The Norman Transcript

State/Region

December 18, 2013

Oklahoma Supreme Court shoots down income tax cut

OKLAHOMA CITY — A sweeping agreement among Republican leaders to slash the state’s personal income tax rate and provide $120 million for repairs to the Capitol is unconstitutional because the bill passed by the Legislature contains more than one subject, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

In a unanimous decision, the court said the legislation violated the Oklahoma Constitution’s ban on logrolling, or including multiple subjects in one bill.

“Taxation policy and the appropriation of state funds for Capitol improvements are not germane, relative or cognate to a readily apparent common theme and purpose,” Justice James Winchester wrote in the opinion. “A voter could certainly be for one measure and not the other but forced to approve the entire bill in order to pass the desired legislation.

“The single subject rule prohibits this unpalatable choice.”

The bill, which represented a major political victory for Fallin, would have cut the state’s top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, beginning in January 2015, with a second cut to 4.85 percent set for 2016 if state revenues rose to certain levels. It also would have diverted $120 million in income tax collections over two years to fund an overhaul of the nearly 100-year-old Capitol, including upgrades to the electrical and plumbing systems.

But the bill, which was passed earlier this year, was challenged by Jerry Fent, a retired Oklahoma City attorney with a long track record of successfully challenging legislative actions. Attorneys for the state had argued the measure was constitutional because it dealt entirely with managing taxes.

Fallin, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman and House Speaker T.W. Shannon all issued statements Tuesday expressing disappointment with the court’s ruling and vowing to address the issue in the 2014 session.

“Today’s ruling was a huge blow to Oklahoma families who have been expecting tax relief, and I’m deeply disappointed the Supreme Court has once again ruled against the interests of those families,” Shannon, R-Lawton, said in a statement. “I am prepared to act quickly with legislative leaders and the governor to restore what the Supreme Court has undone.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State/Region
  • Oklahoma City Memorial Bombing museum gets tech boost

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A memorial and museum built to remember the worst act of domestic terrorism on American soil is in the midst of a $7 million upgrade so it can better portray how different the world was when Timothy McVeigh blew up the ...

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S. puts off pipeline decision

    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is putting off its decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, likely until after the November elections, by extending its review of the controversial project indefinitely....

    April 19, 2014

  • Sonic plans expansion

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma-based Sonic Corp. plans to open 1,000 new drive-in restaurants nationwide over the next 10 years, expanding the chain by about 30 percent, the company said....

    April 19, 2014

  • Fallin disappointed SBAdenied loans

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin said Thursday she is disappointed that a federal agency denied a request for loans to businesses in two Oklahoma towns affected by an emergency bridge closure....

    April 18, 2014

  • Oklahoma Senate approves limits on abortion drug

    OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Senate voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to further restrict the use of abortion-inducing drugs in Oklahoma in a bill written in direct response to a recent state Supreme Court decision....

    April 16, 2014

  • March Oklahoma revenue misses mark by 9.1 percent

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma’s finance secretary says collections by the general revenue fund fell 9.1 percent below the official estimate in March....

    April 16, 2014

  • University of Tulsa researchers find new species

    TULSA — A salamander first discovered by a University of Tulsa doctoral student in 2011 is being hailed as a new species in an international journal for animal taxonomy....

    April 16, 2014

  • Oklahoma House passes state trooper pay raise bill

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers could get their first pay raise in seven years under a plan given final legislative approval Tuesday, though it remains unclear whether money will be available in the overall state budget to ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Barresi decries plan to eliminate Okla. tests

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma State Superintendent Janet Barresi is raising concern about a bill before the Legislature that would eliminate state testing in social studies and geography....

    April 16, 2014

  • State-mandated minimum wage draws ire across state

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Organizers seeking a higher minimum wage in Oklahoma are upset with Gov. Mary Fallin’s decision to sign a bill that prohibits cities in the state from establishing mandatory minimum wage or vacation and sick-day ...

    April 16, 2014