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Lunchtime Links | February 8

February 8, 2018 - 12:00pm CST

Here's what our policy experts are reading today (Links do not constitute endorsements).

Tulsa World: How proposed changes in the state's income tax code could affect you

Legislative panels are expected to consider a bill Thursday that would make significant changes to the state’s income tax code.

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Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, also criticized the bill.

He said Oklahomans are now just “clawing out of the downturn in the economy.” In addition, revenues are growing and the budget gap is about $200 million, Small said.

“House Bill 1037 or any other proposal like it will probably be one of the most devastating and insulting things that could be done to Oklahomans from a public policy perspective,” Small said. “The idea that you would go after the most vulnerable Oklahomans in the income tax code while leaving in place millions of dollars in corporate subsidies and crony capitalism fails the Oklahoma standard.”

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The McCarville Report: Fallin orders Labor Department to coordinate state agency occupational licensing

Governor Fallin Wednesday took steps to make occupational licensing more efficient and consumer friendly for Oklahomans.

Fallin, in Executive Order 2018-02, directed the Oklahoma Department of Labor to become the central coordinating entity for the reporting of occupational licensing information from state agencies, boards and commissions.

The governor took the action after the Occupational Licensing Task Force, which she formed in December 2016, found Oklahoma lacks unified data available to policy makers and the public regarding occupational licensing.

“I commend the task force members led by Labor Commissioner Melissa Houston for their diligent efforts and report, which outlined these efficiency recommendations,” said Fallin.

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The Journal Record: Income tax bill would eliminate many deductions

Although the bill adjusting Oklahoma’s income tax could reduce the burden for many Oklahomans, some of the state’s most vulnerable would see an increase.

Lawmakers are scheduled to consider House Bill 1037 in committee on Thursday morning. It would make several changes to Oklahoma’s income tax structure. It would cap itemized deductions other than those used for charitable contributions and decrease the standard deduction. Some low-income earners would enter a new tax bracket with lower rates. Step Up Oklahoma, the organization that recommended the policy, estimated that 55 percent of residents wouldn’t see a tax increase.

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The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank in Oklahoma City, often opposes tax increase measures on individuals. It hasn’t taken a formal position on the Step Up Oklahoma plan. President Jonathan Small said that given the stopgap measure that reduced the hole in the state budget, increasing income taxes by more than $100 million is unnecessary and that raising taxes on low-income families and small businesses is even worse. HB 1037 repeals breaks for small business incubators associated with operating costs as well as provisions of a program to assist inventors.

“We think it’s a horrible blow, just devastatingly bad policy,” Small said. “A measure like this shouldn’t even be voted on. If it’s forced to be, then it should be defeated.”

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Oklahoma Growth and Opportunity Summit: Register today!

Grassroots Oklahomans don’t want to miss this exciting opportunity to hear from experts across the state on how our budget process works. What are the pitfalls and obstacles in creating a budget for the many agencies and departments within Oklahoma. Do tax credits benefit Oklahoma citizens? What influence does the Oklahoma state constitution have on our budget process?

The Oklahoma Growth and Opportunity Summit 2018, focuses on the facts behind Oklahoma’s state budget, and the sharing of knowledge to arm citizens with a better understanding of the budget process.

Learn more