Democrats to ignore tax cuts until state funds basic needs
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Thursday, January 24, 2013
1/24/13 at 4:42 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - House and Senate Democrats vowed Wednesday to oppose any tax cut proposal until core government services, including education, are funded.
Gov. Mary Fallin is proposing a modest reduction in the state income tax, which is currently 5.25 percent, she said Wednesday. Efforts last session to reduce the income tax fell apart, despite strong rhetoric from Republicans calling for it.
Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature and the Governor's Office. Democrats saw their numbers further erode in the November elections.
Fallin said her proposed tax cut will be paid for with a portion of the $170 million the state is expected to have in growth revenue during the next year.
She said it will not be tied to the elimination of tax credits and incentives.
A source close to the governor said the proposed reduction will be less than 1 percentage point.
House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said his caucus will oppose any proposed bond issues for things such as repairing the Capitol until tax cuts are taken off the table.
Inman said that money should be spent on restoring cuts that previously were made to state agencies and programs, such as common education.
House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said he favors a pay-as-you-go funding plan for improvements to the state's infrastructure.
Shannon said tax cuts raise the economy but must be balanced with funding core government services.
"You can go too deep too quickly," he said.
In addition, Shannon said the state needs to be prepared to handle a reduction in federal dollars as Congress tries to reduce the nation's spending.
Senate Minority Leader Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, said the state has many needs, such as increasing funding for education, increasing pay for state employees and fixing the crumbling state Capitol.
He said talks of cutting taxes are a waste of time.
"We are in no position to decrease revenue," Burrage said.
Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said the tax cut conversation will resume where it left off last year.
Bingman said more money needs to be spent on common education to pay for reforms enacted in recent years.
All five spoke Wednesday during a legislative forum organized by The Associated Press.
Original Print Headline: Democrats say tax cuts ignore state's needs
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465