Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

June 5, 2013

Tax cut? Don’t bet the farm

TAHLEQUAH — Oklahoma taxpayers who think Gov. Mary Fallin did them a favor by signing into law the new tax cut measure ought to do a little math, and then think again. As usual, the state’s playing that ages-old game known as “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Some folks might see an average of about $82 per year on their individual returns, the Oklahoma Tax Commission says. But don’t bet on it; these things never pan out as advertised, and we’re pretty sure most Tahlequah residents won’t benefit. Besides, some of the savings will be offset by increased fees Fallin also signed off on.

The worst offense, as far as the huge numbers of Oklahomans living below the poverty level are concerned, is the $12 increase for a standard driver’s license. The excuse given for this hike is that those of us seeking renewal will have a shorter wait in line. Don’t bet on that one, either.

Democrats in the Legislature are right to question the hypocrisy of this back-door method of padding the state budget – though some of them, of course, are also guilty of hypocrisy.

Senate Minority Leader Sean Burrage, of Claremore, put it this way: “Proponents of a tax cut say they want more money in the pockets of Oklahomans while taking it out of the other pockets for fees.” And Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, pointed out most of the people in his district won’t benefit from the tax cut, though they’ll be hit with higher fees.

Even Republican House Speaker T.W. Shannon seemed perplexed by the increased fees, which he says have gone up by about $100 million since 2007. He says he tried to ban this type of back-door taxing, but somehow, though a bill tamping down fee increases passed both the House and Senate, it was never sent to Fallin.

This means fees agencies charge for services can continue to rise – and rest assured, they will do just that.

Local Republicans – like party official Michael Stopp – are curious about that bill, too. Whose job is it, they ask, to get these bills onto the governor’s desk?

If you’re thinking no one’s being fooled by this maneuvering, you’d be wrong. Some of the shady legislators who voted for the tax cut will be able to go back home and tell their constituent they did that, and while the constituents are pumping their fists into the air and shouting “hallelujah!” about extra money that will never materialize on their paychecks, the legislators in question will quietly avoid mentioning the fee hikes and hope no one notices.

Some won’t notice. Others will, but they won’t say anything. They’ll just hope everything works out in the end, or blame some other politician they don’t like – one from the opposite political party, perhaps, or one who’s been caught up in sexual peccadilloes or some other scandal.

And by the way, another thing you don’t want to bet on is the validity of Fallin’s rationale that the state tax cuts will offset some of the tax hikes foisted upon us by the federal government. In the first place, no “new” taxes have been imposed on the vast majority of U.S. taxpayers; some temporarily tax “holidays” passed by both the Bush and Obama administrations have simply been allowed to lapse because, guess what? Most of the doom-criers in the Beltway want to get rid of the deficit in five easy pieces, and they’re willing to resort to extreme levels of austerity to do it.

Sure, some Oklahomans will tuck a few extra bucks into their wallets when all is said and done. But at what cost to the state? To our education system? To our state parks? To the health of our children? To our state employees – who, after all, are our friends and family members?

We hope folks will let us know when they see that big savings roll in, and they’ll let us know what they bought with it. A new dress, a couple of cartons of cigarettes, or if it’s on sale, a drill bit set? Was it worth it?

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Editorials
  • Priorities on public school spending may be skewed in Oklahoma

    There’s no question that public schools in Cherokee County boast some good administrators. Innovative programming, cutting-edge technology, creative spending strategies and successful students are among their hallmarks. But when comparing their salaries side-by-side with those of teachers, who establish the firm foundation of our children’s futures, it also appears some administrators may be overpaid.

    August 1, 2014

  • Tourism Council and chamber should cut the proverbial cord

    They are defined by two separate purposes and operate under two distinctive sets of bylaws, but years of conflicting opinions have left lingering questions and confusion over the relationship between the decades-old Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the younger Tahlequah Area Tourism Council.

    July 30, 2014

  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

Poll

Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
Undecided.
     View Results
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