Bellmon: Property Tax Reform Is Main Issue / Higher Education Funding Also Needed, He Says

Article excerpt

Meaningful property tax reform is the main issue the Oklahoma Legislature needs to deal with before it adjourns, Gov. Henry Bellmon said Tuesday.

Bellmon also said funding of the state's higher education system, particularly endowed chairs, needs to be accomplished this session.

In his regular Tuesday press conference, Bellmon said the legislative agenda for the session had been discussed that day and the previous day in meetings with the legislative leadership.

"It has been suggested that the Legislature needs to pass appropriation bills and go home," he said.

But the governor believes that meaningful ad valorem reform and higher education funding, particularly endowed chairs, needs to be accomplished this session.

Bellmon's stand contrasts with his comments earlier in the year when he said he would not sponsor a property tax reform bill this year and would pursue property tax equalization through actions by the Oklahoma Equalization Board, which he chairs.

Bellmon said he likes the concept of property tax legislation introduced by House Speaker Jim Barker, D-Muskogee, and said legislative leaders do not need to worry about a gubernatorial veto if they ``send me a bill that makes sense.''

The Barker proposal calls for a vote of the people to decide if all property in the state should be assessed at 100 percent of its fair cash value with millages rolled back for a revenue neutral system.

The governor said in earlier press conferences that he agrees with some of the provisions of the ad valorem reform package. …

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