Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

House Republicans Propose Compromise to Car Tag Bill

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

House Republicans Propose Compromise to Car Tag Bill

Article excerpt

House Republicans put on the table Thursday a compromise phased- in car tag proposal, similar to one offered earlier this session by Gov. Frank Keating.

"We are willing to suggest and accept a compromise on the car tag bill," said House Minority Floor Leader Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City.

The difference is that the $110 million GOP plan would phase in the car tag portion of House Bill 2663, the Democratic tag bill Keating vetoed Wednesday. Keating suggested a phase-in of House Bill 2702, the original Republican tag plan authored by Rep. Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville.

Neither of the new proposals proposal would change the way the motor vehicle excise tax is levied, a feature of the Democratic bill, which moved Keating to veto it. It changed the tax from a levy on the factory delivered price of a car to the actual sales price. The measure also provided for a graduated exemption for used cars.

"We cannot accept the $83 million excise tax increase," Hiett said Thursday.

The vetoed bill would have cost a net $22.3 million, the Hiett bill $138 million.

The new GOP proposal would phase in tags for the oldest cars first. Beginning Sept. 1 of this year, the tags for autos 13 years of age and older would come under the plan. Tags for vehicles 17 years and older would cost $15, those for cars and pickups aged 13 to 16 years old, $35. Cost of this first phase would be $10 million.

The next phase would kick in July 1, 2001, when the tags for automobiles nine to 12 years of age would drop to $55, at a second- year cost of $39 million.

The third and final phase would be two-pronged. Beginning Jan. 1, 2002, tags on cars five to eight years old would be a flat $75. On July 1 of that year tags for cars up to four years old would cost $85.

The fully implemented cost of the three-year plan would be $110 million.

"I think this makes everyone happy," said Morgan, "a smaller first-year impact as the Democrats want, but no tax increase for used car buyers, which I think would satisfy the concerns of Governor Keating and certainly the House Republicans. We can emerge from the Capitol this year in a bipartisan fashion, giving the Oklahoma people what they want."

By agreeing to the three-year phase-in, Hiett said that the Republican Caucus is addressing Democrats' concern about a car tag cut's impact on this year's budget.

"We're willing to give the Democrats everything they want except the increase in excise taxes on used cars, which we believe negates the whole reason for the car tag reduction," Hiett said. "With this proposal, there's no reason we can't pass legislation to lower car tags and save money by sundown."

Morgan said he hopes Democratic lawmakers accept the GOP offer.

"We readily understand the difficulties of making a car tag plan work with the last-minute budget constraints, but we hope our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will understand our concerns about the higher taxes placed upon used car buyers, and join us in solving the car tag problem," the GOP leader said. …

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