18 December 2003
Tweaking the tax freeze
In 1996, the state Constitution was amended to block property-tax increases for persons 65 and over with incomes of $25,000 or less. (Technically, the law blocks increasing the assessed valuation of the property, on which the tax is based; it does not actually freeze the tax rate, which is generally set by voter election.)
There is now a proposal in the works, backed by members of the County Government Legislative Council, to amend this amendment by allowing the income threshold to float upward to the median income in each county, which even in the state's poorest county (Pushmataha) is today over $30,000. In my neck of the woods, the cutoff would be $51,100.
Roy Bishop, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, announced that the group would oppose any move that might conceivably take any money out of school coffers. In 2002, nearly $3 of every $5 collected by Oklahoma County went to public schools.