Some GOP Legislators Say “Alternatives” Exist to Step Up Oklahoma’s Tax Hikes

At least 8 Republicans in the Oklahoma House of Representatives say there are alternatives to the massive $704 million tax hike proposed by Step Up Oklahoma, the new group formed by civic and business leaders.

The 8 make up the Oklahoma Republican Platform Caucus and said the bills proposed by Step Up represented the largest tax increase in over a generation. Those bills died in a Monday afternoon house vote. Democrats were against the plan contending energy taxes should be raised higher than proposed.

The eight legislators quoted Senator Tom  Coburn inn calling them “sham income tax reforms” and said the Step Up Oklahoma plan does just the opposite of the tax reform package signed into law by President Trump.”

“Our economy is finally recovering from the devastating crash in oil and natural gas that began in 2014 and continued into 2016. As oil prices have begun to recover, revenues to the state have been up dramatically over past months,” said the caucus members. “Next week the Governor’s office reports how much money we will be able to appropriate for this coming year…these are called the ‘certified funds’.”

The legislators said they expect the certified funds to be “up significantly compared to a year ago meaning that it makes no sense to pass a massive tax increase one week before we learn we have a budget surplus.”

The 8 legislators were Representatives Chuck Strohm, Sean Roberts, George Faught, John Bennett, Rick West, Jeff Coody, Tom Gann and Scott McEachen.

They unveiled their own plans such as using the income from the Commission Land Office to pay for the teacher pay raise. The CLO has a balance of $2.4 billion in assets and generated $322 million 2017.

Another plan is Medicaid Audits and the legislators say like inn Arkansas where an audit found 80,000 recipients are no longer eligible, one in Oklahoma could save $240 million a year.

They propose using $40 million from the state tobacco endowment to fund direct residency programs for teaching hospitals. And the members of the caucus call  for audits of every state agency.

 

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