Posts Tagged: ‘Fair Taxation’

State Question No. 757 – Save it for a Rainy Day

October 12, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

This question adjusts the amount of state funds that can be put in the Constitutional Reserve Fund also known as the Rainy Day Fund.

This measure amends the State Constitution.  It amends Section 23 of Article 10.  It increases the amount of surplus revenue which goes into a special fund.  That fund is the Constitutional Reserve Fund.  The amount would go from 10% to 15% of the funds certified as going to the General Revenue fund for the preceding fiscal year.

While I support the need to have a savings account for the state in order to have funds available for emergencies, I feel that our current cap of 10% is sufficient. By increasing the amount the state can put away for the future, it decreases the amount the state is required to give back to the tax payer in times of excess.

I feel that the any beyond the current limit of 10% should be returned to the people of Oklahoma.

Vote No

State Question No. 744: School Spending

September 3, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

Come this November, Oklahomans will have an opportunity to drastically alter the way we fund our education system. Yet, there are many questions in regard to this proposal that lead one to wonder if this is the right way to go.

Here is the language of State Question 744:

The measure repeals a Section of the State Constitution.  The repealed section required the Legislature annually to spend $42.00 for each common school student.  Common schools offer pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.

The measure also adds a new Article to the Constitution.  It sets a minimum average amount the State must annually spend on common schools.  It requires the State to spend annually, no less than the average amount spent on each student by the surrounding states.  Those surrounding states are Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado and New Mexico.  When the average amount spent by surrounding states declines, Oklahoma must spend the amount it spent the year before. The measure deals with money spent on day-to-day operations of the schools and school districts.  This includes spending on instructions, support services and non-instruction services.  The measure does not deal with money spent to pay debt, on buildings or on other capital needs.

The measure requires that increased spending begin in the first fiscal year after its passage.  It requires that the surrounding state average be met in the third fiscal year after passage.

The measure does not raise taxes, nor does it provide new funding for the new spending requirements.

So what does this question actually propose? First, it is a proposal to amend the State Constitution and change how much money we spend on education. Second, it takes how we determine that spending and put it in the hands of other states. Third, it provides no direction on where that money should come from.

Let’s look at those three points one at a time:

Amending the Oklahoma Constitution to change how much we spend on education

Let me be honest here. I do not advocate trying to fix problems by throwing more money at them. It did not work with our economy, banks, housing or auto industry. In each of these cases, the Federal government decided that throwing money at a problem would fix it and all would be well. We know that did not happen. We are still losing jobs, banks are still suffering, the housing market is still at record lows and auto sales are still slumping. So why are there people out there that think throwing more money at education is going to improve our graduation rates and test scores?

Taking control of our spending and putting it in the hands of other states

This proposal will force our state to spend at the average spending of those states in our region. So in effect, other states will determine our minimum level of spending. If we cannot afford to increase our spending when other states do, we will be forced to do so any way. We will not be allowed to adjust our spending as we see fit. Why would any person want to leave our budget and education in the hands of people with no vested interest in our well being?

Provides no direction on where the money will come from

It says it clear as day in the question: “The measure does not raise taxes, nor does it provide new funding for the new spending requirements” So where will the money come from? Last I checked, money does not grow on trees. So it will have to come from somewhere. That somewhere will either be increases in taxes or decreases on other services provided by the state of Oklahoma. While I support decreasing spending in areas of government that are not for the public good, I do not support taking that money and putting it elsewhere in government. I also support decreasing our tax rates to make it more attractive for people to live and work here. So why are people clamoring to increase taxes and decrease other necessary functions of government?

Vote No on SQ744 and fight for real reform

I ask that everyone vote ‘No’ on SQ 744. I propose that we fight for real reform of our education by putting the power of education back into the hands of the people most vested in the welfare of the children of this state, the Parents. I propose that instead of throwing money at the problem of failing public schools, we give the parents the power to direct their children’s education by instituting a voucher program.

By providing a voucher program, parents will be given a certain amount of money each year to go toward their school of choice. If a parent decides they want their child in the public education system, the money will go to that school. If the parent decides to put their child into a private or charter school, the money will go toward that. If the parent decides to home school their child, they will get money to pay for those expenses.

By doing this, Oklahoma will allow our education system to have a true open market. This will put pressure on all schools to provide the best education possible through true competition. This is the only way to improve our education.

Sales Tax Instead of Income Tax? Yes Please.

June 29, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

During the next few months, the Oklahoma Legislative Committees will be studying various proposals and items of interest for the upcoming 2011 Legislative Session. Of these studies, there is one that really stood out to me for two reasons. This study is described as “Flat-rate state sales tax in lieu of income tax”

The first reason this study interests me is that it is key to my proposed tax reform for the state. The second is who is performing the study.

Why a Sales Tax is Better than an Income Tax

The income tax adds unneeded hardships for people in this state. It reduces the amount of money that can be spent by the people who earn it. It decreases the ability for employers to hire new workers, as they have to pay their current employees more to offset taxes.

Additionally, we are subject to both an income tax and a sales tax in this state. So we are in essence being taxed twice. Once on our ability to earn an income and a second on our ability to spend it.

I propose that we eliminated our income tax and replace it with the sales tax.

Why would this be better than our  current system? For one, we would only be taxed once. This is the key. We would no longer be taxed on our ability to earn an income. This means that we have more money to spend.

It is also more fair. Since we are now being taxed on our ability to spend our income, the tax burden is more fairly distributed. Since those that earn a higher income can spend more, they will pay more in taxes. Those with less income will spend less and pay less taxes.

You get to keep your money if you don’t spend as well. If you decide to put your money in a savings account, that money will not be taxed until you decide to spend it. That means you will have more money to save towards retirement and emergencies.

I will not lie to you. If we do switch to just a sales tax, it will go up. That is an inevitable part of the change. We have to supplement the loss of income from the income tax. Yet, if we can work to decrease the amount of money the state pays in bureaucracy, that increase will be minimal.

Another benefit to a state that relies on a sales tax rather than an income tax is that the state now has a greater incentive to promote strong economy and commerce. If the state relies on people spending money in order for the government to have money, they will be more willing to pass legislation that attracts businesses and workers. That is what will bring in more money to the state.

This legislative session ended with a deficit. In order to remedy that deficit, the legislature made it more difficult to do business in the state for some areas of commerce. Why would those businesses want to come here? If we make this change and begin working on better commerce legislation, they will want to come here.

Who Is Performing the Study

As I said earlier, there are two reasons I am interested in this study. The first was the study itself and what it means for us. The second is who is performing the study.

This study has been assigned to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. What makes this important is that my opponent, Scott Martin, is Vice Chair of this committee. I will be following this study closely and will carefully review their conclusions.

Regardless of the outcome, if elected I will be pushing for this key change to our State economy. I feel that this will not only increase the income the government has to spend, but also improve the lives of the people that live here.