Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yes, let's move state taxation to the school bond process

Yesterday, State Rep. Harold Wright (R-Weatherford), the number two Republican in the State House, announced that he was filing a bill to call a state question that would amend the Constitution to lower the legislative revenue-raising threshold from 75% to 60%.

His argument is that this would be in line with the 60% requirement in school bond issues: "This is why I am proposing legislation that would put to a vote a change in the revenue-raising requirement in the constitution that would lower the requirement to 60 percent, the same as a school bond issue. Many agree that this would be a fair compromise and still make it difficult to raise revenue."

I would fully support changing legislative tax raising abilities in line with the school bond process. Let's compare how taxes can currently be raised in Oklahoma:

Taxation at the state level:
  • The legislature can raise taxes only with 3/4ths vote in favor
  • The legislature can send taxes hikes to a vote of the people, where it passes with majority vote (50%+1)
  • Taxes can be raised with majority vote (50%+1) via initiative petition

County sales taxes:
  • Cannot be raised by the county commissioners
  • Must go to a vote of the people
  • Can pass with a majority vote (50%+1)

For school bond elections:
  • School districts cannot raise tax rates
  • Bond increases or renewals go to a vote of the people
  • School bonds require a 60% vote in favor

I appreciate Rep. Wright's suggestion that we change how the legislature can tax to the process school bonds go through

If we did that, the Legislature would be unable to raise any taxes, would be required to bring tax increases to a vote of the people, and such ballot measures would necessitate 60% affirmative vote for passage.

Count me on board with that.


Richard Harris said...

The legislature has already proven that they are unable to control the funds they currently receive from taxation. I would argue the opposite. Make all tax raising legislation be approved by a vote of the people. This would be a way to route out the special interest groups who finance the politicians and and basically control the state government as it is.