Fallin praises Supreme Court OK of car sales tax increase

Gov. Mary Fallin praised the liberal Oklahoma Supreme Court for its recent decision to uphold a seemingly unconstitutional vehicle sales tax increase.

“I appreciate the Supreme Court ruling on this matter in an expeditious manner,” said Fallin, who campaigned against tax increases when she first ran for governor. “This ruling provides us with clarity in dealing with this fiscal year’s budget. While pleased with today’s ruling, it’s important to keep in mind we must still deal with the immediate problem of the loss of $215 million from the earlier high court ruling that struck down the proposed smoking (tax increase). The $215 million represents just state funds, but with the loss of matching federal funds state agencies estimate the total is nearly $500 million.”

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz, R-Altus, was happy that the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional House Bill 2433, a bill raising taxes on the sales of Oklahoma vehicles.

“As the Senate has maintained, this measure is constitutional and it’s gratifying to know that the Oklahoma Supreme Court agrees,” Schulz said. “With the decision finalized, we now know the full extent of the revenue picture that needs to be addressed during a potential special session. The Senate will continue to work closely with the governor and the House to finalize a plan to make up the $215 million in revenue lost in an earlier court decision.”

State Rep. and House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, is running for governor and is in favor of huge tax increases.

“(This) court ruling presents a mixed bag for Oklahoma voters,” Inman said. “While avoiding another loss of $100 million to the current year’s budget, the ruling has empowered this Republican majority to raise the taxes of middle class families without honoring the will of the Oklahoma citizens who passed State Question 640 in 1992.

“While I disagree with the majority opinion, in that the new car tax was clearly passed exclusively for the purposes of raising revenue, it’s important to note that we still have a $215 million gap for this fiscal year created by the unconstitutional cigarette tax and an even bigger hole to fill when we begin the Legislative session next year.

“A potential silver lining in today’s ruling, it appears the court has now opened the door to increasing, with only a majority vote in the Legislature, the gross production tax exemption that has served as a road block to the Oklahoma standard rate of 7 percent. The time is right to remove the artificially low gross production tax rate of 2 percent.”