Friday, February 10, 2017

Russell Turner: Don't bite Fallin's "bait"


It has been quite a while since I have had the time to go fishing, but fishing is like riding a bicycle, once you have done it you always know how. I can remember going crappie fishing on Lake Tenkiller; the most effective way to catch the big one was to put a minnow on your hook and wait for mister slab to come along. From my perspective going fishing has a lot in common with today’s politics.

A couple of days ago our Oklahoma Governor gave her State of the State Address. While her speech had the usual feel good line, there were several items in the speech that I have some serious concerns about. In her speech she proposed to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries; she made the claim that removing the state sales tax would save the average family something over 300 dollars per year. While many people may think that is a good thing, there are other parts of the speech that will have some very serious ramifications. She proposed increasing several existing taxes on cigarettes, gasoline and diesel while also creating new taxes on other items. While she was a little vague on the idea of taxing services, she did make the comment that she wanted to revamp our tax system because our system, in her words, is shifting to a service economy. There are proposals before the legislature that would impose taxes on services that all Oklahomans use such as barbers, auto mechanics and nearly everything we all use on a daily basis.

Governor Fallin and I are both republicans, but I am going to be very blunt on the reasons why I cannot support her proposals. I am a conservative, to me that is more than just something that is printed on some slick, colored brochure. Conservatism is the belief of less government and personal freedom; I also believe that the more money we can keep in the private sector the more our economy will flourish. Her plan to remove the state sales tax on groceries is nothing more that bait. Her and her kind are planning on the uninformed citizen to bite at that hook while ignoring the massive tax increases that all of us will be facing. I can guarantee you that if the tax on services passes we will all be paying far more than any saving we may get from not having to pay state sales tax on groceries. Throughout all parts of our state there are individuals we all rely upon who work on our autos repair our houses, and cut our hair; these individuals would be forced to start collecting a sales tax on their labor. Many of them will simply go out of business because they don’t want the headache of dealing with the paperwork. I have known several people that started their businesses out of their garage; not all, but some of them, eventually grew into a full time business. It seems every year or so this same ill-conceived idea rolls around, the government in its insatiable desire for more money is discouraging the very people that eventually will build our economy. I can also guarantee you that when the oil and gas industry thrives again none of these new taxes will ever be repealed.

Before we Oklahomans bite into the bait of the cheaper groceries, we need to remember what happens to the old slab crappie that bites the little minnow.      

Russell Turner is a businessman, farmer, and conservative activist from Adair County, where he served one term as county commissioner.


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