Friday, March 16, 2018

Gubernatorial candidates respond to bill lowering SQ640 threshold


Following the House passage of HJR 1050 yesterday, I reached out to all of the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian gubernatorial candidates for their comments on the topic of SQ 640 and changing the legislative vote threshold for raising taxes.

Here are their responses, in order of when I received them.


1) What is your position on Article 5, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution (aka SQ640)? 
(200 words or less)

Dan Fisher (R): I am a strong supporter of SQ640 and I will work to defeat any attempt to change it. I intend to make my voice loud and clear on this. SQ640 made it clear, the people want there to be a high threshold for their taxes to be raised. I stand with the people.
Todd Lamb (R): I support SQ 640.
Chris Powell (L): The people of Oklahoma passed SQ 640 because of their experience with state government and their desire to keep that state government in check.  Considering that our current state government is viewed even more negatively than it was at the time SQ 640 was passed, it seems counterintuitive to consider increasing it's power.  Further, it is a guarantee that if revenue is increased it will remove any incentive to reform spending and reduce waste, corruption, and crony capitalism.
Rex Lawhorn (L): SQ 640 was a result of the legislature doing just as the current legislature is attempting, and that's governing against the will of the people. It was a stern message passed by the citizens of Oklahoma to take back control over the legislative process in regards to law that most affects every Oklahoman, and that is their right to keep the fruits of their labor. If we are going to permit legislators to have any control over our lives, it should be with great restraint and complete transparency, and SQ 640 returned that control. It should never be easy to take away the rights from our citizens.
Connie Johnson (D): I support changing the threshold required to raise taxes and encourage the Legislature to give consideration to requiring the same threshold to lower taxes. In both instances, Oklahomans are ready to address the reality of and need for solutions to our state operating at a budget that is 15% of what it was in 2007, with 165,000 more people. Sending SQ 640 back to a vote of the people is one of several potential existing revenue streams. I challenge the Legislature to have the courage to immediately begin to factor in the fiscal impact of cannabis, wind and solar as new, renewable and sustainable revenue streams.
Gary Jones (R): I have said before I would not change the 3/4 requirement.
Gary Richardson (R): The people voted for SQ 640 in 1992 to essentially force any new tax increase to the vote of the people and it is working exactly as the voters intended. Without SQ 640, we probably never would’ve uncovered all the waste and corruption that has come to light at the Health, Tourism and Ag departments.
Kevin Stitt (R): [emailed saying they would respond, did not get back with me by publishing time] Stitt responded late with this: I’m not interested in changing the constitution. It should be hard to raise taxes; it shouldn’t be this hard to govern. I am running for governor because state government is fundamentally broken, and the answer to our crisis is new leadership and fresh vision.
Mick Cornett (R): NO RESPONSE
Drew Edmondson (D): NO RESPONSE
Joseph Maldonado (L):  NO RESPONSE


2) Do you support changing the threshold, and if so to what level? 
(100 words or less)

Dan Fisher (R): Emphatically NO!
Todd Lamb (R): I do not support lowering the threshold for SQ 640.
Chris Powell (L): I do not support reducing the 3/4ths threshold for the Legislature to raise taxes and if the issue is put on the ballot I will vote against it and campaign against it.
Rex Lawhorn (L): No, I do not support any change in the threshold. The government rules by the consent of the governed, and if the people want that threshold changed, they will propose and pass another State Question. Until that time arrives, the government should act within the constraints placed upon it by the people.
Connie Johnson (D): [no response to this question, but in #1 indicated she would change the threshold]
Gary Jones (R): [no specific response to this question, but in #1 said he would not change it]
Gary Richardson (R): No.
Kevin Stitt (R): [emailed saying they would respond, did not get back with me by publishing time]
Mick Cornett (R): NO RESPONSE
Drew Edmondson (D): NO RESPONSE
Joseph Maldonado (L):  NO RESPONSE


3) If HJR1050 makes it onto the ballot as written, will you vote for it, or against it? 
(10 words or less)

Dan Fisher (R): Against it.
Todd Lamb (R): I would vote against it in its present form.
Chris Powell (L): Against it.
Rex Lawhorn (L): Against. I will actively campaign against it, as well.
Connie Johnson (D): [no response to this question, but in #1 indicated she would change the threshold]
Gary Jones (R): [no specific response to this question, but in #1 said he would not change it]
Gary Richardson (R): I will vote against it.
Kevin Stitt (R): [emailed saying they would respond, did not get back with me by publishing time]
Mick Cornett (R): NO RESPONSE
Drew Edmondson (D): NO RESPONSE
Joseph Maldonado (L):  NO RESPONSE

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