Editor’s Notebook: Fallin on AMR bankruptcy, OCPA presses tax phaseout, task force meets, Costello assails “frontal attack” on family farm

 AMR Corp, parent company of American Airlines, filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday (November 29). In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin commented about the filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection:

“As the largest private sector employer in Tulsa, American Airlines is an extremely important part of the Oklahoma community. The company has long and deeply rooted ties to the city and the state, both of which provide the kind of good business climate and educated aerospace workforce the industry requires.

“Despite the recent announcement, I’m confident that AA and Tulsa will continue their great relationship, and my office stands ready to help in any way it can.”
In her release, Fallin said she had spoken to American Airlines executives, expressing “both concern and optimism for the future.”

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The in-state co-sponsor of a dramatic proposal to phase out Oklahoma’s personal income tax over a decade said in a Tuesday afternoon (November 29) statement the plan would result in Oklahoma having the lowest overall tax burden in the lower 48.

Oklahoma would, if the plan unfolds, have the second lowest tax rate in America.
Michael Carnuccio, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) said, “It’s time for Oklahoma to take a bold step toward sustained prosperity.”

He continued, “Eliminating our personal income tax through a gradual phase-out is the kind of transformational change that will move us from having a better-than-average economic climate to being among the very best states in the nation to do business, create jobs, raise a family and retire.”
Oklahoma has in recent years performed better, economically, than most states. However, an OCPA release contended, “in terms of opportunity and growth, Oklahoma still lags behind most states that boast no personal income tax or have lower tax burdens.”

Jonathan Small, fiscal policy analyst at the pro-free market group in Oklahoma City, commented, “In the past decade, states without an individual income tax saw 10 times more job growth than the national average and over twice the job growth we experienced in Oklahoma.

“The reason is simple. In states with no income tax, employers have a stronger incentive to take risk, pursue profit and create jobs. When the free market is allowed to work, individuals are more likely to prosper.”
The OCPA report was produced with the help of Arduin, Laffer and Moore Econometrics (ALME), and was the subject of a speech by Dr. Arthur Laffer on Tuesday at the 55th annual joint meeting of Oklahoma City’s leading civic groups: Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions.
The OCPA-ALME analysis specifically challenged contentions that elimination of the state income tax would require slashing government-financed services, or force tax increases in other categories or even forms of taxation.

The decade-long phase-in, a release from OCPA sent to CapitolBeatOK stressed, gives Oklahoma policymakers “ample time to adjust, meaning only relatively minimal reductions in non-core areas of state spending would be necessary.”
Carnuccio reflected, “Oklahoma does not need to raise taxes to cut taxes. With hundreds of millions of dollars in waste, inefficiency, and non-core spending in state government, there is plenty of revenue to fund education, transportation, public safety and a safety net for the truly needy while returning tax dollars to the many Oklahoma families struggling to make ends meet.”

The study says the average state family of four would save $1,300 a year after phase out of the unpopular levy, while the average individual taxpayer would save around $1000 annually.

Canuccio also pointed to results of a September statewide survey finding that two-thirds of likely voters would prefer lower taxes, even if that meant fewer government-provided services. The OCPA president reflected, “Oklahomans get it. They understand we can’t nickel-and-dime our way to prosperity as a state. They also work hard for their paycheck each month and know they could spend the bulk of that money better than a government bureaucrat.

“Combine Oklahoma’s low cost of living with the lowest tax burden in the continental United States, and you have a recipe for the best economic environment in the country. Not just better, the best.”

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The Task Force on State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives will hold a meeting today (Wednesday, November 30) focused on its final report and proposed criteria for evaluation of tax credits.

The session begins at 10 a.m. in the chamber of the House of Representatives, fourth floor of the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.

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Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor Mark Costello has opposed proposed new U.S. Labor Department rules regarding child farm workers, calling the possible changes a “frontal attack on the rural family, farm life, and the family farm or ranch as a small business operation.”

Costello said the new rules would bar teens “from riding on a tractor, herding and branding cattle, and grandparents are barred from having their grandchildren work on the family farm.” Costello observed that President Barack Obama chided rural Americans “who cling to guns or religion.”

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis circulated to reporters on Tuesday, Commissioner Costello said, “This absurdity will destroy agricultural jobs, hurt American agricultural competitiveness, and damage the cultural integrity of the rural family.” He assailed the proposed rules as an attempt to “criminalize traditional family farm life.” He called on the federal agency to stop implementing “flawed nanny state rules.”