OKLAHOMA CITY (Sept 7) – A politically diverse group of Oklahoma economists and fiscal policy experts gathered today at the State Capitol in opposition to State Question 744. The group cited massive tax increases, irresponsible cuts to vital state services and a loss of representative democracy as the united concerns.
Economists appearing at the press conference were adamant Oklahoma taxpayers will be faced with two options to pay for the estimated $1.7 billion spending increases mandated by SQ 744 – a combination of massive tax hikes in income, sales and property taxes coupled with cuts to state services outside of common education – such as Medicaid funding, road and bridge repairs and funding for state prisons.
Dr. Larkin Warner, a regents professor emeritus of economics at Oklahoma State University said, “It is a mathematical certainty passage of SQ 744 will take tax dollars away from vital state services, such as Medicaid spending and road and bridge repairs to satisfy the spending mandate.”
Michael Carnuccio, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs said, "In addition to the alarming consequences of SQ 744, there are two facts that prove such a measure is dangerous. More money does not correlate to increased student performance, and if Oklahoma calculated our education spending the same as the states we are compared to, we would already be spending more than the regional average."
David Blatt, director of Oklahoma Policy Institute said, “We have run a detailed analysis of the what the anticipated cost of SQ 744 will be. Our best guess is initially we are looking at spending increases of $1.7 billion for common education over three years with no source identified to pay for it. We believe that we must boost funding for our schools, but not at the expense of services for children with mental health issues or kids in foster care or students in our colleges and universities. Tax revenue comes from one place and one place alone: the taxpayer. So whether we cut other state services or increase taxes, we must face the reality those are our only two options.”
Dr. Alexander Holmes chair of the department of economics at the University of Oklahoma, and former state secretary of finance and a former revenue and budget director of the Office of State Finance said, “This is an irresponsible measure at best with catastrophic results at worst. Because Oklahoma law doesn’t allow an increase in taxes without a vote of the people or three-fourths majority of the legislature, it is impossible to fund this spending increase without cutting other government services.”
Jeff Wilson, campaign manager of One Oklahoma said, “We have heard from a diversity of economists and policy experts on the impact of SQ 744. One Oklahoma requests an opportunity to join the Yes on 744 campaign in a public forum in order for them to provide the people of Oklahoma a detailed budget that answers two simple questions: How much will SQ 744 cost? Where will the money come from?”
Posted on Wed, September 8, 2010