Anyone who follows the Oklahoma government knows that our state revenues are extremely sensitive to boom and bust cycles. A volatile revenue base, combined with decades of tax cuts by lawmakers, has left Oklahoma ill-prepared to provide essential shared services to its residents. Our friends and neighbors who feel the most impact – and comparatively bear the greatest share of the tax burden – are the ones who can least afford it.
Over the past two decades, Oklahoma lawmakers have cut state government spending by 22% (adjusted for inflation and population growth). This means that, each year, our elected officials and decision-makers have less money to meet the needs of today or to invest in the future success of our state – about $ 2.1 billion less per year. latest. Our current tax structure also requires lower and middle class taxpayers to pay a higher share of their income than wealthier Oklahoma residents. These tax policy choices contribute to and perpetuate inequalities based on race, ethnicity, gender and location, making it harder for historically marginalized groups to catch up and move forward.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
This week my organization published âA Better Path Forward,â a comprehensive analysis of Oklahoma’s budget and tax systems. It shows where we are, how we got here and what the impacts are on the people of Oklahoma on a daily basis. More importantly, however, he analyzed over 30 possible budget and tax reforms that can bolster state revenues while bringing more fairness to the tax system.
Our intention with this report is to spark a bipartisan conversation about how we can make our state’s budget and tax systems work for all Oklahomans. I would like to thank those who agreed to participate and share their bipartisan views at Wednesday’s launch event, including Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn; Chief Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin Jr.; Senator John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton; Cynthia Rogers, professor of economics at the University of Oklahoma; and report authors Paul Shinn and Emma Morris of OK Policy staff. For those who missed it, the report and a video of the event are available on the OK Policy website.
We intentionally described our report as a roadmap to strengthen the state’s fiscal and fiscal systems. As any traveler knows, a map doesn’t dictate your way. It only shows the possible routes that a traveler can take to get to their destination.
Likewise, we’re not saying these are the definitive solutions to fixing shortcomings in Oklahoma’s budget and tax system. But, it shows how we can move forward.
Ahniwake Rose is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Institute of Politics.