Trickle Up, Trickle Down, Trickle All Around - April 8, 2013
State Representative David Perryman
The First Session of the 54th Oklahoma Legislature has metaphorically rounded the turn and is in the home stretch. Three of the more controversial issues that are facing Oklahoma in the coming weeks are the State Income Tax, Workers Compensation Reform, and Federal Health Care. This week we will look at the State Income Tax cut proposed by Governor Fallin.
Will Rogers usually had something to say about issues of the day. His homespun humor was timely, concise and often pointed. Will believed in the ‘American Dream,’ a term coined and defined by James Truslow Adams in his 1931 book ‘The Epic of America.’
It is no coincidence that Adam’s book and Will’s philosophy inspired the members of the working class who were bearing the brunt of the Great Depression. As is usually the case, the poor, the elderly, minorities and the disabled were the first to feel the effects of the depression and the last to regain stability in their lives.
Despite devastating financial hardship, through the promise of the Declaration of Independence that ‘all men are created equal’ hurting men and women saw the United States as a land of opportunity. They saw Will Rogers as a common man who provided an anchor against a daily battering of economic difficulty. They saw America as a beacon of hope for upward mobility.
On November 26, 1932, Will poked fun at the ‘trickle-down theory’ of supply side economics when he wrote in the St. Petersburg Times that, “The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands.”
Ironically, our government has come a full 360 degrees. This session, there is heated debate over whether Oklahoma’s highest income tax bracket should be cut by one-quarter of a percent or a half of a percent or eliminated entirely. The current Senate plan appears to reduce the average filer’s taxes by approximately $40 per year. Of course, higher income taxpayers will recognize a higher savings and lower income taxpayers will not save as much.
Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs) believes that some taxpayers in the middle class may actually see tax increases because of the elimination of certain exemptions and tax credits. Dorman also believes that, if so, the proposal is unconstitutional because it violates State Question 640 adopted in 1992 to the extent that it increases the tax burden of any taxpayer without a vote of the people.
Regardless of whether the Senate plan or the House plan prevails, Will Rogers would have likely sided with Dorman and the Democrats on this issue. With education and corrections and law enforcement and state employee’s salaries all underfunded and roads and bridges and the State Capitol building crumbling and the meager pension plans of public employees needing money and mental health costs being put on the back burner, Will would reiterate, “Give it to the people at the bottom,” through infrastructure, education and other personnel expenditures it will pass through the hands of the people at the bottom and make its way back up to the top in short order.
Cutting government waste is always a noble goal. Cutting taxes when revenues are excessive is prudent and wise. However, denying legitimate governmental needs to curry favor with high income taxpayers is not only dishonest, it is destructive.
Businesses seeking to relocate are not concerned about Oklahoma’s income taxes. They are concerned about the quality of Oklahoma’s educational system, its public schools, its career tech system, its higher education network. They want well trained and educated employees. Businesses seeking to relocate want good roads and bridges and adequate infrastructure for water, sewer and fire protection. Today, 31% of Oklahoma road, bridges and highways are critical or inadequate with regard to safety.
Let’s cut income taxes…as soon as the vital needs of our state are met.
I appreciate the opportunity to serve you as your State Representative. If there is ever anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov
I look forward to seeing you soon.