February 17, 2012
The Edmond Sun
EDMOND — Gov. Mary Fallin defined her governorship on Feb. 6 and cemented her legacy as a leader. In her State of the State address, Fallin laid out her vision for how Oklahoma can grow or lead in several important areas.
Nowhere in that speech did she throw down the “my way or the highway” gauntlet to legislators or the people of Oklahoma. No, she truly offered a multi-point plan that offers opportunity for discussion that could bear rich fruit for our state.
Her speech was thoughtful, insightful and at times provocative. But nowhere was she more bold than in outlining her income tax elimination plan.
In offering an income tax reform plan that could take up to 15 years to fully implement, Fallin was careful to find ways to protect the state’s poorest and neediest citizens. She’s found a responsible way of approaching this necessary reform while putting everyone on notice that changes are coming and they may not be without some pain along the way.
The governor left room for bipartisan negotiations on the plan as well. The income tax elimination plan may not be perfect, but Fallin has offered legislators the opportunity to look at ideas of how to get there in a way that keeps tax credits for the poor in place until the very end.
Like former Gov. George Nigh, Fallin is showing she understands that the governor’s office may not always have the power to enact every campaign promise or great idea. But when a governor exhibits true leadership they can accomplish much for the people of Oklahoma.
Fallin told Oklahomans that water rights, our health and more business-friendly reforms are the things we need to think about and she’s right. And if we can eliminate the income tax without raising ad valorem taxes we can maintain our status as one of the most successful states coming out of the recession.
We don’t have to be a Kansas or a Texas to achieve economic success, we can hopefully set the Oklahoma standard in this arena as well.