Question No. 1: What’s the hardest thing to do in the Oklahoma Legislature:
Answer: Raise taxes.
Question No. 2: What’s the easiest?
Answer: Cut taxes.
And No. 2, of course, is what will dominate the last half of this year’s legislative session not only because it is easy but also wrong, thus fulfilling H.L. Mencken’s prophesy that says, “For every difficult, challenging and complicated problem there is an easy, simple and wrong answer.”
And as Joe Biden likes to say, “Here’s the deal.” Ghost-like House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, an inheritor of a bank full of money, thinks he and other corporate moguls need more of it so his $500 million tax cut plan works like this:
- Abolish over five years the corporate tax completely at a revenue loss of $377 million.
- Reduce again the personal income tax by .025% further eroding the tax base by $77 million in year one, $180 million in year two.
- Throw a bone of about $32 million to our poorest citizens by reinstating something called the Earned Income Tax Credit [EITC].
Brilliant. And all he and his fellow conspirators need to do to accomplish this moronic task is pass a bill with only a simple majority vote and then wait for another corporate freeloader, by title and name Gov. Kevin Stitt, to affix his signature thereto.
No vote of the people; no two-thirds or three-fourths vote of the Legislature required. Just a simple majority someday when a simple majority of the simpletons are gathered up in the beautifully remodeled People’s Building, which is no more your building than is a bed in the Governor’s Mansion.
You can look but can’t touch either place these days, but in case you do get a rare invite, be sure and bring some heat. You don’t want to be the only one going without.
Now why would these guys and gals, Republicans all, whack a hole in next year’s budget the size of the ones in their heads? Please refer to No. 2 above but, in fairness, the answer is more complicated than just that so let me explain further.
The federal government has or is sending about $2 billion to Oklahoma via either the Trump-sponsored CARES Acts [four of them, actually] or the Biden-created American Rescue Plan [one of them] so the wizards on NE 23rd Street feel rich.
Whenever that happens at the Capitol, at least since statehood, some guy running for higher office wants to cut taxes. The guy in this case is Speaker McCall who has become bored watching Floor Leader Jon Echols do all the work and also has taken note that if Stitt, who does little to no work, can play the role of governor, so can he.
And one other factor. Neither Stitt, nor McCall, nor anyone else that shows up from February to May for what’s called a legislative session gives a hoot about Oklahoma becoming a Top 10 State in anything except legislative salaries, fancy offices, conference rooms that Trump would die for, meals at Junior’s that if you eat enough of them during the session you will die because of, and most importantly the opportunity to get the hell out of Wapanucka, Wainwright, Cookie Town, Coalgate or dozens of other dead or dying communities for four days a week during the winter.
Oh, and I’m not going to urge you to contact your Republican legislators to tell them about the needs of public education, health care, public safety, roads and bridges, your kids, your grandma or anything else that costs money. They had a chance to discuss all that when Govern – oops – Speaker McCall trotted out his gubernatorial election legislation, HB 2083 and HB 2041 respectively, and all they did then was sit on their hands, avert their eyes, keep their mouths shut, tap on their cell phones and look forward to the day when McCall is governor because it will most likely coincide when they’ll term out of the Legislature and that means they could become a cabinet Secretary of Something.
And that means they can then stay in the city year ‘round.