In an effort to justify an ill-advised veto of car tag reform legislation, Governor Keating is cooking the books in a futile attempt to show that HB 1734 increases vehicle tags and fees rather than decreases them. Figures from the Oklahoma Tax Commission show the opposite.
"Not only is Governor Keating trying to cheat Oklahoma motorists out of millions of dollars in tag savings, he's misleading them in the process. He knows he has a tax cut on his desk, but he'd rather mislead the people and kill their only chance for car tag reform," said Senator Stratton Taylor, President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate.
According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, HB 1734 will be revenue neutral in its first year, but will quickly become a tax and fee reduction as the reform legislation kicks in, eventually adding up to $53 million in savings for Oklahoma motorists after the ninth year of implementation.
Despite the OTC numbers, Governor Keating insists HB 1734 is a tax increase, claiming it will actually raise "automobile fees" by $128 million.
Where Governor Keating got that number is a mystery because he hasn't produced any documentation to substantiate it or to refute OTC statistics.
The Senate leader challenged Keating to show the public the numbers.
"I think the people of Oklahoma deserve to see the mystery numbers he's using to justify killing this tax cut. I suspect he either pulled those numbers out of the air or he used some kind of Daxonian formula to concoct them. It just demonstrates how desperate Governor Keating is to deny Oklahoma motorists any relief on their annual tag bill," noted Senator Taylor.
Senator Taylor noted that Senate Republicans didn't have any problems recognizing HB 1734 as a tax cut. All but two of them voted in favor of it.
"The Senate Republicans know a tax cut when they see one. I can't understand why Governor Keating is so willing to ignore the obvious. Apparently, he's content to be a 'do nothing' Governor when it comes to meaningful tag reform.
"Under HB 1734, tag fees would be calculated on the age of a vehicle rather than a percentage of its value. For example, for vehicles five years old or less, annual tags would cost $85. For vehicles between six and ten years of age, a tag would cost $45. Any vehicle older than ten years would qualify for a $15 tag."
The legislation leaves Oklahoma motorists with a simple choice, according to the Senate leader.
"If you want your annual car tag bill to be $85 or less, support HB 1734. If you want to pay hundreds of dollars for a license plate each year, support Governor Keating," said Senator Taylor.