TABOR flunks legislative poll

It looks like Oklahoma’s state legislators are out of touch. Recent polling shows that the citizens of our great state favor the Stop Over Spending (SOS) initiative by around 70%. Our legislators, on the other hand, apparently don’t like the idea of not being able to spend, spend, spend. The following article, which ran in the 3/26/2006 edition of the Tulsa World, reports on a poll of legislators concerning SOS.

TABOR flunks legislative poll
By RON JENKINS Associated Press

A majority of state legislators surveyed — 86 out of 148 — opposes the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Most members of the Oklahoma Legislature oppose a planned ballot measure that would limit the growth of government spending.

Of the 148 lawmakers surveyed by The Associated Press, 86 were against the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights, 17 were in favor of it and 45 were undecided. There is one vacancy in the Senate.

State Question 726 would amend the state constitution to require that government spending increases be tied to a percentage based on inflation and population growth.

The secretary of state’s office has counted nearly 300,000 signatures in favor of putting the measure on the ballot. That’s about 80,000 more than needed to qualify the proposal for a statewide vote.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court will consider a legal challenge to the state question by business executives opposed to the measure, which is also known as TABOR.

More than two dozen plaintiffs are listed in the lawsuit, including George Kaiser, president and CEO of the Kaiser-Francis Oil Co.; Larry Nichols, CEO of Devon Energy; John Brock, chairman of Brighton Energy; Burns Hargis, vice president of the Bank of Oklahoma, and former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys.

At a Friday hearing with a Supreme Court referee, lawyers for sponsors of the petition said they hope the legal challenge can be resolved so the issue can go to this year’s November general election ballot.

Of the 101 members of the House, nine Republicans backed the initiative petition, 15 Republicans and 43 Democrats were opposed and 33 Republicans and one Democrat were undecided.

In the Senate, all 25 Democrats surveyed were opposed to the proposition, while eight Republicans favored it, three opposed it and 11 were undecided.

"If TABOR is enacted and made part of the Oklahoma Constitution, it will stop Oklahoma in its tracks. We will never have a chance to improve our state," said Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater.

"Ridiculous," is how Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, viewed that argument.

Brogdon said he isn’t surprised about the small number of his colleagues willing to publicly back the plan, saying he was "almost alone" as a supporter only a year ago.

A similar proposal was enacted in Colorado, where its supporters say it spurred the economy during the 1990s. But Colorado voters went to the polls last November and voted to suspend TABOR for five years so the state could build back essential services that suffered, particularly higher education.

Reps. Kevin Calvey, R-Del City, and Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City, are running for the Republican nomination in the 5th Congressional District and are among the minority of legislators publicly backing TABOR. Another is Sen. James Williamson, a Republican candidate for governor.

"We need to put government on a diet and that’s what the stop-overspending ballot initiative does," Calvey said.

Democratic Gov. Brad Henry said he prefers targeted tax cuts to lure capital investment and new jobs to the state over the TABOR formula. "It’s a debate worth having, but we need to look at the experience of Colorado," he said.

The Tulsa-based Oklahomans for Action led the signature-gather driving. The campaign was funded mainly by out-of-state groups, such as the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

Foes of the measure argue that Oklahoma is behind most other states in funding for schools, highways and other services and the proposal would not allow the state to catch up.

Supporters of the measure say too much government spending is bad for the economy and by reducing it and cutting taxes through rebates, the state and its economic fortunes will grow.

Some lawmakers, including Rep. Shane Jett, R-Tecumseh, and Rep. Ray Miller, D-Quinton, said they resent the fact that the petition drive was mostly funded by outside money.

"I don’t like any kind of outside think-tank setting Oklahoma policy," Jett said. "We are elected by our district to set policy based on what we think is best for them and best for the state."

Miller said TABOR is "backed by outside interest groups who don’t give a rip about Oklahoma" but are "just trying to experiment with our economy to see if it will work or not."

Brogdon said the state has more than doubled its budget in the past 10 years and restraining spending is logical because "government always wants more money."

"It’s the taxpayers’ money, not ours," added Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City.

TABOR legislative poll breakdown

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Here is a breakdown of the positions of the 148 members of the Oklahoma Senate and House on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights petition now in the Supreme Court. Lawmakers were asked if they favored TABOR, were opposed to it or were undecided.


Democrats for TABOR (0)

Democrats undecided (0)

Democrats against TABOR (25)

Tom Adelson of Tulsa
Randy Bass of Lawton
Bernest Cain of Oklahoma City
Gilmer Capps of Snyder
Kenneth Corn of Poteau
Johnnie C. Crutchfield of Ardmore
Mary Easley of Tulsa
Judy Eason McIntyre of Tulsa
Ted Fisher of Sapulpa
Earl Garrison of Muskogee
Jay Paul Gumm of Durant
J. Berry Harrison of Fairfax
Cal Hobson of Lexington
Constance Johnson of Oklahoma City
Charles Laster of Shawnee
Daisy Lawler of Comanche
Debbe Leftwich of Oklahoma City
Richard Lerblance of Hartshorne
Mike Morgan of Stillwater
Susan Paddack of Ada
Jeff Rabon of Hugo
Frank Shurden of Henryetta
Stratton Taylor of Claremore
Jim Wilson of Tahlequah
Charles Wyrick of Fairland

Republicans for TABOR (8)

Randy Brogdon of Owasso
Glenn Coffee of Oklahoma City
Clark Jolley of Edmond
Owen Laughlin of Woodward
Scott Pruitt of Tulsa
Jim Reynolds of Oklahoma City
Kathleen Wilcoxson of Oklahoma City
James Williamson of Tulsa

Republicans against TABOR (3)

Patrick Anderson of Enid
Harry Coates of Seminole
Mike Johnson of Kingfisher

Republicans undecided (11)

Cliff Aldridge of Midwest City
Don Barrington of Lawton
Cliff Branan of Oklahoma City
Brian A. Crain of Tulsa
John Ford of Bartlesville
Ron Justice of Chickasha
Todd Lamb of Edmond
Mike Mazzei of Tulsa
David Myers of Ponca City
Jonathan Nichols of Norman
Nancy Riley of Tulsa


Republicans for TABOR (9):

Kevin Calvey of Del City
Odilia Dank of Oklahoma City
Sally Kern of Oklahoma City
Fred Morgan of Oklahoma City
Mike Reynolds of Oklahoma City
Randy Terrill of Oklahoma City
Sue Tibbs of Tulsa
Paul Wesselhoft of Moore
Trebor Worthen of Oklahoma City

Republicans against TABOR (15):

Brian Bingman of Sapulpa
Bill Case of Midwest City
Dale Dewitt of Braman
Jeff Hickman of Dacoma
Shane Jett of Tecumseh
Rob Johnson of Kingfisher
Steve Martin of Bartlesville
John Nance of Oklahoma City
Ron Peters of Tulsa
Greg Piatt of Ardmore
Phil Richardson of Minco
Curt Roggow of Hillsdale
Daniel Sullivan of Tulsa
Susan Winchester of Chickasha
Mike Wilt of Bartlesville

Republicans Undecided (33):

Dennis Atkins of Tulsa
Don Armes of Faxon
Thad Balkman of Norman
Gary Banz of Midwest City
Chris Benge of Tulsa
Lisa Billy of Purcell
Gus Blackwell of Goodwell
Lance Cargill of Harrah
Marian Cooksey of Edmond
Ann Coody of Comanche
Doug Cox of Grove
Lee Denny of Cushing
Dale DePue of Edmond
Rex Duncan of Sand Springs
Chris Hastings of Tulsa
Todd Hiett of Kellyville
Terry Ingmire of Stillwater
Mike Jackson of Enid
Tad Jones of Claremore
Guy Liebmann of Oklahoma City
Mark Liotta of Tulsa
Doug Miller of Norman
Ken Miller of Edmond
Jim Newport of Ponca City
Fred Perry of Tulsa
Pam Peterson of Tulsa
Ron Peterson of Tulsa
John Smaligo Jr. of Owasso
Kris Steele of Shawnee
Mike Thompson of Oklahoma City
John Trebilcock of Broken Arrow
John Wright of Tulsa
Ray Young of Yukon

Democrats for TABOR: (0).

Democrats against TABOR (43):

Jari Askins of Duncan
John Auffet of Stilwell
Debbie Blackburn of Oklahoma City
David B. Braddock of Altus
Neil Brannon of Arkoma
Mike Brown of Fort Gibson
John Carey of Durant
James E. Covey of Custer City
Abe Deutschendorf of Lawton
Joe Dorman of Rush Springs
Jerry Ellis of Valliant
Joe Eddins of Vinita
Darrell Gilbert of Tulsa
Larry Glenn of Miami
Rebecca Hamilton of Oklahoma City
Terry Harrison of McAlester
Wes Hilliard of Sulphur
Terry Hyman of Leon
Ryan Kiesel of Seminole
Lucky Lamons of Tulsa
Al Lindsey of Oklahoma City
Mike Mass of Hartshorne
Ray McCarter of Marlow
Jeannie McDaniel of Tulsa
Ryan McMullen of Burns Flat
Jerry McPeak of Warner
Ray Miller of Quinton
Danny Morgan of Prague
Richard D. Morrissette of Oklahoma City
Bill Nations of Norman
Bob Plunk of Ada
Paul D. Roan of Tishomingo
Wade Rousselot of Wagoner
Mike Shelton of Oklahoma City
Ben Sherrer of Pryor Creek
Jerry Shoemake of Morris
Jabar Shumate of Tulsa
Glen Bud Smithson of Sallisaw
Barbara Staggs of Muskogee
Joe Sweeden of Pawhuska
Opio Toure of Oklahoma City
Dale Turner of Holdenville
Purcy D. Walker of Elk City

Democrats undecided (1)

R.C. Pruett of Antlers