OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma voters would decide whether to amend the state constitution make it easier for the Legislature to raise taxes under a bill that cleared its first hurdle Wednesday.
The Senate Rules Committee approved a resolution asking voters to reduce the current threshold for passing a tax increase from a three-fourth’s majority of the Legislature to a three-fifth’s majority. The proposal would only apply to sales taxes.
If Oklahomans sign off at the ballot box, they would undo a previous amendment setting current legislative majority that voters approved in 1992.
The current three-fourth’s majority requirement for tax increases proved to be a major stumbling block for lawmakers who wanted to approve tax hikes to fund a teacher raise and stabilize the budget.
The bill now moves to the full Senate.
Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday signed into a law a budget that that imposes across-the-board cuts to state agencies for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. The $6.98 billion general appropriations bill reduces monthly allocations to all state agencies by about 2 percent for the final four months of the fiscal year, or about 0.66 percent when annualized.
Fallin blamed the failure of the tax increase package on Democrats who opposed it, although opposition to the plan was bipartisan.
Democrats maintained the Republican-backed series of tax increases on cigarettes, motor fuel and energy production placed too much of the burden on working-class Oklahomans. They wanted to include an increase in the income tax on high earners and a higher tax on oil and gas production.