The Norman Transcript

Homepage

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
New and Developing

Headlines
Sports

Opinion

Features

Must Read

Big 12 Media Days
Video
Obama Offers Condolences at Dutch Embassy Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Raw: Lawmakers Scuffle in Ukraine's Parliament The Rock Finds His Inner 'Hercules' Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Raw: MH17 Passenger Remains in Kharkiv, Ukraine Raw: Israel Hits Gaza Targets, Destroys Mosques ShowBiz Minute: Hoffman, Oberst, Box Office WWII Vet Gets Medals, 70 Years Late Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong
Business

Photos


Facebook