- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

The Journal Record, April 14, 2014

No tax cuts

Oklahoma’s outlook is bright.

Our state’s unemployment numbers remain much lower than the national average. Events, tourists and creative young people flow into the revitalized downtown areas of Tulsa and Oklahoma City. And a grass-roots effort stopped a plan that would have damaged the arts community across our state.

But we still face challenges and problems, especially when it comes to the state budget. And one persistent political idea could darken our days.

Our roads are in terrible shape. A bridge that connects two communities is closed for months, and the experts say other pieces of critical infrastructure are in bad shape.

Our state mental health agency only has enough money to help the most desperate people, while thousands go without care.

Our teachers aren’t paid at the regional average, despite lip service about how important they are to our children.

Even our state Capitol, with its gorgeous new dome, is crumbling and festering.

With all these needs, Gov. Mary Fallin’s plan to cut taxes seems ill-timed at best, and unwisely focused on ideology over practicality.

We know few state agencies would ever say, “Yes, we have just the right amount of funds.” Money is power in politics and bureaucracies. Human nature, and natural cost increases, usually lead to larger budget requests. But Oklahoma doesn’t face a crisis of secretaries and executive directors trying to grab a bigger slice of the pie. We see administrators trying to hold the line and provide basic, critical services to our state.

Cutting taxes during times of surplus is a good idea that can help energize an economy, and fuel growth and opportunity. But cutting now, when the state already faces a deficit, means cutting services. Instead of opening up the playing field for new opportunities, it means leaving more people and more needs behind.

It means more dangerous roads, more violence in prisons, more people with illnesses left untreated. And all these conditions mean more problems in the future, even if the average family has a few more dollars in their pocket.

We hope that our state legislative leaders will look for ways to prudently balance our budget, not sacrifice beneficial services on the altar of a philosophy that says every tax cut is a good tax cut.

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