Patrick B. McGuigan
State Sen. Jim Reynolds was effusive this morning (Wednesday, April 20) after passage of House Joint Resolution 1002. By a vote of 77-16, with five members excused and three taking constitutional privilege, the measure sailed through the House of Representatives. The final overwhelming bipartisan majority approved sending the constitutional measure to a statewide vote of the people.
If passed by voters, the proposal will limit property tax increases to 3 percent of fair cash value. The measure had cleared the state Senate several days ago with a comfortable, but closer, margin. It does not require the governor’s signature.
In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Sen. Reynolds, an Oklahoma City Republican, said, “Representative David Dank is just awesome.” After taking a break from Senate proceedings to watch Dank work for passage in the House, Reynolds said Dank had “worked the issue for years, never caring who got the credit for getting it done. I am proud to have been part of this historic effort with him.”
The state of Oklahoma presently has a 5% annual cap on property tax increases, but critics of the present system argue the practical effect of the “cap” has been to guarantee annual increases that match the maximum allowed. As Sen. Reynolds observed, “At the 5% cap, property taxes essentially double every 14 years. With this new 3% cap, it will take at least 24 years for taxes to double.”
In the end, H.J.R. 1002 had 64 Republicans and 13 Democrats in support. Democratic House Leader Scott Inman of Del City supported sending the issue to voters, as did Sen. Reynolds’ brother, state Rep. Mike Reynolds of Oklahoma City.
Dank advanced the issue for years, including in the face of determined opposition from Chris Benge, the former speaker of the state House. At the height of tension over the issue just 12 months ago, in April 2010, Sen. Reynolds said, pointedly, that “one man stands in the way of this going to the people.”
This year, with that one man no longer in power at the state Capitol, the proposal methodically worked its way to passage and onto an upcoming statewide ballot. Sending the measure to voters fulfills direct and repeated promises made and consistently advanced by the two sponsors throughout the course of their careers in elective office.