Monday, January 18, 2010

Benge Opposes Property Tax Cap Reductions


State House Speaker Chris Benge (R-Tulsa) is putting his foot down when it comes to decreasing the percentage property taxes can increase annually. State Rep. David Dank (R-OKC) and State Sen. Jim Reynolds (R-OKC) have refiled legislation that would set the property tax increase cap at 3%, as opposed to the current 5% cap.

The Senate Republican Caucus has made the issue a plank in their agenda for the upcoming session; the House GOP did not do so. Speaker Benge was similarly opposed to the measure last year.

In a leaked memorandum, Dank criticized the Speaker for referring to the proposed legislation as "tax cuts". It seems that in a manner similar to the Democrats' outrage in 1995 over cuts in school lunch programs (that were actually reductions in increases, but still increases), Benge was characterizing the move as tax cuts.

It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this worthy legislation. Far too often, the 5% cap becomes an automatic increase every year, which is not the intention of the law. And just as often, counties count on that 5% increase, and scream bloody murder at the prospect of that increase being somewhat smaller.

Benge can talk about the budget crisis as much as he wants, but these are still annual tax hikes - not tax cuts. It's time that the cap was lowered, for the good of property- and home-owners across the state.

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