Metro Nonprofits Speak Out Against Tax Credit Cuts

Wednesday, May 11th 2016, 6:37 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

Legislative leaders have repeatedly said, with an estimated $1.3 billion budget shortfall, nothing is off the table, but religious and civic leaders say some things should be.

While legislative leaders are grappling with the numbers, civic leaders presented some numbers of their own. 

"Like 37. As in 37 percent. And that's the number of families that are affected by these tax credits being slashed. And 360. That's about the number that represents the amount of taxes that are going to increase for a family of four that only earns $37,000 a year," said Devon Douglass of the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

"With one in six Oklahomans facing hunger, one in four Oklahoma children without adequate nutritious food, and 16 percent of our population living at or below the federal poverty line, now is not the time to cut back on tax credits that help low income, working families," Effie Craven of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma said.

Lawmakers are expected to reduce or eliminate some tax credits Thursday.

Religious and civic leaders are asking the Legislature to keep their hands off three key tax credits that they say will impact Oklahoma’s neediest residents, like the earned income tax credit; the sales tax relief credit; and the child care tax credit.

"(I) really implore our legislature to not take advantage of, undue advantage of those who are in the unfortunate position of being the last, least and often the left behind," said Reverend Ray Douglas of the Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church.

Instead, religious and civic leaders ask the legislature to reverse the income tax cut that took effect this year, saving the state $147 million; end tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy, saving $387 million; and impose a tax on tobacco and gasoline, raising about $317 million.

"It would be immoral for this state to balance it's budget on the backs of the most vulnerable," said Pastor Mitch Randall of North Haven Church of Norman.