Budget & Tax

Brandon Dutcher | December 31, 2009

Just Say No to Oklahoma Tax Hikes

Brandon Dutcher

Perhaps you've seen various straight-news stories in Oklahoma about state budget cuts, furloughs, and "revenue shortfalls of near-catastrophic proportions" (how's that for objectivity?).

But with all this reportage on the state budget, where's the concern for your family budget?

After all, it's not just state agencies which have budget woes and a perpetual "backlog of unmet needs." Oklahoma families have our own backlog of unmet needs, and our own revenue shortfalls and budget cuts. For many Oklahomans-especially the thousands who have lost their jobs since the recession began-the family's rainy-day fund is running low.

So with budget problems mounting at 23rd and Lincoln, and The Journal Record reporting that "a few progressives have whispered the words ‘tax increase' as a possible way to right the budget," taxpayers need to be vigilant. To their credit, Governor Brad Henry, House Speaker Chris Benge, and Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee are all saying tax hikes are not an option right now. That is good to hear. As OCPA economists Scott Moody and Wendy Warcholik pointed out in these pages last month, the average Oklahoman already works longer to pay federal, state, and local taxes than to pay for food, clothing, and shelter combined. And the Obama-Reid-Pelosi regime is poised to make matters worse. Enough is enough.

Still, we would be wise to remember Ronald Reagan's words: Trust but verify. Oklahoma taxpayers would breathe a little easier if our elected officials would sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform. I encourage them to visit and pledge to the taxpayers of their district and to all the people of Oklahoma: "I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes."

Currently, fewer than 20 percent of Oklahoma's legislators have made that promise. The rest are keeping their options open, reserving the right to take more of your money and give it to bureaucrats.

Oklahoma's budget situation seems to get worse every month, and things could really get ugly if things like SQ 744 and Obama's Medicaid expansion come to pass. The pressure to raise taxes will mount. Now is the time to just say no.

Brandon Dutcher Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher

Senior Vice President

Brandon Dutcher is OCPA’s senior vice president. Originally an OCPA board member, he joined the staff in 1995. Dutcher received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma. He received a master’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public policy from Regent University. Dutcher is listed in the Heritage Foundation Guide to Public Policy Experts, and is editor of the book Oklahoma Policy Blueprint, which was praised by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman as “thorough, well-informed, and highly sophisticated.” His award-winning articles have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, WORLD magazine,,, The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and 200 newspapers throughout Oklahoma and the U.S. He and his wife, Susie, have six children and live in Edmond.

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