Thursday, the state legislature began taking up bills to increase revenue by cutting tax credits.
“Today we have an opportunity to really think what’s best for those 1.6 million tax filers in Oklahoma versus what’s best for a few select, well connected groups or individuals that you might be getting texts and e-mails from even this morning,” Senator Mike Mazzei (R) District 25 told his colleagues.
Lawmakers passed a series of bills aimed at cutting tax credits on affordable housing, railroads and certain income taxes, just to name a few. That would raise about 200-million dollars annually.
“We need stable reoccurring revenue and less one time spending sources and borrowing money and that’s the basics of this strategy,” said Mazzei.
Democrats who have been critical of republicans for not proposing any money generating bills until now, remained critical.
“We should have some general goal on where we’re going,” said Senator John Sparks (D) Senate Minority Leader, “Maybe we have one. If we are having one are we keeping a secret? I would suggest maybe we don’t have on eye. If we don’t have one yet we don’t need to be voting on revenue bills yet.”
Mazzei responded, “Our friend Senator Sparks described the exact opposite of how you run a business or how you run a family. He would suggest that we first figure out how much money we want to spend then sort of make it work.
Senator Clark Jolley (R) District 41 added, “Where we’re going is to try to cure a $1.3 billion shortfall and to ensure funding for education, corrections, mental health, department of human services, Medicaid, rural hospitals. That’s where we’re trying to go.”
In the end, all of the measures passed in the Senate and most in the House.
“If you support funding for core services then you have to support every one of these measures because every penny counts at this point,” said Mazzei.
Next week, lawmakers will discuss more tax increases. Among those they’re discussing; a tax on alcohol and gasoline sales. They figure they can raise an additional $28 million per year for every penny tax added to a gallon of gas.