Oklahoma Democratic state Sen. Tom Adelson, like many of the rest of us, is tired of Republicans running against the state income tax.
Oklahoma has both one of the lowest tax rates and some of the most underfunded public services in the country. For more than a decade, Republican candidates have promised, if elected, to work to eliminate the state’s income tax.
Now the GOP controls both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion. Nothing stands in the way of their fulfilling their promises except their desire to dole out tax breaks to the wealthy and connected while maintaining taxes for everyone else.
Adelson tried to call their bluff. He attached an amendment to a tax credit bill that would abolish the state’s personal and corporate income tax – a tax that provides one third of the state’s revenue.
If our state legislators were responsible public servants, they would vote against both the amendment and the tax credit bill.
Voting for this amendment and this bill is, in effect, a vote to shut down the Oklahoma state government. The Oklahoma State Senate, however, voted 39-8 in favor of the amendment. Adelson voted against his own amendment.
The Oklahoman, the state’s largest newspaper, went out of its way to condemn Adelson for offering an amendment that he had no intention of supporting. The editorial board apparently favors the Senate’s vote for tax credits and ending personal and corporate income taxes.
It looks to me like Oklahoma Republicans are not bluffing when they say they agree with Grover Norquist’s desire to reduce government until it can be drowned in a bathtub.
The only legitimate purpose for government, in their eyes, seems to be to defend property rights. Having derided the “nanny state” for so long, they appear ready to replace it with a “police state.”
Oklahoma already has more women incarcerated than any other state and, by percentage of population, more than any other nation in the world.
It may be hard finding the money to keep them locked up after we’ve eliminated the state income tax, but as long as Oklahomans remain among the strongest advocates for the death penalty, I’m sure we can find a way to reduce the size of the state’s prison system.
Bruce Prescott is executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, president of the Norman, Okla., chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and host of “Religious Talk” on KREF radio. He blogs at Mainstream Baptist.
Click here to learn more about EthicsDaily.com’s documentary on faith and taxes, “Sacred Texts, Social Duty.”
Bruce Prescott, now retired, served as executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists from 1998-2014.