Hoskin takes part in OK Policy panel

Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. participates in an Oct. 27 discussion hosted by the Oklahoma Policy Institute with the release of its “A Better Path Forward” report. 

OKLAHOMA CITY – In conjunction with the release of its report on Oklahoma’s budget and tax systems, the Oklahoma Policy Institute hosted a forum on Oct. 27 to discuss state fiscal policy, with Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. among the panelists.

In its executive summary of the report, “A Better Path Forward,” OK Policy states “Oklahoma has cut its taxes and public services too much, and this has created real harms to the health, safety and prosperity of all Oklahomans.”

The report claimed that Oklahoma does not collect enough revenue to support prosperity in the state, and characterized current tax policy as “regressive and unfair.”

Also on the panel were State Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton; Dr. Cynthia Rogers, professor of economics at the University of Oklahoma; and Emma Morris, co-author of the report and OK Policy analyst of health care and revenue; Leslie Osborn, state labor commissioner; Paul Shinn, OK Policy’s senior analysts for tax and budget; and Tres Savage, editor in chief for NonDoc, served as moderator.

Asked about his biggest concerns with the state budget, Hoskin agreed with other panelists that it is “broken.”

“I think we have, perhaps unanimity up here on that,” Hoskin said. “The flaws in it have been mentioned, basing so much of the revenues on the price of oil and the absurd notion that you can cut taxes with a simple majority but you can’t fix those mistakes (with a simple majority).”

Hoskin said the state’s budget represents the state’s current values.

“The Oklahoma budget is structured as an every-man-for-himself budget,” he said. “Good luck, if you have yours then you have it, and if you don’t then you’re on your own.”

Hoskin contrasted the $167 million in revenue supplied to the state by tribal gaming to the tax cuts implemented during the 2021 legislative session – noting the cuts were twice the size.

On the subject of finding other revenue sources, Hoskin said tax incentives might attract a few businesses or film productions, but he worried that other factors might scare away further opportunities.

“We ought to be concerned about the industries that completely pass us over because they look at us as a state that is a bottom 10 state in public education,” he said. “We’ve starved higher education even more than we’ve starved public education. There are a lot of companies that look at that, and they fly right over us.”

Among the measures suggested by OK Policy were:

• Add a new 6% income tax rate for incomes more than $150,000 for single filers

and $300,000 for joint filers,

• Add a new 5.5% tax rate for incomes more than $75,000 for single filers and

$150,000 for joint filers,

• Reinstate the estate tax,

• Eliminate itemized deductions,

• Exempt the same amount of Social Security income from state taxes as from federal,

• Exempt Social Security from income tax entirely only for those making less than

$75,000-$85,000 for single taxpayers,

• Eliminate the deduction for contributions to the College Savings (529) Plan and

• Repeal or narrow the Capital Gains Deduction.

The full report is available at https://okpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/Budget-and-Tax-Roadmap-OK-Policy-PRINT.pdf

An executive summary of the report can be read at https://okpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/Budget-and-Tax-Roadmap-Executive-Summary-OK-Policy-PRINT.pdf.

The panel discussion can be seen on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBp7DBvVjAc.