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KEATING, legislative leaders nix property tax idea

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Frank Keating and legislative leaders vowed Friday not to pursue a property tax increase to offset revenue lost from eliminating the state income tax and sales tax on groceries.

A report released this week outlined five tax reform plans, including four that raised property taxes. One plan would have tripled the tax residents pay on their homes.

Keating, Senate President Pro Tem Stratton Taylor and House Speaker Larry Adair praised academicians at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University for devising ways the state could shuck its income tax and sales tax on groceries without cutting vital state services.

``It was important for the authors of the report to provide a comprehensive analysis of all possible approaches to revamping our tax system,'' Keating said. ``However, I noted the report's conclusion that it is 'far better, in our view that alternative revenue comes from a gross receipts tax than from an increase in the property tax.' I agree and go on record as opposing any increase in property taxes as part of this tax reform initiative.''

Adair, D-Stilwell, said Oklahomans ``will never embrace raising property taxes'' to recoup revenue lost by eliminating other taxes.

Taylor, D-Stilwell, said the researchers had done the job well in providing several options ``but we're not interested in raising property taxes.

``Oklahomans, especially our senior citizens, have made it clear that they don't want to see a property tax hike and we're not going to go against their wishes.''

The three leaders said they have assigned their staffs to take a closer look at the study's recommendations and are soliciting input from others ahead of a Sept. 25 special session.

Keating said his goal is to develop a tax system that encourages commercial growth and capital investment.

``As I have stated time and again, the most important element of this new design should be repeal of Oklahoma's income tax,'' he said.

Taylor said the study ``will serve as a good road map to help us get to our ultimate destination _ the elimination of the income tax and sales tax on groceries. We have a lot of options to consider and discuss and that's what we plan to do in the weeks to come.''
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