Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hike in Minimum Assessment Opposed

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Hike in Minimum Assessment Opposed

Article excerpt

Two Okmulgee County lawmakers are sponsoring legislation to sidetrack a proposed hike in the minimum property tax assessment ratio from 11 to 15 percent.

State Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, and State Rep. M.C. Leist, D-Morris, also have introduced a bill to guarantee income tax deductions to Oklahomans who make donations to public education foundations.

Shurden on Wednesday filed a senate joint resolution that calls for a public vote on changes at the Oklahoma State Board of Equalization. The measure, co-sponsored by Leist, would strip the board of its authority to raise the minimum ad valorem assessment ratio allowed for use by county assessors.

The lawmakers said their intent is to sidetrack the proposal by education Task Force 2000 to raise the minimum ratio and hike property taxes by about 36 percent.

If passed by the Legislature and voters, the measure would declare null and void any board actions taken after Nov. 1. The board is scheduled to set the 1990 minimum ratio at its Dec. 1 meeting.

The resolution would also change the membership of the seven-member board to reduce the governor's influence.

The Commissioner of Agriculture, who is appointed by the governor, would be replaced by the Commissioner of Labor, who is elected by statewide voters.

If the lieutenant governor ceases to be an independently elected official, as proposed in an upcoming constitutional question, his spot on the board would be replaced with the elected insurance commissioner.

"Property tax hikes proposed by Task Force 2000 and endorsed by the governor would be devastating to the elderly and others on fixed incomes, not to mention the farmers and ranchers and small businesses that are struggling," Shurden said. …

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