Oklahoma House Democrats will be relevant, minority leader says

Oklahoma House Democrats number 29, their lowest number in state history in the 101-member chamber.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: December 17, 2012
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Oklahoma House Democrats, down to their lowest number in state history, still can be effective to challenge cuts to the personal income tax rate that could cripple state government, their leader says.

“We adamantly oppose the elimination of the state income tax because we believe it would shift the tax burden from the income tax to property taxes,” said Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City. “We also believe that eliminating that nearly one-third of the state budget would decimate education, decimate transportation — our roads and bridges — and our health care system.”

Kansas, which approved a plan this year that was similar to one being floated by many GOP lawmakers this past session, is discovering the tax cuts are expected to cause huge shortfalls, with revenues projected to drop more than $700 million.

House Democrats, outnumbered 72-29 by Republicans, are developing their agenda but a priority will be to champion increased funding for public schools and the CareerTech system, which have been decimated by cuts over the last four or five years, Inman said.

“This year our top priority is to find a way to put money back into common education and CareerTech,” he said.

Another priority is similar to the GOP legislative leadership and Republican Gov. Mary Fallin of trying to improve the state's workers' compensation system, Inman said. But House Democrats are taking a different approach.

“We're not ready to commit to any kind of dramatic overhaul that guts the whole system. We've got to stay focused on a system that is fair to businesses that is also fair to the worker who is injured through no fault of his or her own.,” he said.

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