OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma has one of the lowest tax and fee burdens in the country, according to a new study by a conservative taxpayer's watchdog group in California. The findings of the California Taxpayer's Association were released in an analysis by the Oklahoma Senate staff today.
"The ranking really isn't that surprising since all other objective accounts have ranked Oklahoma as one of the lowest tax states in the country. Still, it's helpful to have yet another organization publicizing our low-tax, business-friendly climate in Oklahoma," said Senator Cal Hobson, vice-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
"I know some have tried to argue that when you add fees into the mix, Oklahoma's low-tax ranking isn't as impressive, but this study proves those arguments wrong."
Using the most current data available from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the CTA ranked the 50 states on their state and local tax and fee burden on a per capita basis. According to the CTA, Oklahoma had the 41st lowest tax and fee burden in the country.
"No matter how you look at Oklahoma, whether you rank us by fees, taxes or both fees and taxes combined, we always come out as one of the best business climates in the country. We're better than Texas, we're better than California, we're better than Colorado and the dozens of other states we're currently competing against for the well-paying jobs," said Senator Hobson.
Some of the CTA findings included:
"In a head to head competition on tax and fee levels, Oklahoma is pretty tough to beat. There just aren't many states that can truthfully claim to have lower taxes and fees than Oklahoma," said Senator Hobson.
The Lexington legislator said the latest study should help Oklahoma's economic development efforts, noting that the CTA report was highlighted in a recent issue of the national trade magazine Governing.
"It's great national publicity for Oklahoma. What's frustrating is the fact that some of our leaders in Oklahoma tend to ignore or even distort our low tax ranking for political reasons. That hurts Oklahoma in the competition for new jobs," said Senator Hobson.
The latest California tax study and other credible revenue reports should also be examined closely before any decisions are made about the future of Oklahoma's existing revenue base, according to the Senate budget leader.
"With Congress cutting Oklahoma's share of the federal budget pie every time we turn around, we have to be extremely careful with our state nest egg of finances. We can't afford to fritter away precious state resources that we will most certainly need in the very near future," noted Senator Hobson.
"The best industries with the best jobs place a high value on education, but unfortunately in Oklahoma, that's where we trail other states. From an economic development standpoint, I think the best use of our resources is a continued investment in education."
The California Taxpayers Association, founded in 1926, is a non-partisan organization composed primarily of members of the business community. The goal of the Sacramento-based association, in the words of its own mission statement, is to "protect its members from unnecessary taxes and promote efficient quality government services."