OCPA Offers Balanced Budget Plan with a Teacher Pay Raise

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) released today a budget plan to fill Oklahoma’s $878 million budget gap and give teachers a pay raise.
“This budget proposal respects and protects Oklahoma families and their own budgets,” OCPA President Jonathan Small said. “The Oklahoma economy faces serious challenges, so it’s only appropriate that state government adjust spending to match tax revenue instead of considering harmful tax increases that burden Oklahoma families and businesses.”
The balanced budget plan proposed by OCPA includes more than $1.3 billion in savings—including items from OCPA’s “Freedom Agenda” (http://www.ocpathink.org/publication/2017-freedom-agenda)
published in January and “First Steps” (http://www.ocpathink.org/post/first-steps-on-the-road-to-balancing-oklahomas-state-budget-without-increasing-taxes-on-working-oklahomans) list released in February — and $337 million in tax increases, including an increase in the tax on gasoline and diesel, a 67-cent per pack cigarette tax increase, and a wind production tax. Together, the lower spending and increased taxes add up to nearly $1.7 billion.
This budget plan (detailed line-by-line here: www.ocpathink.org/budget-plan) would fully fund a $1,000 teacher pay raise for K-12 public school teachers as well as the elimination of personal income tax for classroom teachers. Base pay and income tax are the main reasons cited by teachers that leave Oklahoma for states like Texas.
To fund the teacher pay raise and income tax elimination, OCPA recommends an increased exclusivity fee for Class III gaming and increased 1017 Fund deposits due to the increased exclusivity fee for Class III gaming.
“We are very aware of the growing tribal sector compared to the non-tribal sector,” Small said. “Given that Oklahomans expanded gaming in the mid-2000s specifically for education and teacher pay raises, it’s fitting that gaming fees be increased to reflect the enormity of the gaming industry and fund a $1,000 teacher pay raise and income tax elimination.”
With just over a week until the end of the regular legislative session, some lawmakers have proposed massive tax increases, including a plan to cap personal itemized deductions that would dramatically increase personal income taxes on many Oklahoma families and small businesses.
“We understand the corner the Legislature is in, and appreciate the hard work they are doing to reach reasonable solutions,” OCPA Chairman Larry Parman said. “We look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to not just balance a budget, but build a state.”
NOTE: OCPA is a public policy research organization focused primarily on state-level issues. OCPA conducts research and analysis of public issues in Oklahoma from a perspective of limited government, individual liberty, and a free-market economy.