Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: State Senator Says TABOR Is Not Going Away

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: State Senator Says TABOR Is Not Going Away

Article excerpt

Rejection by the Oklahoma Supreme Court of the initiative petition to put State Question 726, which would have placed a Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, commonly referred to as TABOR, on the ballot in November, has not deterred state Sen. Randy Brogdon, R- Owasso. He vows to continue the fight.

After the court's recent decision declaring the petition's lack of valid signatures, he pledged to form a new organization either to circulate another petition or seek legislation to put the proposed constitutional amendment before the people.

He faces serious opposition. Numerous business leaders and powerful business groups apparently have decided to join tax- consuming interests in the philosophy that bigger and more expensive government is better.

They set a goal of $2 million to help defeat TABOR had it gotten to the November election ballot. They promised to continue their opposition to any effort Brogdon tries to make.

At the core of the issue is restricting government spending to an index applied to the amount of money appropriated by the Legislature for the previous year. This would be determined by the state's population growth combined with the rate of inflation. Under no circumstances could the amount be less than the previous year.

Essentially it is designed to limit the growth of government spending. Opposition leaders claim this is too restrictive, even though spending by Gov. Brad Henry and the Legislature had grown by 32 percent over the past two years, in spite of the constitutional limitations already in place, which have been adopted by the people over the past 65 years.

The 2006 state budget was 12 percent above the previous fiscal year, and for the current fiscal year it is 18 percent higher. This was made possible by strong economic growth and larger tax revenues, particularly from the gross production tax on oil and gas.

Justification for the additional spending by the business and tax consumer groups was the dip in the economy and tax revenues for 2003 and 2004, when the state failed to meet estimated revenues and its rainy day fund was depleted so cutbacks in spending had to occur.

They argued TABOR would not have allowed the state to make up for those two bad years. …

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