THIS year’s legislative session produced four months of dysfunction and incompetence. Following an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling striking down a cigarette “fee” as an unconstitutionally enacted tax increase, it appears some politicians want to put Oklahomans through that same wringer a second time.
To which we say: No thank you.
The loss of more than $200 million from the cigarette tax leaves the state budget out of balance. A special session is expected. Some lawmakers, mostly Democrats, want a special session to not only address the tobacco tax, but to engage in a full-blown do-over of this year’s regular session.
The comments of House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City and a candidate for governor, are typical. Following the court’s ruling, Inman called for the Legislature to reconvene and “draft a truly bipartisan and constitutional budget plan.” He dismissed a cigarette tax increase as a “Band-Aid” put on the “gaping wound of a budget hole,” and called for increasing the gross production tax rate by 250 percent and targeting unidentified tax credits for elimination.
The Senate Democratic caucus issued a release decrying pending cuts at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the Department of Human Services. They urged that “all revenue options” be “on the table” for debate in special session.
The Save our State Coalition, a group of left-leaning organizations, issued a statement supporting a special session and urging lawmakers to consider a plan previously released by the coalition. That plan endorsed raising income taxes, corporate taxes, cigarette taxes, fuel taxes, internet taxes, gross production taxes and imposing sales taxes on countless services for the first time.
But of all the tax options listed by the aforementioned politicians and groups, only one has strong public support: a tobacco tax.
Notably, the House…