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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Barking Out of Both Sides of His Mouth

Bob Hope, king of the one-liners, once claimed that Lassie was planning on running for public office. "She's learning to bark out of both sides of her mouth," he quipped.

Our own political dog, House Speaker Todd Hiett has learned to woof it both ways. Recently, the state finance director informed the Board of Equalization that Oklahoma revenues estimated to increase 12.9% above the 2005 fiscal year. Hiett barked, ere, said that we should hold the line on spending so as to not make committments we could fulfill in the future.He is right with this. The present boost in revenues is due to increases in oil and gas revenue, and we have learned through hard experience how what is given to us by the oil patch one year can be taken away the next.

However, from the other side of his muzzle Hiett then said that the state should committ itself to "permanent tax relief" through income tax reductions and the elimination of the estate tax, which affects only estates of the ultra rich in Oklahoma. Great move, Todd, this will only asssure us that when the next downturn hits us, as it inevitably will, we will be worse off than we ever were before.

We really aren't having all that much of a boom in Oklahoma. We are really only just now climbing out of the doldrums we have been in since near the beginning of this century. As Senate leader Mike Morgan wisely said, "[I]t is important that we move forward responsibly and take great care as we consider how best to invest this one-time windfall to ensure a brighter future for our state."

Todd, you can't have it both ways. Both permanent spending and permanent revenue reductions are bad for Oklahoma.


Brooke said...

Thank You for visiting my blog :o)
I always like having visitors.

Molly said...

It is good to know there are Democrats in Oklahoma. We have a few in Indiana; however the Repuplicans are running the sate for now.

Molly said...

Make that Republicans... unless you like Repooplicans better.

Lynn Green said...

Usually I use Repugicans or just Repugs. Yes, there are those of us who have not gone over to the Dark Side. When people ask me why I am a Democrat, I simply tell them, "My father taught me never to fight on the side of Goliath."

Wheeli said...

When taxes are lowered, it creates an economic climate which encourages job creation, which in turn brings more tax revenue. thus lowering taxes actually makes more money for the state.

Wheeli said...

Oh and rich people create jobs, so lowering their taxes makes the most sense. Ever tried to get a job from a poor person?

Lynn Green said...

When revenues are cut, social services suffer so that the poor families are denied their basic human rights. We are coming to a point in this country where we are two Americas: those who wealth is protected by corporate socialism and the rest who wages are the entire basis for our revenues. You cannot morally balance the budget on the backs of working families.

Wheeli said...

I work for a Social Service Agency with the State, I am very aware of the way cut backs can impact the services we provide. I also have seen first hand how we enable people instead of empowering them. We spend too much money on programs that keep people dependant, instead of programs would help them up out of their situation. If we actually find ways to raise people out of Poverty, like creating more jobs, then we will not need to spend as much on the Services we provide.

Lynn Green said...

Well, that would work if tax cuts actually helped produced American jobs, but you see what is happening. High wage jobs are being taken out of this country and been exported to places where wages and benefits are at a race to the bottom. Sorry, the argument that tax cuts leads to jobs is a myth of the right wing.

Wheeli said...

In the 1980's taxes were low and the economy was the best it had ever been, and when taxes were low businesses did not send jobs overseas because they could compete here.
The problem with the 80's was for every extra dollar brought in the Government spent $1.50. Then in the 90's taxes were raised, and businesses started sending job's overseas to get away from the taxes. When a Business is taxed they don't pay the taxes, they pass the increase on to their Customers, so their Customers end up paying double taxes. When taxes are lowered then businesses can afford to pay higher wages to their employees. Business has to make money in order to continue to create the goods and services the public uses, and it helps businesses to pay good wages, so that people can afford to buy the things they create.

Lynn Green said...

Well, there are at least two fallacies in your argument. The 90's were an economic boom time. In fact, we managed to have budget surpluses that brought us out of the "borrow and spend" 80's until we went back into the "borrow huge amounts and spends more" 00's. We recreated jobs, manufacturing jobs in the 90's.

The second is the problem particular to Oklahoma. We are currently enjoying increased revenues from increases in the prices for the oil patch. What Hiett and his goons want to do is to give permanent tax breaks to other corporations and from the state income tax, of course, the way they do it always benefits the wealthiest the most. They even talk about making valued added (i.e. sales taxes) the sole source of state revenues. This is the most regressive tax of all.

So you get a little ahead in the oil patch, give it back to the wealthy in income tax reductions, when the oil patch makes its inevitable nose dive, revenues decrease, so what happens? You do the Repug math and balance the state budget (which you must do by law in Oklahoma) on the backs of the poor.

It's the Repug conspiracy to create conservative heaven in Oklahoma which of course is hell for most of the state's population.

Wheeli said...

The 90's were a false boom. Due to the over value of IT Related businesses, it has now been shown that a recession started about 1998, and that most of the gains in the early 90's were a result of the tax cuts in the 80's, it always takes time for the effects of the tax policies to work thru the economy.

As for Oklahoma, we are the most Highly taxed state in the Country. there needs to be a complete restructuring of our tax base.

As for the Republicans being in control. This is the first Time in Oklahoma History that the Republicans have been in control of The One house of our Legislature. The Dems hae been in control since Statehood, and during their reign we had the oil boom and bust, and they did not do a good job of bring a diverse economy to this state, that is a big reason we are in the fix we are in. We are finally starting to bring more business into the State. Maybe the Republicans need a chance to see if they can fix some of the problems caused by over 90 years of Democrat Rule.

Lynn Green said...

I think that many Americans wish they could have the "false" boom we had in the 90's. As for Repugs being in control, the last legislature was an brief demonstration of the sort of "imperial" legislature we have to look forward to if the Repugs get their hands on the reigns of power. King Todd fired many long time staffers. He refused to let anyone have access to his office who were not contributors or party insiders. You may say that this is business as usual, but that's not what the Repugs offered in their pious commercials.

We don't have a high tax base in this state. According to a UCO survey, Oklahoma ranks 41st in the country in state and local taxes per capita (at approximately $1,800 compared to $2300 for the U.S. on average). Since the state's per capita income is lower than the national average, however, a fairer measure for comparing state tax burdens would be to use state and local taxes as a percentage of personal income. By this measure, Oklahoma ranks 35th with an average state and local tax rate of 10.8% of personal income. With regard to specific taxes, Oklahoma is among the lowest in the country in property taxes (ranking 48th in 1992, the most recent year data were available), while Oklahoma's average personal income tax rate of 2.47% approximates the national average.

Son, you need to get a handle on your facts.