Tax cut fight is not over — how we could still win

Separate tax cut bills have passed in both the House and Senate, but the debate is far from over. All Democrats and several Republicans have bravely opposed the tax cuts.  We know there are more who would like to do so, but aren’t yet so brave.  Your legislators need to hear from you that cutting taxes even further when we’re already in a budget shortfall is not what they were elected to do!

  • Top Priorities
  • Upcoming events
  • Call to Action

TOK Top Priorities

Protect essential revenues (download the fact sheet)

Bill Watch!: A House tax cut bill passed the full house on March 6th.  Many legislators made compelling debates against the income tax, and those in favor had very little response. Watch the video of the debate here.  

The bill would cut both the top personal income tax rate and the corporate income tax rate in 2016, or as soon as revenues increase after that year. Although the bill passed the House, it was opposed by all of the Democrats and several Republicans. See who voted how here.

The bill now goes to the Senate for review by the Finance Committee.  Now is a good time to contact your senators as well as members of the Finance Committee to tell them that putting tax cuts on auto-pilot could hurt our economy!

Bill Watch!: The Senate’s tax cut bill is next heading to a House Committee. Check here to see who voted how in the Senate so that you can contact your Senator and let them know how you feel about their vote.  Be polite and keep them accountable!  

Your Representatives in both the House and Senate need to know that you don’t approve of these bills.  So few Oklahomans follow these issues that every phone call or letter they receive counts! NOW is a good time to call and remind them why they should vote Nay before they vote on another version of this unaffordable tax cut bill.

For more talking points about tax cuts read:

Find who your legislators are and how to contact them here.

Quotable comment: “We could face a natural disaster, a drop in federal support, spiking health care costs, or who knows what. Legislators can’t predict the future, so they shouldn’t be putting our tax system on auto-pilot,” Gene Perry, OK Policy Institute Policy Director speaking about why Oklahoma should not pass an income tax cut at this time. (Source)

Curb Unnecessary Tax Breaks (download the fact sheet)

Besides stopping tax cuts, reforming the unnecessary and unaffordable tax break for horizontal drilling is our best chance to restore investments in Oklahoma. Tell your legislator that:

  • Horizontal drilling is no longer new and rare so it doesn’t need an incentive to continue.
  • When we let the horizontal drilling tax cut lapse, we will still have a competitive tax rate compared to other natural gas rich states.
  • North Dakota has a much higher tax on horizontal drilling. Not only have companies continued to drill, they have been able to use their tax revenue to pay for major funding boosts to schools and other core services. 

Quotable comment: ” We know that we haven’t been able to fund our schools adequately, and our corrections systems, child welfare and services for the developmentally disabled. So when you have a tax break in place that is costing the state such substantial revenue, it has real consequences. ” -OK Policy Director David Blatt, on why Oklahoma needs to rein in skyrocketing tax breaks for horizontal drilling which totaled $148 million this year (Source)

Restore Education Funding (download the fact sheet)

Citizens on both sides of the fence are getting feisty about education this session.  After an Oklahoman editorial ridiculed Oklahomans who plan to participate in the March 31st rally at the Capitol, education advocates responded. American History teacher Scott Haselwood pointed out “that the more people who take a stand for education the stronger the voice is that can be heard.” Haselwood shared the story from our Oklahoma history — when citizens speak out, we can achieve real education funding boosts and real reform for the better.

Don’t wait till March 31st to make your voice heard!  Contact your legislator now to let them know you want education funding restored and that you’ll be up there to see them soon.

Quotable comment: “Better planning encourages policymakers to take the long view, one that considers a state’s future workforce, population, and infrastructure needs. A state’s budget decisions today on services like education and infrastructure affect both the state and the nation for years to come.” -Elizabeth McNichol, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and co-author of a report that found Oklahoma ranks worst in the nation for long-term budget planning (Source)

Expand health coverage (download the fact sheet)

Quotable comment: “When I have to see my doctor, I pay cash. I also rarely leave without copious amounts of sample meds. I have been very lucky to have been pretty healthy right up until about three months ago,” singer Rebecca Ungerman, who usually donates her time and talents to fundraise for local charites, speaking to the Tulsa World about how she is currently raising funds for her own surgery. (Source) 

Read about the devastating delays for Oklahomans with severe developmental disabilities waiting to receive at-home care.

Upcoming events

The Together Oklahoma Team is visiting groups and speaking all over the state this session.  Use our new speaker scheduling form to invite us to speak to your group soon.

Call to Action

In times like these, it is important to remember that Oklahoma is a young state with a long way to grow.  We are seeing new members join the Together Oklahoma each and every week. Our legislators may not be used to being held accountable for their actions, but make your presence known and give them some time. Oklahoma is becoming more aware and engaged. You are part of the change!

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