Governor Brad Henry says he'll seriously consider targeted tax increases

Tuesday, December 2nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Brad Henry said he would seriously consider tax proposals in which revenues would be dedicated to specific problems or needs.

``I'm opposed to any kind of general, across-the-board tax increases, whether it be the sales tax or income tax,'' Henry said Monday. ``But I would consider and look at and discuss with the legislative leadership targeted kinds of taxes like the cigarette tax or the fuel tax.''

Henry said he isn't formally endorsing any kind of tax increase.

During the past session, the governor opposed tax-increase proposals he said were aimed at raising general revenues.

State health officials and some lawmakers supported a $1 per-pack hike in Oklahoma's 23-cent cigarette tax last year to fund anti-smoking and health-related programs, but the move failed.

Some are now mulling a tax increase proposal that is along the lines of the national average tax of 50 cents per pack.

One official would like to see revenues from a tobacco tax increase be used to keep the University of Oklahoma Medical Center's trauma unit from closing in January.

Sen. Robert Milacek, R-Enid, has said he'll introduce a measure to boost the gasoline and diesel taxes to 22 cents per gallon over the next several years.

The increase would be in effect until 2030, when rates would fall back to their current levels of 16 cents on gasoline and 13 cents on diesel fuel.

The state also levies a 1-cent special assessment fee per gallon on both fuels to fund underground storage tank cleanup.

The higher taxes would generate $145 million a year in revenue, Milacek said.

The proposed measure will focus funding on roads and bridges.