Oklahoma

Economy, Energy, Natural Resources: Policy to People

Rural Doctor Training Program One of $853 Million Ways to Pay for an Income Tax Cut

Logan Layden / NPR StateImpact

Russell Kohl, a family practice doctor in Vinita, received about $40,000 in state subsidies while he was in medical school. Some lawmakers have proposed un-appropriating the program, which incentivises rural doctors, to help pay for cutting the personal income tax.

Cutting Oklahoma’s income tax means cutting into the single largest source of state tax revenue.

Many of these income tax-reduction plans count on the expectation that other tax revenues — like the sales tax — will increase as Oklahoma’s economy prospers under a reduced income tax.

But spending cuts are a big piece of the pie, and the backers of one phase-out plan have issued a list of what should be axed, including a state commission to increase the number of doctors practicing in rural Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is short on rural doctors, and the Physician Manpower Training Commission is one of few agencies Gov. Mary Fallin wants to give more money to.

Despite a mostly flat 2013 budget proposal, Fallin and her administration have proposed giving the commission more than $3 million to establish 40 new residency programs to train physicians in rural parts of the state.

The commission is one of several that could be non-appropriated to help pay for phasing out the personal income tax, some backers of House Bill 3038 proposed.

“This is not a slash-and-burn mentality,” Rep. Tom Newell, R-Seminole, told the Journal Record’s 23rd and Lincoln Blog.

Still, the list of what they’d cut (below) is long.

[bill id="HB 3038" state=ok session="2011-2012" align=right]

The proposal would eliminate state appropriations for several agencies, including the Space Industry Development Authority, the Horse Racing Commission and the Native American Cultural Education Authority.

It would also end funding for state golf courses, the Red Earth Festival, the Tulsa State Fair, several rodeos and a roping championship.

And more than a half-dozen tax credits — including film incentives, coal credits and historic rehabilitation credits — would be allowed to expire.

… plus numerous individual agency reforms. It also calls for several higher education changes, reports the Journal Record.

[State Rep. Leslie] Osborn said the legislators’ proposal would require $525 million in cuts over a two-year period, although the list totals $853 million.

Click here to read OCPA's list of wasteful state spending that could be cut.

The group of lawmakers — which includes Reps David Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow, and Charles Ortega, R-Altus — said their list was based on a similar report the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs released last week.

The OCPA, a conservative think-tank, outlined $2 billion in savings.

The plan … would generate more than half of the savings by cutting appropriations to state colleges and universities, and forcing poor people to pay more for health care. The plan also eliminates funding for things like state fairs, rodeos and state-operated golf courses, the Associated Press reported.

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