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Pro Tem Expresses Disappointment on Tag Veto, Motorists Real Losers in License Plate Battle

Oklahoma motorists will pay the biggest price for Governor Keating's decision to veto legislation today which would have slashed car tag fees, delivering millions of dollars in savings. Official projections showed HB 1734 would have put an additional $53 million into the pockets of Oklahomans over the next nine years, giving Oklahoma the lowest tag and excise fees in the region.

"I'm disappointed because I really felt we'd crafted a good bill that would save Oklahoma motorists a lot of money on their car tags. I don't think the veto was in the best interest of the people, but obviously the Governor believes differently and he'll have to live with that decision," said Senator Stratton Taylor, President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate.

Under HB 1734, Oklahoma would trash its current tag system, switching to a flat annual fee. Instead of costing hundreds of dollars, tags would be $85 or less, depending on the age of the vehicle.

"We were trying to switch to a simplified system that would take less of a bite out of Oklahomans' pocketbooks. Because of the veto, it's not going to happen and that's a shame for Oklahoma motorists. They're the big losers in this," said Senator Taylor.

In his veto message, the Governor claimed the bill would cause a tax increase, but his statistics reflected only the first year of implementation. In reality, the switch from percentage-based tags to flat-rate tags would have a multiplying effect, with the tax cut growing each year. Statistics from the Oklahoma Tax Commission indicate HB 1734 will amount to a $53 million tax cut over the next nine years.

"If Governor Keating had taken a really thorough look at this bill, I think he would have realized it was a major tax cut for all motorists. There's no question that this was a tax cut," said Senator Taylor.

The Senate leader noted that HB 1734 received bipartisan support in the upper chamber, with 13 of 15 Republicans voting for the bill.

"Republicans and Democrats in the Senate supported this bill because it was a good deal for Oklahomans. I had hoped that spirit of bipartisanship would extend to the Governor's office."

HB 1734 Fact Sheet

The legislation would slash the cost of car tags, switching to a flat annual fee instead of the current method of calculating a percentage of a vehicle's value.

Under HB 1734, the flat tag fees would be based on the age of a vehicle. For example, for vehicles five years old or less, annual tags would cost $85. For vehicles between six and ten years of age, a tag would cost $45. Any vehicle older than ten years would qualify for a $15 tag.

Here are some examples:

Current tag HB 1734 tag

New car (year 1)

$321 $85

Sale price: $25,000 (year 6)

$196 $45

New RV (year 1)

$1,015 $85

Sale price: $80,000 (year 6)

$789 $45

Used car, Four years old (year 1 for new owner)

$154 $85

Sale price: $9,000 (year 2)

$140 $45

HB 1734 also reforms the new vehicle excise tax, making it more equitable. It applies a 4.5 percent levy against the actual sales price of a vehicle minus any trade-in values. Currently, no trade-in value is credited and excise taxes are applied against the sticker price of a vehicle which can be several thousand dollars more than the actual sales price.

The adjustments in HB 1734 will save Oklahoma motorists $53 million over the next nine years, giving Oklahoma the lowest excise and tag fees in the region; lower than Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.

Contact info
Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5605