Fallin, legislative leaders back tax cut, Edmondson opposes trigger
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Published: 21-Dec-2010

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 21-Dec-2010

Governor-elect Mary Fallin, House Speaker-elect Kris Steele, and Senate President Pro Tempore-elect Brian Bingman today (Tuesday, December 21) announced their continued support for cutting Oklahoma’s income tax.

At the Board of Equalization meeting, meanwhile, outgoing Attorney General Drew Edmondson opposed a motion by outgoing Treasurer Scott Meacham to give preliminary approval to implementation of the anticipated reduction in the top state income tax levy, from 5.5% currently to 5.25 percent in 2012.

“Letting Oklahoma families and small businesses keep more of their hard-earned money is the right thing to do and a good way to get our economy moving in the right direction,” Fallin said. “Cutting the income tax rate will make Oklahoma more competitive on a national stage and is a step in the right direction as we work to make our state a better place to do business.”

“Broad-based tax relief is the most efficient and fair way to spur economic growth because it helps all Oklahomans,” said Steele, a Shawnee Republican. “Cutting our income tax rate will make Oklahoma a more attractive place to do business and a positive, national role model on economic policy.”

“The tax cuts are designed to stimulate economic growth and create private sector jobs, both of which are a priority,” stated Bingman, a Sapulpa Republican.  “It is important that we remain committed to tax relief and allow the additional dollars in the private sector to create wealth in Oklahoma.”

The governor and legislative leaders made their announcement after the State Board of Equalization reported that tax collections indicate the certification for next year’s appropriations will be at least 4-percent greater than the current fiscal year, triggering an automatic reduction in the income tax rate under existing law.

Once the 4-percent growth rate is formally certified at the Board of Equalization’s February meeting, the rate reduction will be scheduled to take effect January 1, 2012.

At that time, the state income tax rate will be cut from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent with an estimated fiscal impact of just $61 million in 2012. Once fully implemented, the tax cuts will collectively save Oklahoma families $150 million a year.

The Board of Equalization meeting was entirely routine, save for two facts: it was the last such meeting for each of the current board members, and Edmondson questioned the wisdom of letting the trigger go into effect. The attorney general then opposed Treasurer Meacham’s motion to approve the preliminary finding that state tax revenue has grown enough to allow “the trigger” to go into effect.

Governor Brad Henry had pointed out the Board was required to certify, or not, that sufficient revenue growth exists to give the preliminary approval. After Meacham’s motion, Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins did not debate the issue but voted in favor of the motion. It carried 6-1, with Edmondson opposed and support from Henry, Askins, Meacham, Schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett, Auditor & Inspector Steve Burrage and Agriculture Secretary Terry L. Peach.

Note: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.

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