Ownbey’s bill would require initiative petitioners to identify funding source

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published 18-Jan-2011

State Question 744 could not have reached the ballot if legislation filed Tuesday (January 18) by state Rep. Pat Ownbey had been in place.

House Bill 1225 would require initiative petitions that mandate new spending to identify a funding source. Those submitting the petition would have to include a statement “outlining all sources of funding to be used in the measure.”

“Though we were able to get the word out about the consequences of State Question 744 and it ultimately failed, I think state questions that could bankrupt the state need stricter language,” Ownbey, an Ardmore Republican, said.

“State Question 744 mandated spending but failed to say where that money would come from. Voters need to know what programs they will have to sacrifice to make room for the additional spending. Oklahoma lawmakers cannot raise taxes without a vote of the people, so either a tax increase needs to be included in the petition or it needs to specify what spending cuts will occur to provide funding.”

Ownbey said state questions like SQ744 are an attempt to trick voters.

“Everyone supports education,” Ownbey said. “At face value, that was all the state question was asking. In reality though, it was setting up the potential to bankrupt other state services. I think it was written in a way that was highly inappropriate. That is why I am pushing for this legislation.”

Voters crushed S.Q. 744, which was backed by the National Education Association and its state affiliate, the Oklahoma Education Association, awarding the proposal barely 18.5% support.