Tag Archives: paycheck protection

Tax consumers working to prevent union dues reform

As the push for smaller government and greater economic freedom in Oklahoma continues, tax consumers don’t like it.

A notable success on behalf of taxpayers during Oklahoma’s 2015 legislative session was passage of House Bill 1749. The measure was a Scott Walker-style reform, enacting paycheck protection to safeguard taxpayers from government-sector unions that collectively bargain against state government agencies or school districts. (More on the reform here.)

Following the law’s passage, the Tulsa World reported the state’s leading teachers union was advising school districts that HB 1749 was unenforceable, and districts needed to continue processing union dues payments.

Now, however, it appears the unions are truly concerned the new law is enforceable. So they are taking legal action to try and stop it.

On Aug. 19, The Oklahoman reported the unions have filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court seeking to throw out the law.

Attorney General Scott Pruitt is now responsible for defending the new law, which is set to take effect Nov. 1.

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Mark Costello summed up the paycheck protection issue well in a Feb. 18 Tulsa World piece:

“One of the major reforms adopted in Wisconsin under the leadership of Gov. Scott Walker was to get government out of the business of collecting union dues. Oklahoma has a chance to follow Walker’s lead. . . . What union officials should not expect is for Oklahoma taxpayers to prop them up by using state and local government as their dues collection agency.”

For years, Oklahoma government unions were happy to let taxpayers facilitate their funding streams. Now, they don’t want the good times to end.

But Oklahoma taxpayers aren’t forced to facilitate membership dues to the National Rifle Association for an employee of state government or of a school district. Nor are they required to facilitate monthly tithes to an employee’s church.

In the same way, Oklahoma taxpayers should not be forced to facilitate dues payments for unions that aggressively lobby for more taxpayer money.

Results achieved in Oklahoma’s 2015 legislative session

Oklahoma’s 2015 legislative session concluded May 22. At OCPA Impact, we set four objectives prior to the start of session.

These were: (a) enact paycheck protection to safeguard taxpayers from out-of-control government-sector unions, (b) expand options for children to attend schools that best meet their educational needs, (c) advance reforms to reduce the cost curve of state government spending, and (d) continue working to end Oklahoma’s burdensome income tax.

Due to efforts by groups like OCPA Impact and Americans for Prosperity’s Oklahoma chapter – along with growth-minded state lawmakers – results were achieved on these items.

On Apr. 2, Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law House Bill 1749, a paycheck protection measure resembling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s reforms.

The new law prohibits Oklahoma state government from collecting dues for organizations that collectively bargain against taxpayers at the state agency or school district level. Taxpayers had previously been forced to facilitate dues collections for labor unions that funded extreme political causes.

This session also saw passage of House Bill 1693, updating the Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship, one of two private educational choice programs in Oklahoma.

Established in 2011, the scholarship gives parents access to better educational opportunities for their school-age children. This year’s update makes it easier for students from special populations, including disabled, homeless or abused children, to participate.

Proposals were also promoted to allow parents to utilize another option, Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), to place their children in more suitable educational environments outside the public system. The ESA issue advanced further this year than in 2014 and is alive for next spring’s legislative session.

Passage of House Bill 1566, a significant reform of Oklahoma’s Medicaid system, should help reduce the cost curve of state government spending.

Medicaid has become the fastest-growing area of state spending. Oklahoma’s Medicaid system is fee-for-service, with little emphasis on responsible individual behavior. This has led to cost overruns. The new reform begins a shift to a structure in which care is better coordinated among providers to improve health outcomes for beneficiaries, reducing costs.

There was also progress this session on responsibly ending Oklahoma’s “penalty on work,” the state income tax. With states like Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas reducing tax rates on working families and entrepreneurs, Oklahoma must compete.

Last fall, the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld the income tax reduction passed by lawmakers earlier in the year. Justices had been expected to throw out – but instead upheld – the reduction, which is still scheduled to lower Oklahoma’s tax rate to 5 percent starting Jan. 1, 2016.

This session, rumblings at the Capitol suggested lawmakers might cancel this tax relief so they could spend more money.

When a left-leaning, New York City pollster said Oklahomans didn’t want a tax reduction next year, numerous opinion surveys by Oklahoma firms were pointed to, debunking this myth.

In the end, lawmakers passed a budget that preserves the upcoming income tax reduction and keeps Oklahoma’s tax rate moving in the right direction – down.