Income tax cut still a top priority in state
BY World's Editorials Writers
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
12/26/12 at 3:30 AM
State GOP leaders, including the governor and the two most powerful lawmakers, still are pushing tax cuts, but at least they now regularly use terms like "responsible" and "thoughtful" in the same breath. Let's hope that thinking prevails as the legislative session unfolds.
Gov. Mary Fallin pushed a far-reaching proposal last session that would have cut the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 3.5 percent and would also have eliminated some deductions and exemptions to help offset the revenue loss. The proposal was not adopted, though, primarily because lawmakers couldn't reach agreement on which tax breaks to eliminate.
This session, Fallin said she won't push cuts "to the extent that we were looking at last year" because of the fiscal uncertainty at the federal level, but still plans to float a proposal.
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, continues to call for a "responsible" approach to cutting taxes, and told The Associated Press his top legislative objective will be reform of the state workers' compensation system.
Incoming House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said an income tax cut is "certainly a high priority, probably one of the highest," but added that any cut "has to be balanced against a commitment to core government services."
Most GOP leaders profess to such a commitment, but the problem has been that what they say is not what they do - at least in the view of advocates who would like to see adequate funding levels restored to such core services as education, public safety and health care. These critical core services have experienced budget cuts in recent years that were so severe they haven't been able to bring back much-needed programs and personnel.
One factor fueling the tax-cut talk is the estimate of state revenues showing the state might bring in about $214 million more in the coming fiscal year, which would mean there will be about $7 billion to spend on next year's budget.
That's good news, but it doesn't mean we are well, financially speaking. That sum won't go far when it comes to funding schools and prisons and clinics.
One legislative leader said he expects there to be as many as a dozen tax-cut proposals before lawmakers in the coming session. We've got to hope - we've got to insist - that lawmakers follow through on their promise to be thoughtful, responsible and committed.
Original Print Headline: Talking taxes