Oklahoma City – Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson, speaking at Wednesday’s education rally at the state Capitol, made a surprise proposal for a one-cent sales tax increase on Oklahomans and pledged to rally fellow Democrat senators to support his tax hike proposal.
Senator James A. Williamson, R-Tulsa, the Senate Republican Floor Leader, called the tax hike a “partisan proposal” and said it was a “non-starter” for budget negotiations.
“Senator Hobson’s proposal is a very disappointing break from the bipartisan cooperation we have enjoyed in the Senate on budget issues so far in this session. Senate Republicans will work to defeat a sales tax hike, but our caucus does remain open to some of Governor Henry’s fee proposals. Not even Governor Henry supports raising the sales tax,” Williamson said.
“This is nothing more than an attempt by Senator Hobson to hold education funding hostage in exchange for a tax increase. A sales tax hike during a slow economy will only compound our economic problems and could send our state back into recession, further hurting state revenue collections,” stated Williamson.
Williamson said Republicans are standing by their proposal to have an immediate vote on the FY 2004 education funding bill, and to send it to Governor Brad Henry no later than March 1.
“By funding education first and sending the education bill to the governor before March 1, the education budget will be spared from the usual budget games at the state Capitol. It will also allow local school administrators to properly plan next year’s school budget,” Williamson said.
“Senator Hobson’s real goal is not to raise taxes for education. He wants to raise taxes so he can continue to fund big government. By funding education first, we can take education off the table and work the remainder of the session on the rest of the FY 2004 budget. Without education to hold hostage, Senator Hobson won’t be able to force a false choice between cutting education and raising taxes. We can fund education without raising taxes by funding it first,” Williamson said.