BY LISA MONAHAN
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma - With the state facing a more than $600 million budget shortfall, some are criticizing an upcoming tax cut.
It's estimated to save the average middle-income family $31 a year, but nearly 100 corporate leaders and nonprofit agencies said now's not the right time and sent a letter to the governor and lawmakers calling for immediate action.
Oklahoma PTA Board member Lori Wathen is one of dozens in support of the letter the Oklahoma Policy Institute delivered to Governor Mary Fallin and legislative leaders this week.
“I do not feel like they are listening to us. They are not listening to the citizens of Oklahoma, and they need to,” she said.
The letter calls on them to postpone the income tax cut set to take effect in January.
The tax cut, approved by the legislature last year, will drop the top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent.
The cut is expected to cost the state $57 million in the next fiscal year, and approximately $147 million every year after that.
With key state services and agencies having taken cuts for several years now, and the state facing a $611 million budget shortfall next year, Wathen and others feel the tax cut is irresponsible.
“The well is going dry, we cannot keep going to that well. We have to fund these services with public money,” Wathen said.
We wanted to ask Fallin if she's considered the concerns but she said she was in the middle of negotiations.
Although she declined to answer our questions, her staff sent us a statement, saying, in part, "No one currently involved in budget negotiations...is considering delaying the tax cut."...and she feels it's a responsible, measured cut with a minimal impact.
Wathen said, for the amount the tax cut will save the average family, it's not worth it.
“Personally, if I get that tax cut, I'm writing a check back to the state of Oklahoma,” she said.