OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma organization has announced that it is no longer seeking to repeal tax hikes that went into effect this weekend.
On June 11, the Oklahoma Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two challenges to a referendum petition to repeal House Bill 1010XX.
The bill, which passed in March, raises taxes on cigarettes, motor fuels and some oil and gas production. The money earned from the tax hike was designated to be used to fund a pay raise for teachers across the state.
The petition to repeal the bill was championed by the group ‘Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite!,’ which has been backed by former U.S. Sen. Dr. Tom Coburn.
“It is easy to pass a tax increase. It’s easy to spend other people’s money,” Coburn said in March. “There’s lots of areas where we can go and find the money. That’s not the problem. The question is do you have the leadership that will go and do it? That’s my complaint.”
Last month, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the petition was invalid.
"The gist of Referendum Petition No. 25 is misleading for multiple reasons, any of which would suffice alone to declare it insufficient. Combined, these flaws leave no doubt that signatories are not being put on notice of the changes being made," the ruling states. "Further, the failure to include an exact copy of the text of the measure to be referred violates a strict statutory mandate that exists to ensure signatories and voters are put on notice of exactly what law is potentially going to be submitted for their approval."
However, the justices noted that Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! still had enough time to try and create a new petition before the July 18 deadline.
On Monday, Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! announced that it would not create a new petition.
"Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! wants to put the education community at ease, as we will not refile a referendum petition to veto the largest tax package passed by the Oklahoma legislature in state history. In spite of the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling the tax package was not tied to the teacher’s pay raises, rising above the narrative the media and the unions pushed stating otherwise was impossible. If a lie is spoken often enough people believe it as truth. The veto referendum was never about the teacher’s pay raise, it was always about the unnecessary and burdensome taxes placed on taxpayers.
The deadline for signatures remains the same and with deadlines for filing protests to an additional petition, it does not allow time for a new referendum petition. In an effort to usurp the will of the people and SQ640, Oklahoma’s activist Supreme Court slow walked the decision invalidating the Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! petition, ignoring the Attorney General’s opinion, using minor technicalities to invalidate the petition.
We started with and stand by the Oklahoma Taxpayer Platform and the Oklahoma Taxpayer Pledge. Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite! makes no apologies for standing in the gap and we will continue our mission to be a voice for taxpayers," the group said in a statement.