State questions: 714 and 715

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I've been meaning for a while to write about the numerous state questions on the ballot in Oklahoma this November. The state election board has the complete text (PDF) that will appear on the ballot.

(You can see a brief analysis of all the state questions by the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs here on their website.)

Let's warm up with a couple of the simple ones, having to do with property tax.

STATE QUESTION NO. 714

This question would amend Section 8C of Article 10 of the Oklahoma Constitution. The actual amendment to the Constitution that would result from passing this question is in Senate Joint Resolution 30, and you can read it here. The ballot language is a bit misleading -- it refers to "mean income", while the Constitution as amended would refer to median income.

Right now, a senior citizen who has less than $25,000 in annual household income qualifies for a valuation freeze on her primary residence. This means that her property tax won't go up just because the value of other homes in the neighborhood has gone up. (The senior's property tax would still go up if the people vote to raise the tax rate, by passing a bond issue, for example.) Before this provision was added, seniors were hit hard by rising home values, having to shell out more in taxes based on a financial gain that would only be realized if they sold their homes. If the state question passes, the qualifying income would be fixed to the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development's estimate of median family income. HUD's estimate for the Tulsa metropolitan area is $54,500.

Ken Yazel, Tulsa County Assessor, spoke about this question and the next one at
a luncheon earlier this month. He would rather not be in the business of knowing a family's income -- just stick to assessing property -- and would prefer, instead of any rule involving income, to defer valuation increases for the homesteads of all seniors. When the property is sold or transferred to an heir, the property would then be assessed at its market value. But in the absence of that kind of system, it makes sense to raise the income limit to a more reasonable level. This proposition could help Oklahoma keep our senior citizens here and attract others to retire here. I'm voting YES on SQ 714.

STATE QUESTION NO. 715

This question would add new language to the Constitution granting a property tax exemption on the homesteads of disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. Ken Yazel says there are only about 3,000 people statewide who would qualify. To qualify the veteran would have to be certified by the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs as having a 100% permanent disability sustained through military action or accident or disease contracted while in active service. (Rice shrapnel embedded in one's posterior would not be sufficient to qualify.) This seems like a small way to repay those who have sacrificed their health for our nation. I'm voting YES on SQ 715.

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» Roundup of State Questions from Acorns from an Okie

For a roundup of state questions on the upcoming Oklahoma Ballot, I point you towards OCPA's Synopsis of the State Ballot Questions. A supposedly non-partisan view of the questions. I'm fairly convinced that the phrase "non-partisan" doesn't have meani... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 23, 2004 3:18 PM.

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