Oklahoma Democrats Call Proposed Tax Cuts 'Irresponsible'

Friday, May 18th 2012, 6:28 pm
By: News On 6

We could soon pay less in taxes. The Governor and legislative leaders announced a proposal Thursday night to cut the personal tax rate.

It was a compromise from the original plan, yet some lawmakers are outraged. House Democrats are calling the proposed tax cut "irresponsible."

05/17/2012 Related Story: Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Lawmakers Agree On Tax Cut

They say any tax cut after budget cuts that have crippled state agencies is a bad move. Cutting the state income tax must be a priority

Governor Mary Fallin says Oklahoma families will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money. But democrats say reducing revenue is downright reckless.

"I think it's very, very dangerous," Senator Sean Burrage said.

Claremore Democrat Sean Burrage says even though Republicans have promised there won't be cuts to programs like education under the changes, cuts to critical programs are unavoidable.

"There's a cut, because education costs - they are subject to inflation, they're subject to increased transportation costs, they're subject to increased health care costs," Burrage said.

The proposal drops the top tax rate from 5.25 percent to 4.8 percent and affects anyone making more than $7,500 a year.

It also eliminates four of the seven tax brackets. While some Oklahomans may pay less, some will pay more.

"It concerns me a lot because while It's a tax cut on the top earners, it's actually a tax increase to the low income earners in the state of Oklahoma," Burrage said.

Governor Fallin says the new rate will be a recruitment tool.

"Bringing the best jobs to Oklahoma will require us to have one of the most competitive business environments," Governor Fallin said.

But area Chambers of Commerce say income tax rates don't compare to education and workforce when it comes to business recruitment.

"It's not really a big thing that's discussed, unless you have zero state income tax," Mike Neal, Tulsa Metro Chamber, said. "If you have zero state income tax, then it's a nice little nugget to have."

The proposal amounts to $218 million in individual tax cuts by 2014.

The Governor says lost revenue will be partially offset by tax reforms, like eliminating 33 tax credits, eliminating certain deductions and eliminating the personal exemption for certain single and joint filers.