Talk of cutting Oklahoma's income tax not just an academic exercise

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: December 21, 2011
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TALK of state tax cuts or entirely eliminating a revenue source, such as is happening now in Oklahoma, usually occurs when times are flush.

That was true when Oklahoma began a round of tax-cutting after the flush 1990s and again following recovery from the post-9/11 recession.

With recovery from the latest recession still not etched in stone, it's remarkable that tax cuts are being talked about along with a phaseout of the Oklahoma personal income tax. This is primarily due to the “takeover” of state government by Republicans in the 2010 election.

Like individuals, states have been having to make do with less. How much less can they make do with?

This is a question the people must answer. And they must do it soon. The 2012 legislative session begins in a little more than a month and a key item on the agenda is the income tax phaseout.

Stateline.org says state agencies across the country “are seeing growing backlogs of work, as increased demand for state services in a weak economy bumps up against the state's efforts to cut their payroll costs.”

Oklahoma isn't alone in looking at tax cuts. It's definitely not alone in reeling from the effects of year after year of state budget cuts. Oklahoma and most other states have general fund budgets smaller than they were at pre-recession levels. The state has fewer employees. Classrooms are more crowded.

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