Saying the $215 loss of state revenue following the Supreme Court opinion Thursday is, unacceptable,” state senator Roger Thompson wants to see reform on the state’s tax code.
“This is a 215 million cut to three agencies if left to stand. They are the Health Care authority, Mental Health and Department of Human Services. It is unconscionable to allow the cuts to take place.”
Those cuts could include a loss of $173 million to education if cuts were made to all agencies. “Core functions of government must be funded. As the state has grown, the expenses have also grown to maintain those services.”
Thompson has been part of a group of legislators trying to formulate a plan in the event the court ruling went against the fees enacted at the close of the legislative session.
The second of two meetings, featuring in-depth presentations on state taxes, exemptions, credits and spending, concluded Wednesday with eighteen members of the Senate attending the final hearing. Thompson, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance, organized the hearings.
He noted that Oklahoma’s current sales tax exemptions are in excess of $6 billion a year.  Various tax credits cost the state more than $250 million.  But he said the amount of credits claimed, though not taken represent a potential liability of several hundred million dollars more.
As part of his work on several national committees examining taxes and revenue, Thompson said a major issue for states like Oklahoma is the failure to adapt to significant economic shifts and other changes over the decades.
“In the early 1950’s, 67 percent of goods sold were taxed.  Today it’s just 32 percent—less than half.  Yet here in Oklahoma, our population has grown by half a million people,” Thompson said.  “Modernizing our tax code and broadening the tax base will enable us to stabilize our budget and better fund our schools, health and mental health, public safety, and better address other critical needs.”