Lawton_A bill now in the Oklahoma Legislature could cost some cities' tax funds which would benefit other municipalities. Representative Steve Martin of Bartlesville has introduced a house bill dubbed the "One Percent Solution." According to some, it could almost be dubbed "The Robin Hood Solution" - take from the rich to give to the poor.
The bill proposes that the state take a portion of each city's sales tax collections, and re-distribute the money to cities and towns.
Lawton's sales tax is .25% lower than the state's average, which is why the Oklahoma Municipal League says Lawton could get the money; but the funding could be at the expense of a much smaller town such as Medicine Park, which has a sales tax higher than the state's average. The bill could potentially pit city against city.
Lawton Ward 8 City Councilman Randy Warren says it's a tricky piece of legislation to interpret. "I have no idea - it's very difficult to make an informed decision about whether this is a good thing or a bad thing," he says. He says the bill Martin is proposing would take 1% of each city's sales tax collections, and dole it out to cities and towns in Oklahoma based on their size.
According to a report by the Oklahoma Municipal League, Lawton stands to gain $2.1 Million, but $5,000 of that total will come from Medicine Park - a town of just over 350 people. Rep. Martin says the bill is intended to help smaller cities because their businesses are closing, and people are shopping in larger cities. That's not the case for Lawton. "It's state government attempting to correct what they perceive as a wrong, and making the situation worse in the process," says Warren.
Warren says Oklahoma City and Tulsa aren't happy with the proposal. They say they'll lose nearly $30 Million if the bill passes into law. "It's amazing to me that it's gotten as far as it has, and no one's told anybody," says Warren. City officials say the bill is too vague and will do more harm than good. "I think somebody needs to let the cities know, and the municipalities know exactly where they stand," Warren says.
If it goes any further, the bill will eventually call for a statewide vote. If you would like to know more about the bill, and how it might affect your hometown, contact your local representative.
The bill passed from the House Rules committee on a 5-4 vote, but House Majority Floor Leader Greg Piatt has not committed to allowing the measure to be voted on in the House. Piatt voted against the bill in Committee.