Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb resigned from Gov. Mary Fallin’s cabinet over her current tax increase proposal to fill the next fiscal year’s budget hole.
That sends a rather important message.
Fallin has proposed to remove the sales tax exemption on more than 100 services while also proposing to eliminate a state level sales tax on groceries.
It sounds like a good idea on the surface, but as Lamb stated in his resignation, its poor design will levy an even heavier burden on families and small businesses that will not help Oklahoma get better.
Understandably, the governor’s list of new services to be taxed is a wish list. It is up to the legislature to make the final determinations on which ones go and which ones stay. But I would like to put it out there that some of the items on the list are very worrisome.
Among those items are utilities. Utilities can often be the second or third largest bill in a family’s home behind a rent or mortgage. What good does it do to give relief on a state level sales tax on groceries if you are going to turn around and raise taxes on something that can cost just as much? It feels like a bait and switch.
It is also worth mentioning that the families that this regressive taxation would affect most are those that are on food assistance programs (in 2013, it was estimated to be about 14 percent of Oklahoma households according the the U.S. Census Bureau). They will see no benefit from the grocery tax relief as taxes aren’t levied on those goods that they purchase, and they will only see their monthly expenses go up.
How is a family supposed to get through hard times and grow financially if we keep kicking — or taxing — them when they’re down?
Other examples of particularly burdensome service taxes include medical care, funeral costs and insurance costs.
In regard to the corporate income tax, Fallin stated that “eliminating this tax provides more transparency as it also eliminates the need for the Legislature to pick winners and losers with specific tax credits.”
With the new proposed services taxes, would the state not be picking winners and losers from their own private populous?
I hope one day that our governor will realize that she can’t regressively tax Oklahoma’s way to prosperity.
Reach Matt Moran at 580-482-1221, ext. 2071 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.