By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant
Hello again, everybody! As children, we all read the fable of Chicken Little, a frightened little bird who ran around yelling, “The sky is falling!”
While a children’s fable, it fits modern politics; it is easier to cause panic with wild charges than to engage in thoughtful discussion of an issue. Chicken Little jumped to mind when I read a column by the president of the Oklahoma Municipal League (OML) in a recent issue of “The Daily Oklahoman.”
The OML president wrote my proposal to end the grocery tax would harm cities and counties. He asserted that because local sales tax ordinances are tied to state law, cities and counties can only charge sales taxes on those items the state taxes. He said if the state stops collecting the grocery tax, they would have to as well.
That is no more accurate than Chicken Little saying, “The sky is falling.” My proposal allows local jurisdictions to continue collecting their grocery tax. At most, they would have to make minor changes to ordinances to keep taxing groceries.
That brings me back to Chicken Little. For years, OML opposed the back-to-school sales tax holiday. Their claim was that it would devastate city governments by reducing the tax revenue cities collect and use to provide services to their residents.
Even the fact that every state which passed the back-to-school sales tax holiday actually enjoyed increased revenues could not convince the OML. Their Chicken Little-like lobbying helped scuttle the sales tax holiday for years, until the grassroots support from people like you finally created enough pressure to get the bill passed.
The results of our back-to-school holiday could not have been better. Oklahomans got a real tax cut that made a difference for families, and – despite OML’s claims – revenues increased for the state – and cities and counties.
OML is apparently again going to oppose an important tax cut for families. As wrong as they were on the sales tax holiday, one has to wonder why anyone would listen to them on the grocery tax. The truth is that cutting the state’s grocery tax will give cities and counties a boost – just like the sales tax holiday.
First, they get to keep their grocery tax money. Then, cutting the state grocery tax will put more money back into the hands of families who will spend it on taxable items, giving cities and counties more tax revenue. That is what happened with the back-to-school sales tax holiday; it will happen again when we end the state grocery tax.
The sky is not falling, and Oklahomans know it. Despite all the reasons some may give to keep taxing food you buy for your families, I am committed to this battle. It is a fight for families, and I don’t believe you can honestly talk about “family values” if you oppose those policies that value families.
Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute,” have a great week, and may God bless you all.