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There's an old adage that says if you tax something, you get less of it. This basic economic principle served as the driving force behind President Ronald Reagan's push for income tax cuts ? since our nation had seen less and less prosperity during the 1970s under the weight of a crushing tax burden.
A boom followed Reagan's tax cuts, and our nation experienced its longest period of economic expansion yet.
Now, here in Oklahoma, we have another choice to make about taxes. I think the old adage can serve us well once again.
In September, Oklahoma voters will decide on State Question 723, which asks whether to hike the gas tax in our state.
I agree with gas tax proponents that our roads and bridges are in sorry condition. But their prescription is not the cure. The last thing we need to fix the problem is a tax hike.
If you've topped your car tank off a time or two this summer, you may have noticed that you're already paying enough for the privilege of driving.
Taxpayers in Oklahoma already pay plenty in motor fuel taxes, and more taxes would create an economic drain on our state (not to mention your pocketbook).
And consider the historic new investment the Oklahoma Legislature made this year toward fixing our crumbling roads and bridges.
This year we passed a plan that boosts investment in road and bridge construction and maintenance ? eventually reaching $170 million every year. This money will be locked in, and can't be redirected toward some other purpose.
And the professional engineers ? not the politicians ? will decide where to spend this money. In other words, we won't see four-lane highways built for pork barrel purposes.
The new plan is a wise investment after years of neglect, and it will reap dividends for our state in future years. We accomplished this with a fiscally responsible approach, without raising taxes.
We also committed to fully fund what's called debt service obligations.
Simply put, in the late 1990s bonds were issued for various transportation needs in our state. But until now, your state government wasn't properly paying down the debt on those bonds.
By funding the debt service, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will see an immediate $21 million increase for construction and maintenance. And we also boosted funding for public transit programs throughout the state.
All told, transportation funding in our state will more than double over the next five years.
After this historic year in which we finally put Oklahoma's transportation needs at the top of the state's to-do list, why would anyone now want to pass a tax hike on your gas purchase?
It makes no sense.
Remember, if you tax something you get less of it.
Oklahoma needs more people earning more money, driving the economic engine of our state.
We don't need more taxes.
Vote no on State Question 723, and say no to the push for a fuel tax hike.
Thad Balkman serves as state representative for District 45.
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