Yet Another Casualty Of OK Tax Aversion

More depressing news from the Sooner state: a backlog at DHS means a backlog of five to eight years on assistance for parents of kids with autism. Understandably, the parents are upset and frustrated. Holes in the state budget mean less money for these essential services. Coupled with the possible closing of the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center, a mental health facility in Paul’s Valley, the budget problems at DHS mean there might soon be nowhere to turn for these families.

Once again, we see the consequences of misplaced priorities concerning the budget. This is what it looks like when taxes are anathema to lawmakers. Gubernatorial candidate Mary Fallin has even proposed doing away with the state income tax. She’s not alone. State lawmakers have long decried OK’s income tax, already one of the lowest in the nation. The argument is that Texas, which does not have an income tax, is luring prospective employers away from Oklahoma. Never mind that Texas ranks near the bottom in many major areas of health. Evidently, Fallin believes this is a system to emulate.

So let’s say we follow Fallin’s advice and abolish state tax. Do you think stories like this will magically go away because Oklahomans have an extra 5% of their income in April? Actually, what it means is that Oklahoma will rely on even more federal dollars than it already does. Despite the shrieks about federal intrusion on states’ rights from the Teabaggers, the truth is that federal dollars keep Oklahoma above water year after year. Anti-government rhetoric sounds good until the bill comes due. Fallin readily admits she has no ideas about alternative revenue sources if the income tax were removed. I wonder if any of illustrious OK press corp will ask her about federal dollars at the next news conference?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: taxes are a vitally necessary part of living in a civil society. We simply cannot maintain vital services without them. I’d wager not many people in OK who insist they are “taxed enough already” are aware that the state rides high on the federal teat. If we could have an adult conversation about what taxes, including state income taxes, mean to families like Wanda Felty’s, then perhaps they might be persuaded to admit that taxes aren’t some giant boondoggle. They allow our society to function. However, I fully expect the conversation to veer towards why we can’t afford a $6.9 million start-up payment to bring grand prix racing to OKC.

Well, gee, I wonder where that money would come from?

(cross-posted on Examiner.com)

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