Policy Research Fellow

Curtis Shelton currently serves as a policy research fellow for OCPA with a focus on fiscal policy. Curtis graduated Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a Bachelors of Arts in Finance. Previously, he served as a summer intern at OCPA and spent time as a staff accountant for Sutherland Global Services.

Policy Research Fellow

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The Tax Foundation released its 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index. Originally co-created by Scott Moody and Wendy Warcholik (who are now OCPA research fellows) and now in its 14th year, the index ranks each state based on how conducive its tax system is to economic growth. This report does not measure how much a state collects in taxes but rather how well the state structures its tax system.

Kentucky provides a perfect example of this as it saw the biggest jump, from 39 to 23, while enacting a revenue-raising tax reform. By simplifying its income tax structure, removing business tax credits, and broadening its sales tax base, Kentucky created a simpler and fairer tax system that also resulted in increased revenue.

The index ranks Oklahoma 26th overall. This is Oklahoma’s worst ranking in the last four years and five spots lower than last year. Oklahoma fell in three of the five major categories: individual income tax, sales tax, and property tax. Oklahoma has its lowest rankings in the individual income tax and sales tax categories.

State2019 Overall Rank2019 Corporate Income Tax Rank2019 Individual Income Tax Rank2019 Sales Tax Rank2019 Property Tax Rank2019 Unemployment Insurance Tax Rank
Missouri14th4th25th25th7th8th
Texas15th49th6th37th37th18th
Oklahoma26th9th33rd39th19th1st
Kansas28th34th21st31st20th15th
Arkansas46th40th40th44th26th34th


Despite falling in the rankings, Oklahoma continues to outpace some of our regional neighbors. Missouri moved ahead of Texas for the first time in four years, while Arkansas continues to hold the bottom spot among our regional states. Missouri ranks in the top half of each of the five categories, while Texas has an immense comparative advantage in the individual income tax by levying a rate of zero.

Below, you can see the change in national rank over the past four years amongst Oklahoma and our regional neighbors.

State2016 National Rank2017 National Rank2018 National Rank2019 National Rank
Oklahoma23rd21st21st26th
Texas14th13th13th15th
Missouri16th15th15th14th
Kansas25th24th28th28th
Arkansas46th43rd43rd46th


Policy Research Fellow

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