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Oklahoma House bill would make it easier to raise taxes

January 9, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A Republican leader of the Oklahoma House wants voters to amend the state constitution to reduce the threshold of votes in the Legislature required to approve tax increases to 60 percent of members.

The current threshold is 75 percent of lawmakers and Republican House Speaker Pro Tempore Harold Wright said that requirement is so steep it has stymied efforts to provide for core services such as roads and bridges, public safety, education, public health and corrections. He has filed Legislation to change it.

In November, a plan to raise taxes to plug a hole in the state budget fell five votes short in the 101-member House.

“This has been the most difficult legislative year since I was elected,” said Wright, who is serving his fifth term. Lawmakers have repeatedly failed to raise new revenue to fill budget shortfalls caused by years of declining revenue from oil and natural gas production and tax cuts.

Wright’s legislation would change the requirement to pass revenue-raising measures to three-fifths of the Legislature, or 60 percent, the same threshold required for a school bond issue.

“Many agree that this would be a fair compromise and still make it difficult to raise revenue,” Wright said.

Similar measures have been unsuccessful in the past, including Democratic legislation last year that asked voters to change the revenue-raising threshold to a simple majority of lawmakers.

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