OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a quarter of a percentage state income tax cut Wednesday morning, but the Senate is still waiting on key budgetary details before moving forward.
Governor Kevin Stitt called lawmakers back to the Capitol earlier this month and requested tax relief for Oklahomans be considered. Gov. Stitt is requesting the state income tax be slashed from 4.75% to 4.50%.
According to Representative Andy Fugate, D-OKC, the tax cut would save the average Oklahoman 9.3 cents per day.
This is the second time in five months that the Governor has called for a special session on tax cuts.
The Governor has pointed to the state’s recurring expenditure base, saying it sits at $9.6B. He also looked to the state’s savings account at $5.4B and the surplus at $1.2B.
“We don’t believe the governor’s numbers are accurate. He counts in some moneys that we would not count in there, but he at least owes it to us to come and explain how he arrived at those numbers,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-OKC.
The Governor made the same request in September 2023, but the Senate adjourned sine die because of a lack of budget numbers for this fiscal year.
Each time a chamber meets during the special session, it costs taxpayers about $17,500 per legislative body.
“We’re going to discuss an income tax cut that we don’t even have the latest data for. This is a waste of dollars. We should not dole out more handouts to the rich,” said Representative Mickey Dollens, D-OKC.
Representative Jon Echols, R-Edmond, argued entering into a special session as an elected legislator isn’t a waste of time or money.
“The argument is offensive and it needs to stop,” he stated.
Rep. Echols said the tax cut should have happened at least two years ago when the House began proposing the idea.
“These ideas don’t make fiscal sense,” said Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa.
Speaker of the House Charles McCall, R-Atoka, stated, “There are people struggling to afford the basic necessities. The least amount of relief that we can give, they can use it. This body needs to respond once again and pass this bill.”
After several lawmakers from both sides of the political spectrum voiced their opinion, the House put up HB1002XXX for a vote.
The bill passed with 71 votes for and 20 against.
The tax cut will now go to the Senate to be heard and voted on, but Pro Tem Treat doesn’t anticipate his caucus reconvening this week.
“We do not have an agreement,” stated Pro Tem Treat. “You’ve got to be able to look at the numbers realistically and not just put numbers in there that we can’t touch for ongoing expenses.”
The bill will be heard on the Senate floor once the regular session begins on February 5.