Currently seniors in Oklahoma who make less than the county median income can apply for a property tax increase exemption annually, but few Oklahoma seniors know that or bother to apply for the exemption. Reynolds proposed to tie the freeze to age, which would make it easier for seniors. Reynolds got his resolution to a floor vote twice. The first time it failed, but a member of the Senate has the option to having it voted on again.
SJR 57’s encore vote came up on Thursday and was defeated by a 25-22 margin. Four Republicans joined Democrats to defeat the proposal. Reynolds understands Ds not supporting the issue, but not the Rs. "If I have any frustration, it’s with members of my own party,” Reynolds said. "It’s been hard to get some members to understand the issue. I have fought for this issue for nine years at the Capitol. I did it when the Democrats were in control of the Legislature,” Reynolds said. "Republicans have always said they support tax relief. Now that we have the majority, it’s like pulling teeth.”
I share Reynolds frustration with the Republicans whose vote on SJR 57 in effect expanded government. Three of those Republican Senators are up for re-election in 2010- Senators Anderson, Crain, and Schulz. I’m not sure if any have announced primary opponents, but if so, this vote will hurt them with conservative Republicans in a primary. With the current anti-government sentiment among voters, votes against stopping the growth of government could keep them from getting re-elected. Some Republicans in the legislature are so obsessed with getting re-elected, or afraid of crossing the education and county government lobby, they don’t deserve to have an ‘R’ behind their name
First, the proposal would not cost the state, schools or county government any money. Reynolds proposal would only stop the growth of taxes, not cut them. One of the arguments made by Republicans who voted to defeat the resolution was that it would hurt their county government and schools. Rural counties have higher percentages of seniors, so some rural Rs wrongly believe their counties will be hurt more because of the ‘potential loss of future income.’ I fail to see how ‘stopping the growth’ of taxes is a bad thing. Aren’t Republicans all about standing up against the growth of government and taxes?
Second, even if you disagree with the resolution, what’s wrong with sending it to a vote of the people? Nothing! But some in the legislature (including the aforementioned Republicans) recognize the resolution would be approved by voters by a wide margin. Those legislators are more interested in trying to appease the education and county government lobby than they are about standing up for the seniors in their district. Legislators that display such lack of courage are RINOs- Republicans In Name Only- and should face tough questions about this vote from not only seniors, but every fiscal conservative.
To add another twist to the vote, Senator Kenneth Corn, (D-Poteau) switched his vote from Yea to Nay at the last minute. Like John Kerry, Corn was ‘for’ the freeze before he was ‘against’ it. Senator Glenn Coffee, (R-OKC), said Corn "owes every senior citizen in the state an explanation of his flip flop on this important vote.” The vote will likely hurt Corn who is running for the Democrat nomination for Lieutenant Governor.
Bottom line, this week Oklahoma seniors on fixed incomes needed help and the Oklahoma legislature failed them. These seniors wanted a chance to vote on stopping the growth of government. Sadly some members of the legislature failed to give them that chance.