Greater Oklahoma City Chamber - Chamber takes position on Oklahoma state questions

Chamber takes position on Oklahoma state questions

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber's Board of Directors recently voted to adopt positions on four Oklahoma State Questions. 

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber is opposed to State Question 779, which would permanently increase the state sales tax rate by 1 percent to generate $615 million a year for a one-time teacher pay raise, higher education, grants, early childhood programs and career tech institutions. The Chamber believes our education system and teachers deserve a better solution to this problem – one that does not jeopardize the economic health of our cities. There are several problems with State Question 779:

  • This permanent tax increase would turn Oklahoma City into one of the most heavily taxed cities in the country – higher than places like New York City or San Francisco. Sales tax revenue funds critical city services and public projects, and there are better ways to address this issue without jeopardizing Oklahoma City’s future growth.
  • SQ 779 does nothing to address the shortage of 1,000 teachers in the state, growing classroom sizes or the loss of funding for school programs such as arts and music. The state’s education needs require our elected officials to enact a long-term plan that ensures our students obtain the type of education they need to succeed.
  • Retailers across our state will face increased competition from online sales due to this higher sales tax rate, which will hurt local businesses and only further depress local sales tax revenue required for public safety and municipal operations.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber is committed to leading a collaborative effort during next year’s legislative session to fund these needed increases for teacher salaries should SQ 779 be defeated.

Chamber supports State Questions 780 and 781
State Questions 780 and 781 both focus on an important topic to the Chamber – criminal justice reform. SQ 780 would reclassify some property crimes and drug possession charges as misdemeanors, while SQ 781 would use the money saved by SQ 780 to fund rehabilitation and other diversion programs. Both of these changes are in line with the reform efforts the Chamber is coordinating for the Oklahoma County criminal justice system and would lead to a more effective approach to criminal justice and public safety.

The effort is being led by former House Speaker Kris Steele and the Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform Group, of which the Chamber is a member. More than 110,000 Oklahoma voters signed petitions calling for a vote on these two state questions.

Chamber supports State Question 792
The Chamber supports State Question 792, which would allow wine and strong beer to be sold cold in grocery and convenience stories beginning in 2018. It would also permit liquor stores to sell limited amounts of products other than alcoholic beverages. Voting yes on SQ 792 would also result in the enactment of several statutory changes – including allowing wineries to ship directly to customers in Oklahoma, and allowing craft breweries to sell their product in more locations. Learn more at www.Yeson792.com.