Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Looming Supreme Court Ruling On Revenue Bills

  The legislative leaders and governor are acting willfully delusional. They have this notion that as long as they don't utter the dreaded 't' word (tax), then they can pass any revenue bill at any time and with only a mere majority of  the yeas & nays.
  About 25 years ago, the people of Oklahoma did an end-run around our own arrogant legislature by passing a citizen initiative ballot question. The result was an amendment to our state constitution which requires...
 "any bill intended to raise revenue to be submitted to a vote of the people at the next general election before it can be enacted".
  An alternative enactment can be expedited if 75% of the full authorized membership of both houses and a governor's signature.
   But in neither case can those proposals be passed in the last 5 days... Even with 100% support!
  The panic of these past weeks has been the bureaucratic fear that the current funding levels of state government cannot be secured without the new money raised by these revenue-raising bills.

​   Absolutely no one believes these tobacco bills, car sales tax bills, petroleum production taxes, or any number of other rushed schemes is about anything other than grabbing money from the taxpayers.

  The only case history we can cite on this issue is from last year. But in that case the judges simply ruled that eliminating a refundable credit (corporate welfare) was not raising revenue, because the effect did not result in a taxpayer owing any taxes.  That decision was split 5-4, none the less. It was no different than cutting a welfare spending program.
  But this new group of expected cases will be well presented by a vast collection of the left and right. It If the filings and briefs are presented within the next ten days, we may see oral arguments within 4 weeks.
By July 1st, there may be a complete scrapping of a whole class of statutes. That would certainly bring panic to the whole of state agencies and lead the governor to call an immediate special session.  This will no doubt have a detrimental impact on the popularity of the state's elected officials. It could lead to a political earthquake in the 2018 general elections.
  If the legislature believes the pressure was intense this last few weeks, there will be a crucible awaiting them before the July heat wave settles in on Lincoln Blvd., in Oklahoma City.

from Sooner - Editorial

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