Friday, November 02, 2018

They voted to make it easier to raise your taxes. Vote accordingly.

In 1992, Oklahoma voters revolted against higher taxes and passed State Question 640, a constitutional amendment that attacked the ease with which tax increases had historically been passed. SQ640 required revenue-raising measures to either be passed by a majority vote of the people (50%+1) or a 75% vote in both houses of the Legislature, rather than a simple legislative majority as had been the practice.

Big government advocates and tax hogs have complained about it ever since.

As legislative Republicans began abandoning their conservative principles over the past few years in the face of tough fiscal choices, they increasingly started to talk about gutting SQ640 and lowering the standard for revenue-raising measures.

Until this past year, no outright tax increase had achieved that 75% hurdle, although hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes had been raised through other means (votes of the people, fees, and other loopholes). To be fair, few outright tax increases had been attempted. Nevertheless, the 75% hurdle did not prove to be "impossible" as tax fans had decried.

At the beginning of the 2018 legislative session, efforts began in earnest to actually reduce the revenue-raising threshold and gut SQ640's constitutional language. House leadership filed a measure (HJR1032) to drop the threshold to 3/5ths (60%), and then a new measure (HJR 1050) to change it to 2/3rds was brought to the floor.

All of this continued to ignore the fact that a statewide vote of the people only requires a bare majority of 50%+1 vote. Legislators continue to fear placing tax increase measures before the voters, counting instead on short memories to cover up their legislative voting records.

HJR 1050 made it to a vote. An amendment was submitted to reduce the tax-hike vote threshold from the proposed 2/3rds back down to 60% (like HJR 1032). That amendment failed, although a shameful 39 Republicans voted for it. The next vote saw 44 Republicans join 7 Democrats in passing the bill.

That brings us to this election. Three Republicans on the ballot for statewide office voted to gut SQ640 and make it easier for the Legislature to raise your taxes.

State Reps. Randy McDaniel, Glen Mulready, and Leslie Osborn all voted to change the tax-raising requirement from 3/4ths to 2/3rds. Glen Mulready voted to move it even lower to 3/5ths (McDaniel voted against, Osborn skipped the vote but in all likelihood would have voted yes).

McDaniel is running for State Treasurer. He is facing off against a lone Independent candidate, Charles De Coune.

Mulready is running for Insurance Commissioner. He is facing a Democrat, Kimberly Fobbs.

Osborn is running for Labor Commissioner. She is facing Democrat Fred Dorrell and Independent Brandt Dismukes.

After the House passed HJR 1050, current Insurance Commissioner John Doak slammed the Republicans who voted to gut SQ640, saying that it was "hard to believe this vote has happened in Oklahoma", and "our party needs to govern by continuing to increase efficiency and effectiveness of limited government and lowering taxes not making it easier to raise by lowering the threshold of votes needed." Several county Republican parties (including Muskogee County) passed resolutions opposing the effort to make it easier to raise taxes, as did other conservative organizations.

This betrayal of the Oklahoma taxpayer should not be rewarded by promoting these individuals to higher office. McDaniel and Mulready are cordial and well-meaning, and generally conservative, but legislative votes have consequences. This was a major transgression. Osborn has many flaws, including her targeting of conservatives and endorsement by the AFL-CIO, and this is just one more to add to the pile.

None of these three Republicans will be getting my vote this election. I haven't completely decided whether I'll simply not cast a vote in their races, or if I will vote for their opposition, but I absolutely will not lend them my vote. That's no loss to them, as I'm sure they'll all three win by large margins, but principles matter, and betrayal of principles also matters.

Remember this at your ballot box and vote accordingly.

On a side note, at least 16 of the other Republicans who voted against the Oklahoma taxpayer are on the ballot for re-election. Check the betrayal list here.


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