State Reps. John Bennett, Mike Reynolds, Sean Roberts and Mike Ritze today said they hope Gov. Mary Fallin will veto a bill to allow cities to impose local taxes on military installations.
House Bill 3143 was approved yesterday by a vote of 51-42 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Bennett said he did not believe military men and women and veterans would be unaffected. Private vendors who are affected will pass those costs onto their customers, military men and servicewomen, he said.
“I voted against and debated against the passage of House Bill 3143,” said Bennett, R-Sallisaw. “This is a bill that I believe will hurt our men and women in uniform as well as their family members and veterans. It is a bold and disgusting move by the city of Lawton to raise taxes on Fort Sill. This bill is a ‘money grab’ by a municipality at the expense of services to the military members and their families.
“Military men and women do enjoy exemptions to sales taxes, but that does not protect them from indirect cost increases that result from private vendors being charged a sales tax on their purchases. If a business has new costs, those costs are passed onto customers, who in this case are military men and women, veterans and their families.”
Reynolds said he was skeptical of a claim by the bill’s author that taxes would be subject to Department of Defense approval.
“There is nothing in the language of the bill to indicate that the Department of Defense would have any say in the matter,” said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. “I pointed this out repeatedly, but received no explanation of what that assertion was based upon.”
Bennett said those who supported the bill were misled by claims that it would not affect active duty military families and veterans.
“Our men and women in uniform, their families and veterans have sacrificed so much and most earn minimum wage as a member of the military,” Bennett said. “No tax on base is a great help and incentive to them. Why would we go after the military and burden them by increasing their taxes?”