Claremore Daily Progress

State/Nation

July 9, 2013

Attorney maintains tax cut bill unconstitutional

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Besides cutting the state’s top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, beginning in 2015, House Bill 2032 also diverts $120 million in income tax collections over the next two fiscal years to pay for improvements to the state Capitol. The bill was authored by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, and was part of a three-way agreement between the House, Senate and Gov. Mary Fallin, who has long championed a reduction in the state income tax.

A major overhaul of the nearly 100-year-old Capitol, including upgrades to the electrical and plumbing systems, also has been a priority of Fallin and legislative leaders. Yellow barricades have been erected in front of the 400,000-square-foot building to prevent pedestrians from approaching the south side of the Capitol, where large chunks of limestone have fallen from the building’s facade.

Fent, who has successfully challenged the Legislature before, said he doesn’t argue that that the Capitol doesn’t need to be improved, he just questioned the way in which lawmakers chose to do it.

“It’s probably a very worthwhile cause to get some money to fix the Capitol building,” Fent said after Tuesday’s hearing. “However, they need to do it constitutionally.”

Albert, a referee for the state’s highest court, will synthesize the arguments of both sides into a secret report that is presented to the nine-member Oklahoma Supreme Court, along with the court filings in the case. The court can then issue a ruling based solely on the filings and Albert’s report or choose to hear arguments itself before making a ruling.

If the court strikes down the bill, the practical effect would be to delay or derail major renovations of the state Capitol. Because the income tax reduction is not scheduled to take effect until 2015, with a separate cut planned for 2016 if certain revenue triggers are met, the Republican-controlled Legislature would simply have to pass another income tax cut bill when the session begins in February.

Funding the estimated $120 million or more needed to overhaul the Capitol could be a more politically thorny issue, since Shannon and the increasingly conservative House have been resistant to the idea of issuing bonds, even to pay for infrastructure improvements.

Text Only
State/Nation
  • Perry: Texas plans to send 1,000 guardsmen to border

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry plans to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to South Texas to bolster security along the Mexico border, a local lawmaker confirmed Monday.

    July 21, 2014

  • NASA renames building for Neil Armstrong

    NASA has honored one of its most famous astronauts by renaming a key building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

    July 21, 2014

  • New arrivals worry some in the Oklahoma panhandle

    A family who says they were excommunicated from Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect has moved to a small city located in the Oklahoma Panhandle, raising concerns among some residents.

    July 20, 2014

  • Celebrate 45 years since man's first steps on the moon

    Now's the time to get moonstruck.

    Forty-five years ago Sunday, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on another world. Armstrong's "one small step ... one giant leap" on the dusty lunar surface July 20, 1969, still stirs hearts.

    July 20, 2014

  • US outlines case against Russia on downed plane

    Video of a rocket launcher, one surface-to-air missile missing, leaving the likely launch site. Imagery showing the firing. Calls claiming credit for the strike. Recordings said to reveal a cover-up at the crash site.

    July 20, 2014

  • Oklahoma Capitol renovation project previewed

    State officials have previewed preliminary plans for renovating the century-old Oklahoma State Capitol amid a display of artifacts from groundbreaking ceremonies for the structure.

    July 17, 2014

  • House passes tax breaks to boost charitable giving

    The House passed a package of tax breaks Thursday designed to boost charitable donations by seniors, private foundations and procrastinators.

    One provision provides tax breaks to people over 70 who make donations from their individual retirement accounts. Another reduces excise taxes on private charitable foundations.

    July 17, 2014

  • Should online accounts die when you die?

    Should your emails, web albums and other online accounts die when you do? Or should you be able to pass them down to a family member much as you would a house or a box of letters?

    July 17, 2014

  • Obama, Putin discuss Malaysia Plane incident

    The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama have discussed the Malaysia Airlines plane incident over eastern Ukraine.

    July 17, 2014

  • Microsoft cutting 18,000 jobs

    Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its history Thursday, saying it will cut 18,000 jobs or 14 percent of its workforce as it streamlines its Nokia mobile device business to focus on using the Windows Phone operating system.

    July 17, 2014