CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
State Representative David Dank says wants he wants a third term representing District 85 in northwest Oklahoma City to “finish the job once and for all” on property tax reform.
Dank said, “The biggest unfinished task is to achieve real property tax reform, and as I vowed when I first ran for this office, I have continued to place my entire legislative salary in escrow to fund that effort. These reforms are not tax cuts, they are tax restraint, and they would not cost the state budget, schools or counties a dime.”
Dank said he is proud of the bill he authored to stop “pay for play” campaign contributions from lobbyists to legislators during annual legislative sessions: “Unfortunately, there is still clear corruption at our State Capitol. This year we once again saw examples of excessive influence by lobbyists and last-minute legislation being rushed through to give special breaks to narrow interests. There are honorable people in our Legislature, but too often some in leadership manipulate the system for reasons that are not in the public’s interest. That must stop.”
He said one example was the effort to eliminate wasteful tax credits to help balance the state budget.
“Good tax credits create jobs,” he said. “Bad ones are basically just giveaways. It was clear which was which, but by the time some of the leadership got through listening to the lobbyists instead of the taxpayers, very little got done.”
Dank said the property tax reform measures he sponsored remain his primary piece of unfinished business. Dank joined state Sen. Jim Reynolds of Oklahoma City in pressing for a property tax limitation ballot measure this year. However, Speaker of House Chris Benge said the proposal was not realistic in the midst of the state’s deep revenue crunch.
One measure would reduce the annual allowable property tax increase cap. The second would freeze property taxes for seniors for as long as they own their homes.
Dank said he would survey every candidate for the Legislature from every district this year to determine where they stand on property tax reform. If the Legislature fails to pass the reforms in 2011, Dank says he will launch an initiative petition effort to place them on the ballot.
Dank said he has a commitment from incoming legislative leadership to re-create a special House committee Dank originally chaired dealing with senior issues. District 85 has one of the largest percentages of seniors of any House district in Oklahoma.
He said he would also continue to fight for reforms in education that would direct more money to the classroom. He noted that there can no longer be any justification for Oklahoma having some 530 school districts, with accompanying waste in administrative
Rep. Dank’s Republican primary opponent, Aaron Kaspereit, characterizes himself as a “Conservative Republican, devoted Christian, impassioned educator” and a “fresh voice.” On a campaign website, he expresses support for increased teacher pay and opposition to forced health care coverage.
Gail Vines, the only Democrat to file against Dank, is a member of the non-partisan city public schools board of education. She angered some activists for homosexual rights with past votes on sexual orientation issues, but supported an “inclusive” anti-bullying policy in January.
Also running against Dank is independent candidate Edward Shadid, an independent who has said he wants support from the “Green Party”.
In a release first posted on Facebook, the social networking mechanism, Shadid said he ran as an independent because the Green Party does not have ballot status.
Shadid’s release asserted he is “impassioned when thinking and discussing the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Concerns about the health of Oklahomans, especially the epidemics of obesity and nicotine dependence, have pervaded his medical practice since inception.”
Dr. Shadid is a critic of Oklahoma’s budget access laws. Although aware that no Independent has been elected to the Legislature in five decades, Dr. Shadid’s release said “He intends to be the first.”