Republican budget could draw court’s attention (KTUL News)

By David Norris

Governor Mary Fallin wants more money in the budget. Trouble is, lawmakers can’t do that. At least not in a tax increase kind of way.

Last week was the deadline.

But Gene Perry with the Oklahoma Policy Institute said Republicans think they have a way around it.
“They can call a fee, or eliminating a deduction, rather than increasing a tax,” said Perry.

Remember that tax on cigarettes the Republicans wanted? Now, instead of a tax, they’re calling it a fee. They say doing that makes it legal to introduce and pass the bill during this final week of the legislative session.

Another idea from Republicans is to limit the amount of money a person can itemize on taxes.

“So if you itemize, rather than doing the standard deduction on your taxes, you cannot itemize more than $17,000,” said Perry.

Those are just two examples of what the Republicans are planning in the budget. And Perry said they’d only need a simple majority to get it through the house.

But Perry said it leaves one question unanswered.

“It that going to stand up in court?” said Perry.

Should it pass, Democrats have vowed to take the matter to court where a judge could end up tossing part or all of the budget.

“And unless they come back into special session and come up with a new plan, that could mean some big budget cuts across the board to every state agency and service,” said Perry.

If a special session is needed, taxpayers would foot the bill.

“It’s been estimated to be about $30,000 per day. And that’s just to pay for all the legislators’ per diem payments and all the legislators’ staff to be there,” said Perry.

Perry said no matter the outcome, the budget problem hasn’t been fixed. Those affected will have to wait another year for any hope of change.


Margaret (Maggie) den Harder obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Theology from Seattle Pacific University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. Originally from the Pacific Northwest area of Washington state, Maggie has called Tulsa home for the past 8 years. Since living in Tulsa, Maggie has worked in the legal field, higher education administration, and the nonprofit sector as well as actively volunteering in the community. Maggie also recently spent time at the City of Tulsa as a consultant and wrote the content for Resilient Tulsa, an action-oriented strategy designed to better equity in Tulsa. Through her work, community involvement, and personal experiences, Maggie is interested in the intersection of the law and mental health and addiction treatment issues, preventative and diversion programs, and maternal mental health, particularly post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis. While working at Oklahoma Policy Institute as a research intern, Maggie further developed an interest in family dynamics and stability, economic security-related stress, and intergenerational trauma.

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