The State Treasurer’s Office released its annual Legislative Session Report Card today. OCPA, one of several groups asked to assign a letter grade to the 2017 session, gave the Legislature a C+.
Given that Oklahoma’s total state government spending is at an all-time high, it’s disappointing that many opportunities for cost-saving reforms were not realized during the session. But, in the face of relentless pressure from tax consumers, lawmakers deserve credit for passing a budget that included relatively few tax increases on Oklahoma families and job-creators.
Oklahoma is in a recession compared to 2014, after more than 21,800 energy and manufacturing jobs have been cut, when Oklahomans have lost more than $13 billion in taxable income, and reduced their purchases subject to sales and use tax by $4.1 billion just to survive.
Oklahoma’s budget issues are not due to too few, or too low, taxes. They stem from two clear causes – an extended recession that hit the core oil and gas industry especially hard and the persistent failure of state leaders to truly address the convoluted, wasteful structure of government.