State Sen. Jim Reynolds said he was extremely disappointed that Oklahomans have been denied the opportunity to vote to slow increases on their property taxes. Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, said despite the fact that Senate Joint Resolution 5 was approved earlier this session by both the Senate and the House, it is unlikely that the measure will be sent to the Secretary of State to be placed on the ballot.
SJR 5 was sent to a conference committee after the Senate rejected House amendments. While Senate conferees signed off on the final version, the House members did not. Reynolds said it is unlikely they will release the bill before the 2009 session ends.
“House Speaker Chris Benge must be credited with effectively killing the bill. In doing this he’s denied seniors and hard-working Oklahomans the opportunity to voice their opinion on ever increasing property taxes,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds explained that in 1996, Oklahoma voters approved a five percent cap on property value assessments. “The intention was to keep the annual property tax increases under that cap, but instead, numerous county assessors have raised property taxes the maximum five percent each year.”
The lawmaker said if the situation remains unchecked, property taxes will double about every 14 years. Reynolds said it is one of the top concerns voiced by his constituents, especially those on fixed incomes.
“This measure simply would have enabled the people to lower the property value assessment cap from five percent to three percent,” Reynolds said. “My constituents have been begging for relief. I am devastated that we’re being prevented from doing anything to help them this year. But this is not over. I’ll continue to work through the legislative process, and if necessary we may pursue an initiative petition.”