Bypassing the will of people
The Oklahoman has decried recent attempts by special-interest groups to thwart the people’s will on issues like right to work and cockfighting. But could another popular constitutional provision also be in the crosshairs? In 1992 Oklahoma voters passed State Question 640, which requires a legislative supermajority to raise taxes. Nevada has a similar deterrent, but at the urging of the school employee labor unions, the Nevada Supreme Court this summer set a troubling precedent by suspending it. Indeed, in other states that have passed super-majority requirements to rein in the politicians, the tax-and-spend coalition is now trying to get state supreme courts to go in and do the dirty work, according to Citizens for a Sound Economy President Paul Beckner.
Could it happen here? A little-noticed news item earlier this year reported that Oklahoma’s largest school employee labor union is considering legal action to challenge SQ 640. Oklahoma Education Association President Roy Bishop was quoted as saying, “We’re going to do whatever it takes.”
Education appropriations have more than doubled since 1990, but for the unions it’s never enough. This situation is worth keeping an eye on.
Dutcher is research director at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank.