(May 12, 2017) - Each year, the Oklahoma Legislative Session begins with the Governor providing a vision of where we are as a state and where the Governor believes we should be heading. This year, Governor Fallin presented a vision to address the structural problem in recurring state revenue in a number of ways.
Among these plans was a proposal to expand the sales tax base to encompass some services that are taxed in other states, but not in Oklahoma. Changes in consumer patterns are not just affected by the lack of sales tax collection by internet retailers. The overall economy is becoming more geared toward services than goods. A typical family will likely spend less on goods such as clothing and household items than they do on services like grooming, cleaning and repair.
The fact is that the State of Oklahoma is not bringing in enough revenue to fund basic state services. This is now widely recognized among state leaders and must be addressed. Recently, S&P Global Ratings issued a report that lowered the state's general obligation bond debt rating and its rating on the state's appropriation debt. This is another sign that the state is not on a sustainable financial path and needs to make changes.
Think about whether you are happy with either the educational outcomes or health outcomes we are experiencing in the State of Oklahoma. Our state's rankings are abysmal and we can barely keep essential functions of state government running. In order for us to make progress in these areas, they must be funded at a level where basic services can be provided.
Although all may not agree with all aspects of the Governor's proposal, the Oklahoma Municipal League's board of directors who represent Oklahoma cities and towns unanimously voted to support the Governor on her efforts to start the conversation about addressing the structural issues with Oklahoma's revenue. The time to act is now!