Monday, May 16, 2016

Forbes: Oklahoma Looks To Become Next State To Enact Obamacare Medicaid Expansion

Patrick Gleason Contributor

  By seeking to raise taxes and expand Medicaid, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and Sooner State lawmakers are pushing to make their state an outlier in a region full of states reducing their tax burdens, rejecting Obamacare, and exercising spending restraint. Gov. Fallin began the 2016 legislative session by violating the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written commitment she made to Oklahoma taxpayers to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to raise taxes,” by calling for hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes to address a $1.3 billion budget shortfall caused by low oil prices and years of overspending.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin greets President Obama upon arrival of a recent state visit.
  Instead of putting spending in line with available revenue, Gov. Fallin is calling for a cigarette tax increase of $1.50 per pack, a 146 percent rate increase that would make cigarettes sold in Oklahoma among the most heavily-taxed in the nation. Cigarette taxes are regressive, hitting low-income consumers the hardest, and are a volatile source of revenue. Increasing the state’s reliance on tobacco taxes will only make budgeting more difficult. In fact, according to industry data, only three of the 32 state tobacco tax increases that went into effect between 2009 and 2013 met or exceeded revenue projections. It is for this reason that tobacco tax hikes often serve as placeholders for future tax increases on the broader populace.

  Another proposal to raise taxes being debated in Oklahoma is an expansion of the sales tax base to include more products and services. Generally, this can be the basis for good tax reform at the state level when paired with broad base rate cuts. However, that is not what is being proposed here. Oklahoma already imposes the sixth highest average state and local sales tax in the nation at 8.77 percent.
Read the full story at Forbes...

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