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Bill Would Lower Threshold Needed To Raise Taxes In Oklahoma

Rep. Harold Wright (R-Weatherford)

A bill being filed for the upcoming legislative session would make it easier for lawmakers to raise revenue.

Representative Harold Wright is authoring House Joint Resolution 1032, which drops the threshold to raise revenue from 75 percent down to 60 percent.

“This has been the most difficult legislative year since I was elected. Partly because of two special extraordinary sessions but also because it has been impossible to pass necessary revenue measures to provide for adequate core services in Oklahoma: roads and bridges, public safety, education, public health and corrections."

In November, a budget bill in the state House of Representative fell just a few votes short of the 75 percent threshold. The failed vote doomed the bill, touted as a "grand bargain," to fill a $215 million budget hole, and eventually led to a second special legislative session.

The Weatherford Republican says he's concerned with the deep cuts to state agencies and core services that have occurred in the past few years.

"I think people expect certain things that need to be done, certain things that can't be done by private enterprise that have to be done by the state. We need enough money to do those projects and do those things. I think it's made it very difficult the last four or five years to take care of business."

Wright says his resolution would put tax increases on par with school bonds, which also need three-fifths support to pass.

In 1992, Oklahoma passed State Question 640, requiring revenue raising measures to get three-fourths support from lawmakers or a simple majority of voters.

If HJR 1032 makes it through the legislature this session, it would go to a vote of the people in November.

Michael Cross is the host of KOSU's Morning Edition.
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