Claremore Daily Progress

April 21, 2014

Senate Review

Sean Burrage
State Senator

OKLAHOMA CITY —

April 15th was the deadline for filing taxes.  I’m certain it’s no one’s favorite time of year, but here’s something that may help give a little perspective—at least as far as state taxes go.  

When you look at total taxes paid as a percentage of personal income, Oklahomans’ paid the 48th lowest taxes in the nation out of all 50 states.  Based on 2011 figures, Oklahomans paid a about 8.4 cents in taxes out of each dollar of income.  Only Alabama, Tennessee, and South Dakota citizens paid less.  And that’s before the tax cut that took effect in January, 2012.

When you look at all our neighboring states, the picture becomes even clearer.  When you look at state and local taxes as a share of personal income in 2011, we had the lowest percentage compared to any bordering states.  Again, in Oklahoma, it was 8.4 percent.  New Mexico citizens paid 10.2 percent.  In Arkansas and Kansas, it was 10 percent.  Colorado was below that at 9.7 percent followed by Texas at 8.8 percent and Missouri at 8.6 percent.
These figures, which were compiled by the Oklahoma Policy Institute, show that Oklahoma taxes are at historically low levels.  In 2012, Oklahomans paid 5.9 percent of their total personal income in state taxes.  The 30-year average was 6.65 percent in our state.
The bottom line is, when you do a true apples to apples comparison, not only is Oklahoma not a high-tax state, but we are one of the lowest tax states in the entire country.
But here’s the other side of that coin—we’re nearly last in the country in teacher pay.  The percentage of state support for public colleges and universities has dropped dramatically, while tuition and fees that students and their families have to pay continues to climb.  A study requested by the governor revealed state employees are undercompensated and need a pay raise.  So do our Highway Patrol Troopers and corrections officers.  In terms of public health and mental health, our state consistently ranks toward the bottom in those as well.
It’s not a coincidence.
Thanks again for reading my “Senate Review.” If you have any questions on a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my Senate office at the Capitol by calling (405) 521-5555 or writing me with your concerns at:  Senator Sean Burrage, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd. Rm. 537, State Capitol Building, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.  I always enjoy hearing from my constituents and consider it an honor to be your voice in the Oklahoma State Senate.  May God bless each of you.  
Sean Burrage is state senator for Rogers County.