Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is the latest Republican governor pushing for cuts to the state income tax, and like the plans from other states, Fallin’s would give most of its benefits to the state’s wealthiest residents. The proposal is gaining steam in the state legislature, where it has passed the House and is awaiting consideration in the Senate.
Fallin’s plan reduces the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, and while it is modest compared to tax cuts other Republican states are pursuing, it would still cost the state roughly $100 million a year. And according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute, more than 40 percent of its tax cuts would go to the state’s richest 5 percent of residents while the bottom 60 percent would see just 9 percent of the benefits. The poorest fifth of Oklahoma residents would see no tax cut at all:
Oklahoma’s tax code is already skewed toward the wealthy: the poorest Oklahomans pay an average of 10.3 percent of their income in taxes, while the wealthiest 1 percent pay just 4.6 percent of theirs, according to the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. And while Fallin is cutting taxes and reducing state revenues, Oklahoma will spend less this fiscal year on education than it did last year and is still spending 10.7 percent less on higher education than it did before the recession.
Republican governors across the country are pitching tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, and like Fallin, they sell them as a way to boost their economies. A recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, however, found that after a similar round of tax cuts in the 1990s, states that cut taxes saw slower economic and job growth than states that did not. (HT Citizens for Tax Justice)