The Wall Street Journal did an editorial praising Oklahoma’s proposed plan. The article points out that Oklahoma is not alone in our desire to rid ourselves of state income taxes. There are several states that will working on reducing and/or abolishing their income taxes (Missouri, Kansas, Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey and Ohio; South Carolina is also considering getting rid of their corporate income tax).
There are currently nine states without state income taxes (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming). Skeptics of this plan have only to look to the economic strength and success in these states to realize how beneficial getting rid of income taxes can be for states.
Florida and Nevada have had some economic problems lately, but as the Journal points out that was not caused by decisions of local lawmakers but by the fact that those states were the epicenter of the housing bust.
Critics also say that eliminating income taxes will cause major cuts to vital public services like education, public safety and those provided for the poor. But there is no evidence to support this concern as the states without income taxes continue to provide high quality services that overall still outshine those in the high income tax states. The article continues by verifying that no-income tax states have experienced faster revenue growth than the high income tax states, which means they are better able to pay for public services.
The Wall Street Journal believes Oklahoma has the best chance of fully abolishing our state income tax in the near future given that we’re an oil and gas state. The editorial points out that the oil and gas industry has helped our state have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at just over six percent.
In the words of the Journal: “The tax competition in America’s heartland is an encouraging sign that at least some U.S. politicians understand that they can’t take prosperity for granted. It must be nurtured with good policy, as they compete for jobs and investment with other states and the rest of the world.”
This week, we focused our attention on working on the 980 Senate bills awaiting us in committee. I was pleased to have one of my bills receive committee approval.
SB 1142 relates to reinstatement of suspended or revoked driver licenses and authorizes the Department of Public Safety to enter certain agreements to issue provisional licenses with individuals to allow limited driving privileges. Agreements would allow individuals to drive between their place of residence and their place of employment, between their place of residence and a college, university or technology center, or between their place of residence and any court-ordered treatment program with the condition that such persons pay a minimum of $25 per month toward the satisfaction of all outstanding driver license reinstatement fees. Currently, it costs roughly $300 to get a license reinstated.
This bill is an effort to help individuals, whether drug court participants, recent parolees or whatever their circumstances, be able to afford to get their license back and become productive citizens again. I know in many cases, when parolees get out of jail they have a lot of fines and things they have to pay, so there’s no way they can afford a lump sum of $300 on top of all their other fines. We don’t want to set these people up for failure and be forced to turn back to a life of crime. Instead, I believe allowing them to pay only $25 a month will help them get back on their feet and stay out of trouble.
Under the bill, individuals would also have to provide proof of insurance as well as proof of enrollment or employment. Any violation of law while holding the provisional license would result in the same suspension or revocation of a regular driver license. The individual would also never be able to apply for a provisional drive license in the future.
Remember to check out our website at www.oksenate.gov for the latest updates on legislation and committee schedules. We offer both streaming audio and video of the Senate Chamber as well as two of our committee rooms, 419C and 511A.
To contact me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Josh Brecheen, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 513A, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at email@example.com, or call (405) 521-5586.