unfair” as any bill he has ever seen. Gumm

Tax policy says who we are and who we value. This wrong-headed proposal says we value newcomers more than we do the people who have already invested in our state. I cannot and will not support any plan to puts lesser value and higher taxes on the people I represent.

Also see: Come Home to Oklahoma (Please? We’ll Give you a Tax Break)

Congress’s Fiscal Ratings Drop Closer to All-Time Low, Nonpartisan Scorecard from Nation’s Largest Taxpayer Group Shows

April 9, 2008

(Alexandria, Va.) — The multi-year decline of lawmakers’ pro-taxpayers scores under Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate entered a nosedive in 2007 with a new Democratic majority, according to the National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU) 29th annual Rating of Congress. The scorecard, the only one to utilize every roll call vote affecting tax, spending, and regulatory issues, was based on a record 609 votes — 427 in the House and 182 in the Senate. NTU President Duane Parde said:

Despite campaign-trail promises from many Members of Congress to put Washington on a stricter diet, our 2007 Rating shows that, by and large, the only things shrinking on Capitol Hill are lawmakers’ pro-taxpayer scores. Overburdened taxpayers looking for an end to ‘earmarked’ spending, an extension of President Bush’s tax cuts, and an honest entitlement reform plan won’t like what they see in Congress’s performance so far.

Between 2006 and 2007, the average “Taxpayer Score” in the House fell from 39 percent to 35 percent. The Senate’s average plummeted by 11 points, from 48 percent to 37 percent. This spiral takes scores closer to the all-time low (in 1988) of 27 percent and 28 percent, respectively, for the House and Senate. The highest marks were reached in 1995, when House and Senate averages were 58 percent and 57 percent, respectively.

Even though 2007’s overall results were not the worst in the Rating’s history, several other dubious records were achieved last year, including the lowest score ever (1 percent) and the largest number of single-digit scores (over 200 in the House and Senate). The latter result produced the lowest median scores (not averages) in the history of the Rating, and reflects tremendous political polarization between fiscally liberal lawmakers and the rest of Congress.

In 2007, only 52 lawmakers attained scores sufficient for a heavily “curved” grade of “A” (at least 85 percent in the House and 80 percent in the Senate) and hence were eligible for the “Taxpayers’ Friend Award” — a drop from the 61 who earned top grades in 2006. Meanwhile, 266 Senators and Representatives captured the title of “Big Spender” for posting “F” grades (again, heavily curved at 16 percent or less in the House and 14 percent or less in the Senate) — a significant jump from the 224 biggest spenders in 2006.

Unlike those of other organizations, NTU’s annual Rating does not simplistically focus on a handful of equally weighted “key votes,” but every roll call vote affecting fiscal policy — appropriations, authorization, and tax bills; budget target resolutions; amendments; and certain procedural votes that could affect the burden on taxpayers. For this reason, it has received praise from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including former Sen. William Proxmire (D-WI), creator of the “Golden Fleece Award.” A Member of Congress’s “Taxpayer Score” reflects his or her commitment to reducing or controlling federal spending, taxes, debt, and regulation.

For the fifth consecutive year, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was the top scorer in the House with a 96 percent rating — bringing him one year closer to Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) record of six first-place finishes from 1979 to 1984. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) captured first place in the Senate for the second year in a row with a 93 percent rating. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) received the worst score in the Rating’s nearly 30-year history: 1 percent. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) was the biggest spender in the Senate with a 3 percent rating.

The NTU scorecard can also be used to show which Democratic and Republican Members of Congress fell the furthest in their relative ranking from 2006 to 2007. Among Democrats, they are Rep. William Jefferson (LA), who dropped 156 slots in the House ranking, and Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY), who declined 30 steps in Senate rank. Rep. Tom Petri (WI) slipped the most among GOP House Members (75 places) while Sen. John Sununu (NH) lost 20 steps in Senate Republican rank. In 2005, Sununu was the upper chamber’s top scorer.

The Rating likewise provided clues to how Republicans, now in the minority, responded to their 2006 drubbing at the polls. House GOP Members seemed to have taken the election results as a referendum on their declining fiscal discipline, as the average pro-taxpayer score rose nine points to 69 percent. Senate Republicans, however, didn’t seem to get the same memo. Their average fell nine points to 66 percent in 2007. Democrats in both chambers saw drops in average scores: 16 percent to 6 percent in the House and 15 percent to 8 percent in the Senate.

Presidential candidates Sens. Clinton and Barack Obama (D-IL) saw significant decreases in their pro-taxpayer scores between 2006 and 2007: 17 percent to 3 percent and 16 percent to 5 percent, respectively. In 2007, however, scores for both Senators were based on less than three-fourths of the weighted total of votes cast. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), was not issued a score this year because he voted on less than half of the weighted total of votes cast. In 2006, he earned a score of 88 percent.

Among state delegations, South Carolina Senators turned in the highest average score (87 percent) while Idaho topped out in the House at 69 percent. On the other end of the scale, Hawaii posted the worst averages for both chambers, at 3 percent in the Senate and 4 percent in the House. No other state’s delegations have ended up in the cellar on the NTU Rating as many times as Hawaii. Parde:

Based on the latest NTU Rating results, the 110th Congress as a whole seems intent on moving the cause of taxpayers back 20 years, to a point when lawmakers voted barely one-fourth of the time to reduce or control the size of government. The burden of taxes and deficit spending is too heavy on our economy and our families, a plight that Washington should stop making worse with careless fiscal policy.

The 362,000-member NTU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels. Note: The 2007 Rating and a searchable Rating database from 1992 to 2007 is available at

More Oklahoma information on Oklahoma’s Representatives and Senators can be found here.

Come Home to Oklahoma (Please? We’ll Give you a Tax Break)

March 11, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY — A measure to attract residents to rural Oklahoma passed the full House on Monday.

House Bill 1678, the “Come Home to Oklahoma Act”, by state Rep. Jeff Hickman (R-Fairviw), would provide a five-year income tax exemption to anyone moving from out of state to a rural city or county in Oklahoma which has been losing population.

To qualify for the exemption, the new resident would have to purchase or build a single-family home in one of the 48 counties, or 43 cities in the remaining 29 counties, which have lost population since either the 1940 census or the 1990 census. This timeframe captures areas of Oklahoma which had significant population losses after either the Industrial Revolution or the oil bust.

Hickman said the measure is a key to spurring rural population growth and economic development:

This would be a great tool as we work to bring rural Oklahoma what it needs more than anything else…people. The increased property and sales tax revenues created as new residents move to Oklahoma will more than make up for the impact of the exemption. This positive impact will benefit the entire state and ensure that rural Oklahoma is part of a thriving state economy rather than a drain.

The incentive could be used to attract professionals from out-of-state such as physicians to underserved rural areas and could also help address shortages in areas such as correctional officers at Oklahoma prisons, many which are located in rural counties:

The best part is this temporary exemption would apply to people who are currently not paying Oklahoma income tax anyway as they are out-of-state residents. They would share our sales and property tax burdens and put customers back in the trade areas of our rural businesses.

Hickman said whether the incentive allows a recent college graduate to come home to Oklahoma for a job that may not pay quite what they were making out-of-state, or it encourages a native Oklahoman to come home upon their retirement, the population growth is good for state revenues:

We even invite Americans who have never called Oklahoma “home” to relocate here and enjoy our wonderful quality of life and low cost-of-living. It is going to take something bold and creative to rebuild rural Oklahoma, but it is a way of life worth saving.

House Bill 1678 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives and now proceeds to the state Senate.

‘The Alliance for Oklahoma’s Future’ Wants you to Pay More Taxes

February 22, 2008

As I was bouncing down Riverside Drive in Tulsa on my way to work today in the center lane, because the right-hand lane going both directions is nearly impassable due to shoddy pothole repair (At least someone had the good taste to finally take those “Progress as Promised” signs!), I heard the same report I’ve been hearing reading over and over in the news that the State’s current budget woes, created by Governor Brad Henry’s and Treasurer Scott Meacham’s recent math error, are the fault of legislation in recent years to cut our taxes.

Then, OKPNS received an e-mail from the “Alliance for Oklahoma’s Future.” Who are they? A complete list of the member ship is here, and the board of directors is here. The names include the AFL-CIO, the CAP of Tulsa, the OK Hospital Organization, the OICA, the Board of Ed, the United Suburban School Association, the American Association of University Professors, the League of Women Voters, Oklahoma Center for Consumer
& Patient Safety, Oklahoma City AFT, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas
and Eastern Oklahoma, Inc., Parent Child Center of Tulsa, Progressive Alliance Foundation, the Oklahoma Nurses Association, and many others – basically, a coalition of groups that operate on OPM (other people’s money).

Anyway, this group has published and distributed an official “study,” which removes the doubt of anyone not really paying attention, that Oklahoma is in dire straits, and will not be able to continue operating schools and jails if we don’t start paying more in taxes. (See Tax Cuts and Consequences, by David Blatt). Apparently you are urged to immediately add your organization to the list of organizations that oppose TABOR, and make a donation to the Alliance.

Okaaaay. How much of our taxpayer money is funding the organizations represented by the associations on this list?

Even Governor Henry indicated in his State of the State speech recently that the way to balance the budget is by “increasing efficiencies and otherwise putting state funds to better use.” Indeed.

Lawmakers should be ‘prudent’ with spending, tax cuts, Meacham says

January 7, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY — State lawmakers should be conservative in their spending and in their plans to additionally reduce taxes, the state’s top budget official said Sunday.

State Treasurer Scott Meacham — who also serves as Gov. Brad Henry’s cabinet secretary for revenue and finance — urged lawmakers to hold the line on spending increases and new tax cuts during the upcoming legislative session until officials know how the latest round of tax reductions and spending will affect the state’s revenue picture.

The Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes in February.

“Our rate of growth has slowed significantly,” Meacham said. “And prudence dictates we don’t make a lot more commitments; both on revenue reduction and expenditures in this environment.”

Read More