Consumer confidence continues to rise in Oklahoma with the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the U.S., Treasurer Ken Miller said Wednesday at the state Capitol.
“We added jobs at 3.5 times faster than the national average for the year,” Miller said.
Oklahoma’s economy looks good for 2012 with room for optimism with December revenue receipts up 11.1 percent more than the same period in 2010, Miller said. This marks the 22nd month of continuous improvement, he said.
Oklahoma’s gross state product is projected to grow by 4.6 percent, while the U.S. gross national product is expected to grow by only 2.2 percent, Miller said.
“The fourth quarter was up 10.5 percent from the quarter last year,” Miller said. “And the total 12-month collections were up about 9.6 percent.
The 12-month collection period was $1.3 billion more than the recession’s low point of 2010, he said. Personal income tax collections rose by 16 percent. Corporate profits are strong with a December tax revenue increase of 92 percent, he added.
“Since we started our recovery, about 68 percent of the revenue that we lost since our peak in December, 2008, has been recovered,” Miller said.
Oklahoma has the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the U.S., according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Jobs were added in the state 3.5 times faster than the national rate in 2011. The state’s unemployment rate improved to 6.1 percent from 6.9 percent.
Oklahoma needs an optimal, bold and new tax structure, Miller said. Devising a new tax structure that is more competitive with other states should reward productivity and entrepreneurship, he continued.
The Oklahoma Policy Institute recently criticized a task force report to Gov. Mary Fallin that favors eliminating the state income tax while implementing funding cuts, heavier property and sales taxes.
“Despite claims in the report, there is little evidence that income tax cuts lead to economic growth when the only alternatives are increasing other taxes or cutting vital public sector supports needed by businesses and citizens alike,” said Oklahoma Policy Institute Director David Blatt. “Simply put, the math does not add up. The report’s suggestions on taxes would make permanent the state’s current budget woes and cripple our ability to meet our obligations in the years ahead.”
Miller said discussion to eliminate the state’s income tax is only beginning. Bold tax reform needs to be endorsed at the ballot, Miller said.
“If we’re good at anything at the Capitol, we’re good at studying things. That’s the easy part,” Miller said.
Miller said he does not support changing the tax structure because of easy politics. Implementation is the hard part of reform, he said. Rarely is someone willing to actuate reform, that is conducive to improving income and quality of life, Miller said.
“For me what needs to dominate the debate is economics,” he said. “It’s not politics — it’s not ideology — it’s economics.”
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