Archive for the ‘tax increases’ 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.

Robin Hood in Tulsa, Oklahoma City

March 11, 2008

It seems like more and more people are going into the city to do their shopping now days, because of the selection and better prices. This has forced some small retailers in some small towns to lose business, and, in some cases, close. Also, the towns are losing sales tax revenue, because people are spending their money in the city.

So, what to do? Force the big cities to pay 1% of that revenue back to the smaller towns, of course. At least that’s the plan of Steve Martin (R-Bartlesville). If his legislation becomes law, Tulsa and Oklahoma City would stand to lose about $30,000,000 per year in tax revenue, but the cities would still have to foot the bill for the infrastructure to support the retail industries, says Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.

Carolyn Stager, of the Oklahoma City Municipal League, says, “It would create a nightmare of litigation and turn city against city and neighbor against neighbor.”

Oklahoma City votes to Improve the Ford Center

March 5, 2008

The Oklahoman is reporting this evening:

With 201 of 271 precincts reporting, 30,895, or 60.5 percent of voters, approved of the proposal to 20,149 against.

The proposal would extend a 1-cent sales tax, which is currently paying for MAPS for Kids. The tax is set to expire at midnight Dec. 31. If the measure passes, the tax would extend through June of 2010, raising about $121 million. About $20 million of that money would pay for a new NBA practice facility.

The rest would go toward improvements at the Ford Center, including decorative floors and walls, new bathrooms and concession areas, restaurants, suites, a family fun zone, NBA locker rooms and offices and a host of other renovations.


With voters giving their approval, the next vote will be in the hands of NBA owners, who are scheduled to meet next month to vote on a proposal by the Seattle SuperSonics’ owners to relocate to Oklahoma City.

The team is leaving Seattle because the city has refused to publicly finance a new arena. (more)

‘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.

Has Brad Henry Promised More than He Can Deliver?

February 5, 2008

Yesterday, Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry gave his sixth State of the State Speech, and, as the Tulsa World reports,

…called for an average teacher pay raise of $1,200, weighted toward
veteran teachers and those with advanced degrees, to bring salaries to the
regional average. The proposal would cost $68.5 million. He also wants a 5
percent pay raise for state employees, at a cost of $65 million for a full

Sounds good. Now, who’s going to pay for that?

According to The Journal Record (emphasis mine, in bold):

According to Henry’s calculations, his proposal would more than pay for itself by increasing efficiencies and otherwise putting state funds to better use, leaving an extra $1 million in state coffers at the end of the fiscal year. The cost of Henry’s proposals would rise in subsequent years, however, due to nearly $190 million in bond issues he recommended.

The state Equalization Board in December certified $7.06 billion available for the Legislature to spend for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The expenditures outlined in Henry’s budget proposal come to $7.32 billion.

Henry is hoping to convince tax payers who are delinquent in their accounts to pay-up by offering them a reduction in the intererest owed, and by publishing a list of delinquent tax payers to shame them into paying. In Henry’s plan, other monies would come from adjustments made to the state workers compensation process, from from various state agencies’ expense accounts, and from bonds.

Translation: The money is coming from the same place ALL government money comes from – you, the Oklahoma taxpayer. In anticipation of objections on both sides of the aisle, Henry is quoted by NewsOK:

We cannot move forward by pushing back,” Henry said. “We must set aside partisan bickering and reactionary politics. The people of Oklahoma have nothing to gain from petty quarrels, and our time is too precious to waste in gridlock. Press releases are short-lived, but cooperation and constructive action resonate for a generation.

Tax Hike Plan Surprises Voters

December 8, 2007

Hat Tip: The Wynn Blog

By John M. Wylie II, Editor

Copyright 2007, Oologah Lake Leader

Northeast Technology Center wants an annual 400% tax increase – $4.4 million a year – but has tried to keep next week’s election on the issue a secret.

Voters in Rogers and seven other counties are scheduled to take part in a special election next Tuesday, Dec. 11, to decide on the proposed increase in NTC’s building fund levy and to decide whether to make the increase permanent.

But until the Leader began an investigation Monday, the election was a well-kept secret – even from top county officials and AEP-Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, which would face a $308,000 hit in Rogers County alone from the higher tax.

PSO customers could eventually pay twice, because such taxes are a factor in setting utility rates.

The NTC board voted on Oct. 1 to call the election but issued no public notice until Nov. 28, school spokesman Gary Fox confirmed Tuesday.

The only announcement made last week was a legal notice in the Pryor Daily Times – the smaller of the two legal newspaper in Mayes county. Neither it nor its larger weekly competitor, The Paper, makes any claim to be a regional newspaper (such as the Tulsa World or The Oklahoman). Read more…