During the Depression, a prominent fundamentalist Baptist preacher in Fort Worth showed up at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with sacks full of groceries for the professors. The preacher brought along the local newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, to capture his benevolence when in reality he detested the seminary. He claimed seminary professors were nothing more than a bunch of liberals; which meant they did not support his fundamentalist's views. As he strode up to the front porch of one of the professor’s, newspaper cameras started clicking to capture the moment. The preacher stretched out his arms offering one of the sacks to a professor. The professor looked at the bag, then looked at the preacher that had spent so much energy making horrible allegations against him and his colleagues. The professor sighed and took a deep breath. He stretched out his hand to receive the groceries. While doing so, he proclaimed loud enough for the newspapers to hear, “Sir, these times are so difficult for our families and us at the seminary that I do believe I would take groceries from the devil, himself, if he showed up at my front porch.”
In the state of Oklahoma, wealthy business leaders have proposed and touted the “Step Up Oklahoma” plan to raise tax revenue. While on the surface this strategy appears to be benevolent, the gross production tax is moving from 2% to 4% on future wells during their first 36 months of production; it is a bit perplexing. According to The Oklahoman, after 36 months of production, rates would increase to 7% - the percentage many would like to see on well-production without the 36-month waiting period. So, this proposal leads to many questions. Why three years? What happens within the first three years of production that makes it acceptable for a tax increase afterward? Do wells produce more within the first three years? How many run-dry within three years? Sadly, I hate to say it, but something is not adding up in Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, as I have watched the politics of this state unfold over time, I am quite confident the “Step Up Oklahoma” plan will be adopted and eventually become law. Therefore, with Oklahoma business leaders patting themselves on the back, politicians scurrying to lend their support, educators wondering what to do, and the rest of us citizens holding our noses, I merely have this one thing left to say. In times such as these, when tax decreases that have brought our state to such a low point (decreases that business leaders and politicians have supported over the last decade) if the devil himself were to show up at the capitol with a tax increase to support education, I guess I would take it.