Oklahoma State Senate

Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105


For Immediate Release: May 8, 2003

Audio Clip

Senator James A. Williamson and other Senate GOP leaders discuss
House Democrats' Tax Proposal

Senate Republicans Oppose House Dem Sales Tax Increase,
Challenge Henry and Senate Dems to Announce Positions

State Capitol, Oklahoma City – At a press conference Thursday, Senate Republican leaders announced their caucus’s opposition to a proposal by House Democrats to target a variety of services with new sales taxes, and challenged Governor Brad Henry and Senate Democrats to publicly state where they stand on the controversial issue.

“House Democrats have proposed a wide list of new sales taxes on everything from title and abstract services for homebuyers to employment services to parking lots. This is a job-killing proposal that would damage the weak Oklahoma economy. Senate Republicans cannot in good conscience support placing this additional burden on Oklahoma taxpayers who are already hurting in a tough economy,” stated Senate Republican Leader James Williamson, R-Tulsa.

The House Democrats’ tax increase proposals were cherry-picked from a tax reform task force’s proposal from 2002, which were part of a major overhaul of Oklahoma’s tax structure to make it more attractive for economic growth and private sector job creation. The House Democrats’ proposal includes sales tax increases on services, but does not include the job-creating income tax reductions and capital gains tax reductions the task force recommended for economic growth.

Assistant Senate Republican Leader Scott Pruitt questioned why the House Democrats would propose a tax increase after a bipartisan budget agreement had already been reached.

“The bipartisan state budget agreement already includes nearly a quarter-billion dollars in revenue enhancements without increasing taxes. Combined state and local funding for education will be at the highest level ever next year. Health care funding is being increased in the budget. Total state spending is being reduced, but by less than one-percent from this year. Do House Democrats really believe this is a crisis that justifies hurting Oklahoma families and businesses with a major tax increase?” queried Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow.

The Senate Republican Leaders challenged Governor Brad Henry to state whether he will stand by his campaign position or will switch his to support the House Democrats’ tax increase proposal.

“Governor Henry criticized Steve Largent for saying he would consider adding sales taxes like these in exchange for job-creating tax reductions as part of a comprehensive tax reform package. Now House Democrats are proposing these tax increases, but and the governor remains silent. We challenge the governor to tell us if he will be consistent with his campaign promises, or if will join House Democrats and support increasing taxes on the people of Oklahoma,” stated Williamson.

Williamson also challenged Senate Democrats to publicly state their position.

“We have heard Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson say he favors a general sales tax increase, but we have not heard him publicly state the Senate Democrats’ position on the House’s targeted sales tax increases. We can only assume that his silence is a sign that Senate Democrats support this proposal,” Williamson said.

“Despite the bipartisan cooperation of Democrats and Republicans on the state budget agreement earlier this year, there remains a significant difference in philosophy on the future of state government. Democrats want to grow government, while Republicans want to grow the economy and create jobs,” Williamson concluded.

Williamson disputed the Democrats’ claim that their proposal is exempt from State Question 640, which require a ¾ legislative majority or a vote of the people to increase taxes.

For more information, contact:
Sen. James A. Williamson
Republican Leader
(405) 521-5624

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