Oklahoma legislators: End the state’s penalty on work for teachers

Workforce recruitment and development are challenges for states. State governments offer many programs to address shortages in particular professions or incentivize expansion into specific industries.

Many of these programs, by their existence, acknowledge that a state’s income tax burden — its “penalty on work” — is a hindrance when it comes to attracting jobs, business and workforce talent.

In Oklahoma, for a number of reasons, we have a shortage of classroom teachers in some areas. Comparisons are often made between teacher compensation levels in Texas versus Oklahoma. But salary differ-ences are just part of the story. Texas also doesn’t penalize the hard, valuable work of teachers by strapping them with a personal income tax. Texas is a no-income tax state. Oklahoma is not.

Oklahoma should level the playing field by eliminating income taxes for teachers and paraprofessionals in prekindergarten through 12th grade.

There are benefits to lowering taxes on productive activities. The state of Washington touts its lack of an income tax as an advantage in recruiting tech and aerospace talent. In similar fashion, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has placed a moratorium on a host of taxes for new businesses that come to his state.

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