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Have I Traveled to a Parallel Universe?

In every movie and television episode I can think of where the protagonist somehow travels to a parallel universe, one of the chief differences is that those who are good and bad have swapped roles. I’m outing myself as a Trekkie here, but the most notable example I can think of is the original Star Trek series episode, Mirror, Mirror, in which Captain Kirk and others accidentally swap universes with their counterparts. Kirk suddenly finds that the Federation is a conquering empire and his ship, the Enterprise, is a battleship sent on a mission of domination and murder.

I haven’t yet worked out the science of it how it happened but I think I may have been transported to a parallel universe.

For weeks now the news from the Oklahoma state capitol building has been proposal after proposal to increase ‘revenues’ by various methods. Let’s pause for a moment here and dispel the euphemism, ‘revenues,’ and call it by its true name, taxes. Anytime you read or hear someone say the word ‘revenues’ just automatically replace it word the word ‘taxes’ and you’ll have an accurate description of what they’re saying.

And now to the reason I suspect I’m in a parallel universe. The Republicans in the state legislature are the ones proposing tax increases and the Democrats are in opposition to some of them. In all my years I never thought I would see the day come when Republicans propose tax increases and the Democrats say no. Sure, it’s because they want to increase taxes in other areas, but the fact remains that Democrats are actually opposing some increases in taxation.

It’s actually been difficult lately to keep up with all the different ways Republicans are proposing to soak their constituents.

Oklahoman – Oklahoma lawmakers on Monday advanced higher cigarette and motor fuel taxes, but politics could get in the way of the increases becoming law.

Republican leadership rolled out the two tax increases in a single bill. They’ll need at least a handful of Democrats for it to pass the House floor, but Democrats have vowed to block a cigarette tax increase until there’s an agreement to also raise the tax rate on oil and gas production.

The minority party has criticized the motor fuel tax as having a disproportionate effect on poor and middle-class families.

House Bill 2365 levies an additional tax of $1.50 per pack of cigarettes and 6 cents on each gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel. With $340 million in new tax revenue, lawmakers could fill more than a third of next year’s budget shortfall.

House Bill 2367 repeals a discount given to online retailers who handle sales tax remittance. It would raise $14.1 million if it becomes law.

House Bill 2367 is a blatant tax increase on consumers. Of course these retailers are going to pass on the added taxes to their customers and I will never believe the legislators don’t know that.

Another proposal is House bill 2403, which limits itemized deductions to $17,000 per year for the fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019. This is a $101.8 million tax increase on Oklahomans.

Yesterday, a bill advanced out of a budget committee that would suspend the state’s back-to-school sales tax holiday.

KFOR – The House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget narrowly passed SB 862 Monday evening by 13-12 margin that would suspend the state’s sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping. Five Republicans joined the committee’s seven Democrats in opposing the measure.

According to Rep. Kevin Wallace and budget committee vice-chair, suspending the holiday for 2017, 2018 and 2019 would bring in about $7.4 million, annually.

Again, I note that the Democrats were unanimously opposed.

Now, please don’t get the idea I’m of the opinion that Democrats in the legislature are gurus of fiscal responsibility. Hardly. Some of their proposals are even worse than those of the Republicans.

No, neither party is scoring points with me this year. Increasing my tax burden in order to repair budget woes wrought by fiscal irresponsibility will never go over well with me. To my mind, Oklahoma Democrats have always been antithetical to economic stability. This year it seems the Republicans in our state legislature are trying their best to outdo the Democrats.

So here I am in the parallel universe, watching the antics on Lincoln Boulevard and wondering by what method the Republicans will extract more of my money from my wallet over the next year. If only I could get back to the real universe, where Oklahoma Republicans exercised fiscal responsibility, weren’t profligate in their spending and actually passed legislation that left a few extra nickels and dimes in my pocket. If only this legislative session really was a Star Trek episode and we knew that by the end of the show, all would be right with the universe.

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