Here’s this week’s Okie news, brought to you from across the country. If you think there’s something you think we should be reading, leave us a link.
- Gov. Mary Fallin and Republican legislative leaders finally agreed on an income tax plan that would take the state’s top rate from 5.25 percent to 4.8 percent in 2013 and 2014 late Thursday night. It would eliminate 33 tax credits and contain a trigger to further reduce the top rate to 4.5 in 2015 if the state saw revenue growth of 5 percent, the Tulsa World reported. From the World:
Gov. Mary Fallin said a tax cut must be a priority this year. The state has come out of a painful recession that has been hard on families and businesses, she said.
“We want to help our Oklahoma families,” Fallin said. …
Preston Doerflinger, Fallin’s secretary of finance, said he did not know how many residents would see a tax cut and how many would see an increase.
- The Wall Street Journal published an editorial calling on Oklahoma Republicans to pass an income tax cut, saying: “The case for a Sooner State tax cut has taken on new urgency because neighboring Texas has no income tax and Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska are working toward or have already enacted rate cuts this year. Oklahoma could soon be the highest income-tax state in the region…” It asserts “a cavalcade of lobbyists, including local Chambers of Commerce, teachers unions and welfare groups are fighting the tax cut” and that Senate Republicans are “letting the special-interest pressure get to them.” More:
Ms. Fallin ran for Governor in 2010 on the “no income tax” platform and believes she has a mandate to cut the rate as “low as it can go.” She’s right. If the GOP can’t deliver a tax cut when holding all the levers of power, voters may conclude that their trust in Republican politicians has been misplaced.
- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities refuted claims made in WSJ’s editorial on its blog, saying it “contains a slew of incorrect or misleading statements,” including that states without income taxes have had stronger economic growth than other states, states with relatively high income tax rates have faced the biggest budget shortfalls, and that no-income-tax states “manage to balance their budget nearly every year.”
- A group Chesapeake Energy Corp. investors are asking for additional information about CEO Aubrey McClendon’s personal finances, filing a lawsuit in U.S. District court asking for a postponement of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting and for “details of the CEO’s indebtedness to third parties said to have financed his investment in company oil wells, arguing it may have created a conflict of interest,” Bloomberg reported.
“The board has facilitated McClendon’s abuse of the company by permitting rampant conflicts of interest to go unchecked and undisclosed,” the investors said in their filing.
Miles-LaGrange told the defendants to file their opposition to the shareholders’ request by May 23 and set a hearing date of May 30.
- This Land contributor Denver Nicks, who wrote the groundbreaking portrait of Bradley Manning for our second issue, has turned that story into a book, published by Chicago Review Press. We’ll help him celebrate his book’s release with a signing on May 30 at Harwelden, but in the meantime, it’s been excerpted in The Daily Beast and Newsweek, and Nicks has been interviewed by CBS and Time magazine.
- A USA Today report says the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, allowed children to “play with tigers” and taught employees to “hit and whip the animals.” The Humane Society, which sent undercover investigators into the park to act as employees, released a report citing “dangerous public interactions” in which six people were bitten or scratched by tiger cubs. The report also claims mistreatment of animals by employees, saying “a ‘federally protected’ hawk was placed in a trash bin while still alive” and five tigers died last summer under suspicious circumstances. The park’s owner, Joe Schreibvogel, told The Oklahoman “the society has fashioned an elaborate publicity stunt targeting his park.”
- Woody Sez, the musical about Oklahoma legend Woody Guthrie, which was staged in Oklahoma City in 2009, is earning rave reviews in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this week. “When audiences give performers a standing ovation, sometimes it feels obligatory rather than congratulatory,” Open Media Boston wrote. “In the case of the four actor/musicians performing in Woody Sez at the American Repertory Theater in Harvard Square, the applause and accolades heard at Wednesday’s press opening were not only well deserved, they were rewarded with an encore.”
In “Woody Sez,” David Lutken portrays Guthrie as a loving son, brother, and father who witnessed a fair share of tragedy in his time but managed to persevere. In fact, Lutken and Corley, the two “devisors” behind “Woody Sez,” want audiences to understand – and get angry at – the class warfare that has been going on in this country since the Great Depression. But the takeaway, it seems, is much more positive: that is, for every act of desperation there is an equal and affirming moment of perseverance.
- Oklahoma isn’t the only state feeling the heat this year (and last). According to the National Climate Data Center, the last 12 months were the hottest on record. Since 1895. From Mother Jones:
In the US, the 12 months between May 2011 and April 2012 ranked as:
▪ the 2nd warmest summer on record
▪ the 4th warmest winter on record
▪ the warmest March on record
▪ during this time 22 states saw record warmth
▪ during this time 19 states saw top 10 hottest
—Holly Wall, News Editor