Governor Mary Fallin Violates Taxpayer Protection Pledge in Budget Requests

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Posted by Emily Leayman on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, 9:18 AM PERMALINK

Oklahoma faces a $900 million overspending problem, and that number could reach as high as $1 billion with falling gas prices and lower tax collections in December. Gov. Mary Fallin’s solution is $910 million in “recurring revenue,” an evasive term for tax hikes.

In her state of the state address Monday, Feb. 1, Fallin, a Taxpayer Protection Pledge signer, proposed:

-$181.6 million from a $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax hike

-$200 million from reducing sales tax exemptions and expanding sales taxes.

Oklahoma’s cigarette tax is currently $1.03. Fallin argued that cigarettes lead to an annual $1.6 billion in health costs. Nearly every dollar Fallin anticipates receiving, as a result of the cigarette tax increase, will be plowed into teacher raises, constituting $178.4 million in higher annual spending. This isn’t about the impact of smoking on public health costs; it’s about extracting resources from those who can least afford it to fund an addiction to overspending.

Fallin emphasized that her plan does not raise the 8.77 percent sales tax, the sixth highest combined state and local rate in the U.S. But she does want to apply sales taxes to more items, insisting the state has too many outdated exemptions. She points to neighboring states as a model for implementing more sales taxes:

“This budget proposes eliminating outdated exemptions and looking at areas other states apply sales tax to that aren’t subject to sales tax in Oklahoma. The Texas sales tax covers roughly 60 more categories than Oklahoma’s. New Mexico’s sales tax covers 130 more categories than Oklahoma’s.”

Conservative tax reform includes both a broadening of the base for taxable goods and services AND a reduction in the rate, not simply an expansion of things taxed.

Fallin isn’t only consumed by the concept of extracting more money from Okalahoma taxpayers; she has called on Congress to implement a national online sales tax as well:

“We all know that cities and states are losing out on sales tax revenue each year as more business is conducted online, and states like Oklahoma can’t collect sales tax because of federal inaction. We all need to call on Congress to level the field for small businesses and Oklahoma retailers by implementing a fair system for online sales tax.”

Proposed legislation could do just that in the Sooner State. House Bill 2925 would allow the state to collect sales taxes from online retailers like Amazon.

Gov. Fallin’s proposal stands in stark contrast to recent accomplishments made in Okalahoma. Most notably, she pushed for income tax cuts, which into effect last month.

Defending the tax cuts in December, Fallin said:

“Tax policy is long-term policy and, over the long term, a lower tax burden is good policy and the policy the voters have asked for in Oklahoma. If Oklahoma wants to attract and retain good jobs — rather than losing them to neighboring states — we must improve our tax climate.”

Today Fallin’s outlook is a complete turnaround. Her new proposals — creating more sales taxes and raising the cigarette tax —would not improve the tax climate. The cigarette tax, currently the 30th-highest, would reach the top 10 if Fallin’s proposal went through.

Oklahoma does not have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. Instead of straddling low-income consumers and families with higher taxes, the legislature should rein in spending instead.  

Not only does her budget constitute a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a vote in support of it by legislators would be a violation as well. ATR urges the legislature to reject this senseless cash-grab.

Read Fallin’s entire state of the state address here


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Logic Prevails, Supreme Court Blocks Obama's Carbon Rule

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016, 8:40 AM PERMALINK

The Supreme Court dealt a major blow this week to President Obama’s climate legacy and his aggressive regulatory regime. The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled in favor of staying the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (Carbon Rule), meaning the rule cannot take effect while legal challenges are ongoing.

The stay by SCOTUS prevents the EPA from enforcing the carbon rule until lower courts decide on challenges brought by a number of states and industry groups that have alleged President Obama and the EPA exceeded their authority. The ruling confirms what many opponents of the President’s carbon rule already new: that the rule exemplified federal overreach; would be catastrophic for states and the economy; and was premised on backwards and illogical legal grounds. 

As Harvard Law Professor and Obama mentor Laurence Tribe has stated, the rule “lacks legal basis” and “is a remarkable example of executive overreach and an administrative agency’s assertion of power beyond its statutory authority.” The court obviously realized just how disastrous this rule would be for the country, while at the same time having little to no impact on the environment. 

The President’s Carbon rule represents the worst of federal overreach, and would have sent electricity rates soaring by double digits in over 40 states. The rule was also projected to kill thousands of jobs, potentially pushing integral industries to look for lower energy prices, potentially overseas.

The ruling by SCOTUS blocking the carbon rule prevents an economically disastrous outcome, much like what was seen with the recent mercury rule. In Michigan v. EPA, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA’s Mercury regulation was legally unsound. However roughly 40 gigawatts of generating capacity had been prematurely shut down in response to the rule despite the fact the legal challenges had not yet been resolved.

To begin implementing the new carbon rule before legal resolution would have repeated the mistakes of the past, destroyed thousands of jobs, and cost millions in wasted taxpayer dollars. The ruling by the Supreme Court this week is a victory not just for the states and American economy, but also a victory for basic common sense and logic. 


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Obama Budget Will Crush Medical Innovation

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016, 4:16 PM PERMALINK

President Obama’s final budget includes a proposal to reduce the period of brand exclusivity available for biopharmaceuticals. While it may sound innocuous, this proposal would squeeze the ability of researchers to recoup the steep costs associated with creating new medicines, which in turn will crush their ability to create the next generation of medicines.      

Under current law, a new biologic is given 12 years of exclusivity. This number was not plucked out of thin air by lawmakers, it was created to ensure innovators are able to recoup the extensive R&D costs. The Obama budget proposes to cut this exclusivity period to just seven years and would prohibit additional periods of exclusivity when the product formulation of a biologic is altered.

These changes will take a heavy toll on the creation of new cures. Currently, it costs researchers an average of $2.6 billion and over ten years to develop a new medicine. In 2014 alone, pharmaceutical firms spent over $51 billion on research, while over 50 new drugs entered the market. In order to maintain this rate of innovation, companies are faced with a delicate balance to ensure they are able to finance new research and development.

The Obama budget claims these proposals will increase access to medicine through the development of generics. But by eroding innovator protections, the administration will cut off the stream of resources that allows the development of new medicines for decades to come.

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Obama Budget Calls for $1 Billion More for the IRS

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016, 2:18 PM PERMALINK

President Obama’s final budget calls for over $1 billion in additional funding for the IRS, which would bring the agency’s total budget to over $12.3 billion in 2017. Given the IRS's record of ineptitude and incompetence, the last thing the agency needs is more money.

The budget proposal includes an additional $530 million in direct, discretionary funding and $515 million for a “multi-year program integrity cap adjustment for tax enforcement.”

Over the past year, the IRS management has repeatedly claimed the agency is starved of taxpayer dollars.

But in reality, the agency is poorly managed and has failed time and time again at its basic responsibilities. Taxpayers are being ill-served by inept bureaucrats that are more concerned about harassing conservatives and businesses than doing their job:

-The agency has continued to drag its feet in implementing reforms, even following the agency targeting conservative groups between 2009 and 2012. This targeting resulted in just one conservative non-profit being granted tax exempt status over a three year period.

-A pair of reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that serious internal control flaws mean the IRS may still be unfairly selecting Americans for an audit “based on an organization’s religious, educational, political, or other views.”

-In addition to misspending funds targeting first amendment rights, the agency has failed to properly allocate spending. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s 2015 Annual Report to Congress the IRS is unable to justify spending decisions. As the report stated:

“The IRS lacks a principled basis for making the difficult resource allocation decisions necessitated by today’s tight budget environment.”

-The IRS failed to properly prioritize funding even when budgetary pressure did not exist. The agency has failed to produce a single report on tax complexity since 2002, despite federal law requiring one be compiled each year.

-In fact, the IRS budget has doubled in the past 30 years, even after adjusting for inflation, according to an analysis by Cato Institute economist Dan Mitchell, Although its funding has declined since 2010, it remains higher than mid 2000s levels.

Rather than throwing away over a billion dollars in new taxpayer funding to the IRS, the agency should be held accountable to the American people through a series of reforms that limit the power of unelected bureaucrats.


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Obama Budget Calls for $3.4 Trillion Tax Hike

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016, 11:51 AM PERMALINK

President Obama’s final budget will increase taxes on the American people by up to $3.4 trillion over the next ten years, according to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The President’s adjusted baseline predicts revenues of $43.1 trillion over the ten year window, while his proposed budget calls for revenues totaling $46.5 trillion – an increase of $3.4 trillion.

The Obama budget will result in massive new taxes on already overtaxed American families.

Many of Obama’s new tax hikes violate the spirit – if not the letter -- of Obama’s “firm pledge” against “any form of tax increase” on any American earning less than $250,000.

One previously announced tax hike in the Obama budget calls for a $320 billion energy tax increase on the American people. This new tax comes in the form of a $10 tax per barrel of oil that will be passed onto drivers in the form of higher prices at the pump.

This tax hike would be used to finance a massive new “clean transportation” program that would spend billions on bullet trains, self-driving cars, and a “climate smart fund.”

See also:

Obama Budget Contains $320 Billion Energy Tax Hike

Obama's Final Budget: Highest Cap Gains Tax Since 1997


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The madman is at it again. The only part of running a country he's good at is running it into the ground.

Obama's Final Budget: Highest Cap Gains Tax Since 1997

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Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016, 11:32 AM PERMALINK

President Obama's final budget calls for a hike in the capital gains and dividends tax rate from 23.8% today (20% plus 3.8% Obamacare surtax) to 28% (including the Obamacare surtax).

The capital gains tax has not been that high since President Clinton signed a rate cut in 1997.  

It would represent a massive hike in the rate since Obama took office. When he was sworn in, the rate was 15%. He proposes to nearly double it to 28% in the twilight of his administration.

"Bill Clinton signed Republican legislation reducing the capital gains tax from 28% to 20%. The economy strengthened," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "During his presidency Barack Obama has increased the capital gains tax from 15% to 20%, then from 20% to 23.8% and now he wants to increase it again to 28%. As a result Obama's 'recovery' has been the weakest since 1960. Obama has a sluggish economy and a very slow learning curve."

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ATR Applauds Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s Defense of Taxpayers in Gas Tax Hike Talks

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Posted by Miriam Roff on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016, 10:58 AM PERMALINK

In a time when taxpayers can finally afford to fuel their cars, some state legislators are jumping on the gas tax hike bandwagon. The latest set of state legislators capitalizing on the moment are Indiana House Republicans. Despite having a $2 billion surplus, these legislators want taxpayers to foot the bill for expanding state transportation needs. Others, though, have vocally acknowledged that a state’s new and current transportation needs can be met through smarter budgeting, instead of gas tax hikes. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) is the most recent governor to take this approach.  

“[W]e will NOT raise taxes to fund our highways. Specifically, there will be no new taxes on gasoline, diesel fuel or sales tax. With our economy still on the mend and with families who are still struggling to make ends meet, now is not the time to raise taxes,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson’s governing stands in stark contrast to Hoosier legislators. Under his leadership, the Natural State ended its 2015 budget year with a $191.6 million net surplus. And as a true friend to taxpayers, the governor is asking lawmakers to address spending problems through “[government] efficiency” and “budget savings” in order to meet the funding requirements of the federal transportation bill, rather than to tax Arkansas taxpayers to high heaven. According to the governor, raising the gas tax at this time would be a shot in the foot to taxpayers and to the budget.

In comparison to neighboring states, Arkansas has the lowest annual percent of general revenue that is used for highway funding at 0.01 percent. In order to obtain $2 billion in Federal Highway Trust Fund resources over the next decade, the governor proposed a transportation budget last month that involves appropriating a mixture of its surplus funds and general revenue to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. This mixture alone would produce $750 million for highway projects over the next ten years without increasing fees or taxes.

Under his proposal, funding for the first year will originate from $40 million in allocated surplus funds—a combination of funds from fiscal year 2015’s unobligated surplus fund and the governor’s rainy day fund.  After funding obligations are met in the years following, 25 percent of unallocated surpluses will transfer to the Highway Department. Gov. Hutchinson is also calling for the transportation fund to draw money from sales taxes on new and used vehicles, which will cap out at $25 million, general revenue funds that are collected through diesel taxes, which totals around $4 million, and through state sales taxes garnered from the 12 cent highway sales tax that was passed by voters in 2012. The highway sales tax would also bring in $5.4 million.

In just his second year of office, Gov. Hutchinson demonstrates that you can address significant short and long-term transportation needs without raising taxes. ATR applauds the governor’s efforts to improve government efficiency through existing revenue streams and urges lawmakers to pass his budget.  


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Annapolis Mayor Mike Pantelides Aims to Extort Ridesharing Customers

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Posted by Dennis Cakert on Monday, February 8th, 2016, 6:21 PM PERMALINK

Mayor Mike Pantelides has proposed an ordinance to fleece ridesharing customers in Annapolis. Rather than deregulate the taxi industry, Mayor Pantelides has elected to charge every ridesharing customer an additional $0.25 on every ride they take.


In May, Maryland state passed a bill which granted Maryland counties and municipalities the power to tax transportation network companies (TNCs). The $0.25 per ride tax is the maximum amount Mayor Pantelides is authorized to extract.

The state bill details the flow of new tax revenue generated from TNCs. First, the state authorizes counties and municipalities to levy a tax on every completed ride. TNCs are required to collect the tax from their drivers and submit to the state comptroller “the assessments and other revenues collected by the transportation network company on behalf of the transportation network operators"

“Assessment” is defined earlier in the bill as “A charge imposed by a local jurisdiction on each transportation network service."

The tax revenues are gathered from all Maryland municipalities and counties into one “Transportation Network Fund” operated by the state treasurer. The fund is then redistributed from the state back to the municipalities and counties where the ride took place. The bill does not specify any further where the funds are to be spent. In order to ensure compliance, the state is granted the power to inspect TNC’s records once per year.

Mayor Pantelides’ proposal takes cash out of customers’ pockets and redirects it through a maze of government bureaucracy and back into his own municipality’s hands, while failing to disclose how that money will be spent. City officials claim they are trying to level the playing field between taxis and TNCs. If that were the case they would deregulate the taxi industry, rather than extort ride sharing customers for $0.25 on every ride they take.

Mayor Pantelides proposal is on the agenda for tonight’s City Council meeting at 7pm. 

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Virginia Gov. McAuliffe Refuses to Recognize Ronald Reagan Day

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Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Friday, February 5th, 2016, 9:52 PM PERMALINK

This year 34 states -- four with Democrat governors -- issued proclamations recognizing the late president on his birthday. A notable omission from this list is Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.). who has refused to issue a Ronald Reagan Proclamation.

The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project asks governors from all 50 states to proclaim February 6 as "Ronald Reagan Day" annually. This year 34 states -- four with Democrat governors -- issued proclamations recognizing the late president on his birthday.

The Ronald Reagan Legacy Project  was founded by Grover Norquist in 1997.  This project is committed to upholding the legacy of the 40th President throughout the United States and abroad. To recognize his legacy, the project encourages the naming of buildings, landmarks, roads, and schools after the late President. There are currently 150 domestic dedications in 32 states and the District of Columbia, and 17 international dedications in nine countries

When Reagan ran for President in 1980 and 1984 he won in Virginia. Despite his popularity in the state, Governor McAuliffe has refused to issue a proclamation honoring President Reagan’s accomplishments and legacy. 

“McAuliffe ran for governor of Virginia, not to help the state, but to play politics for Hillary in 2016. While other states proclaimed Reagan's birthday, February 6 as "Ronald Reagan Day" McAuliffe churlishly refuses. A politician who never learned how to be a governor,” said Norquist.


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35 Governors Declare Feb. 6 as “Ronald Reagan Day”

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Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Friday, February 5th, 2016, 6:26 PM PERMALINK

Each year the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project sends requests to governors from all 50 states to issue a proclamation declaring February 6 "Ronald Reagan Day". This year, to celebrate Reagan's 105th birthday, 35 states -- four with Democrat governors -- signed official proclamations recognizing the late president.

Grover Norquist founded the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project  in 1997.  The project is committed to preserving the legacy of the 40th President of the United States throughout the nation and abroad, and also works to encourage the naming of buildings, roads, landmarks, and schools after the late President. There are currently 150 domestic dedications in 32 states and the District of Columbia, and 17 international dedications in nine countries. 


Norquist said: “Reagan reduced the size and scope of government, cut taxes for all Americans, and laid the foundation for economic prosperity. By the time he left office, America was freer, safer, and stronger in every way. And although he has been out of office for over a quarter of a century, he remains the leader his successors should emulate. “

The following 35 Governors have issued proclamations declaring today as Ronald Reagan Day in their states:

Alabama- Robert Bentley (R)

Arizona- Doug Ducey (R)

Arkansas- Asa Hutchinson (R)

California- Jerry Brown (D)

Colorado- John Hickenlooper (D)

Florida- Rick Scott (R)

Georgia-Nathan Deal (R)

Idaho- Butch Otter (R)

Illinois- Bruce Rauner (R)

Indiana- Mike Pence (R)

Iowa- Terry Branstad (R)

Kansas- Sam Brownback (R)

Kentucky- Matt Bevin (R)

Maine- Paul LePage (R)

Maryland- Larry Hogan (R)

Massachusetts- Charlie Baker (R)

Michigan- Rick Snyder (R)

Mississippi- Phil Byant (R)

Nebraska- Pete Ricketts (R)

Nevada- Brian Sandoval (R)

New Jersey- Chris Christie (R)

New Mexico- Susana Martinez (R)

North Carolina- Pat McCrory (R)

North Dakota- Jack Dalrymple (R)

Ohio- John Kasich (R)

Oklahoma- Mary Fallin (R)

South Carolina- Nikki Haley (R)

South Dakota- Dennis Daugaard (R)

Tennessee- Bill Haslam (R)

Texas- Greg Abbott (R)

Utah- Gary Herbert (R)

Vermont- Peter Shumlin (D)

West Virginia- Earl Ray Tomblin (D)

Wisconsin- Scott Walker (R)

Wyoming- Matt Mead (R)

There are 15 governors who have not issued a proclamation declaring Ronald Reagan Day in their states:

Alaska- Bill Walker (I)

Connecticut- Dannel Malloy (D)

Delaware-Jack Markell (D)

Hawaii- David Ige (D)

Louisiana- John Bel Edwards (D)

Minnesota- Mark Dayton (D)

Missouri- Jay Nixon (D)

Montana- Steve Bullock (D)

New Hampshire- Maggie Hassan (D)*

New York- Andrew Cuomo (D)

Oregon- Kate Brown (D) 

Pennsylvania- Tom Wolf (D)

Rhode Island- Gina Raimondo (D)

Virginia- Terry McAuliffe (D)

Washington- Jay Inslee (D)


*Still awaiting a proclamation from the Governor.



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