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Mazzei Minute: 6/30/22

Oklahoma Republicans gave a big stamp of approval to Governor Kevin Stitt, who received 69% of the vote to once again be the Republican nominee for a second term as governor. Conservative voters clearly like a business-minded leader who wants to foster economic growth and be frugal with taxpayer dollars.

For months, Governor Stitt has touted the goal of tax relief for hardworking Oklahomans who are suffering under the burden of inflation. 248,278 Oklahoma Republican voters seem to agree with him. So, the question now is what kind of tax reform makes the most sense for the state of Oklahoma?

My personal preference has always been for Oklahoma to do the hard work necessary to become a no-income-tax state. The data is quite clear that the states with the fastest economic growth and largest population growth are no-income-tax states and low-tax states. Thousands of Americans are leaving high-tax states like New York, California, and Illinois and moving to no-income-tax states like Florida, Texas, and Tennessee.

Some of these taxpayers on the move are coming to Oklahoma as well, but not quite enough. Tennessee’s economic growth from 2010 to 2020 ranked 14th in the country with 43.37% GDP growth while Oklahoma ranked 43rd with 21.89% GDP growth. We should pay attention to the Tennessee model.

Incrementalism, however, is sometimes a necessary approach to politics, so another path to being a low-tax state may involve the elimination of the grocery tax, the corporate income tax and the franchise tax. State policymakers will get to choose one of these two paths for Oklahoma to be more attractive to the thousands fleeing high-tax states.

Governor Stitt’s turnaround program has certainly added new momentum and growth potential for the state. His next challenge will be to listen, talk, and collaborate with other Republican leaders on the right tax structure with a stable revenue base for Oklahoma to join the Top 10.


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