Legislative Sessions is OverRINO Index Time
They certainly gave us enough to work with this session. Even after Trump wiped the Republican RINOs off the map the state House and Senate leadership either wasn't paying attention or was willing to take a hit for those that hired them and the same old special interests that rule the Capitol got most of what they wanted while engaging in a bit of Kabuki theater to fool the masses that something was being cut.
The special interests played their parts and we were bombarded with radio and TV ads that one would think was special interests fighting over the remaining scraps of tax credits, with Barry Switzer getting some work out of the deal.
Leslie Osborn played her bad girl part, taking the heat for McCall while pushing back enough so that McCall could mockingly call her down, hoping the freshmen legislators would fall for the act. But the freshmen didn't fall for the bait and in the end both House and Senate leadership simply chose to lie and cheat, calling a tax a "fee" and passing what is sure to be proven an unconstitutional revenue bill.
They did kick the can down the road. They left a 500 million dollar hole in the budget for fiscal year 2018. The State Constitution states that no revenue bill be passed in the last five days of session and that any bill that raises taxes goes before a vote of the people or gets a three quarters vote in the legislature. Yet a simple 51% majority was used to pass these bills. The cigarette "fee" bill and the car "fee" bill are both revenue raising bills plain and simple. The car bill subjects car purchases, both new and used, to 1.25% sales tax but by claiming they simply removed an exemption House and Senate leadership called it a fee, not a tax.
The difference of course is simple and beyond debate.
A fee is when the payer receives a service from the government, like camping in a state park, driving on a toll road, a wide load permit, or a concealed carry permit, and the fee is used to defray the costs of the extra work or cost to provide the service or permit. These "fees" are usually kept by the agency providing the service.
A tax on the other hand is money that isn't tied directly to the activity and that money can be spent elsewhere in the public.
They will claim that the $1.50 per pack cigarette tax is a fee to pay for stop smoking programs or for medical costs of smokers but both of those budget items are covered by the Tobacco Trust settlement or state medical programs.
The end the result is to put the state Supreme Court in the uncomfortable position of shutting down parts of government and forcing the legislators back in a special session to deal with the illegal legislation.
And it is ratcheting, each year another billion or half billion in new taxes or fees is piled upon Oklahomans. Each year the special interests protect their tax credits or have new ones passed as the old tax credits are retired with much fan fare.
The work on the 2018 RINO Index has already begun and in a few weeks it will be complete and emailed to all of those that ran for office in 2016, posted online, and posted on Facebook pages for every single House and Senate district.
The 2018 Primary Election begins now for those that have been unfaithful to the Republican Platform.