Independent Christian Voice

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Taxpayer Bill of Rights: a wolf in sheep's clothing?

With a name like "Taxpayer Bill of Rights," it has to be a good thing for the average Oklahoman, right? Fellow Oklahoma blogger Okie Funk says no.

The state’s conservatives recently launched an initiative petition drive to legally and forever ensure Oklahoma remains in the absolute bottom of national education funding.

The conservatives have brought their latest freak show, the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights or TABOR, here not because state spending is skyrocketing or there is major government waste but because they know they can manipulate some Oklahomans with lies, distortions, and the hackneyed and untrue right-wing mantras about big government.

TABOR is about reducing the taxes of rich people. Repeat it. TABOR is about reducing the taxes of rich people. …

What the TABOR Republicans will say is that this is a good way to monitor and check government spending. They will say TABOR ensures government officials cannot spend more in terms of an annual percentage increase than, say, an average family.

(Ironically, their leader President George Bush is one of the most reckless spenders in American history.)

Here is what they will NOT say:

(1) TABOR has been a complete disaster in Colorado. It has wreaked havoc on the economy as educational funding there has plummeted. Colorado has become almost Oklahlomaesque in its treatment of infrastructure. The state was once known for its excellent quality of living. Now it is known for its stupidity in becoming the forerunner of the latest conservative tax cut fad. The state will consider rescinding some of the awful components of TABOR in an upcoming election but you will not hear that from those collecting signatures here…

(2) TABOR, in its purest form, does not allow for states to make up for severe “down” years in state revenues or to pay for big state projects with available cash. If a state goes through successive years of lowering budgets, it can then only grow its budget—when it can—by the formula percentage. It cannot catch up. It must then refund the extra money to taxpayers as schools and health programs and road maintenance projects suffer huge cuts…

(3) Oklahoma is absolutely the wrong place for TABOR. It is a relatively small state with chronic funding problems for education and infrastructure. It needs flexibility in the budget process. It also experiences regular downturns in state revenues sometimes outside of national trends. This means that when the rest of the country is flourishing, Oklahoma could be laying off teachers and ignoring its infrastructure problems in a major financial crisis, compounding its problem of low population growth and sealing its “hick” status…

(Read full post.)

Taxpayer Bill of Rights? Don't be fooled. It's another wealthy conservative attempt at shirking their responsibility to the society from which they've derived their success and wealth. And it's bad for Oklahoma. It will set our state back even further at a time when need to do more to catch up in education and infrastructure if we want to attract long-term investment and if we want any hope for a better future for this state.

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