A special legislative session called by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt will begin on Monday. Stitt hopes lawmakers will pass a quarter-cent income tax cut, though that appears unlikely.
Leadership in the Oklahoma House of Representatives has indicated they’ll pass the cut, calling it another step toward leading Oklahoma to zero income tax, but the Senate’s leader says Stitt hasn’t shown a detailed plan, and they won’t vote in favor. Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat told The Frontier lawmakers could opt to take up the tax cut during the regular session, which starts Feb. 5.
Oklahoma’s current top income tax rate is 4.75%. Stitt’s proposed cut would drop the top rate to 4.5%. The Oklahoma Legislature last passed an across-the-board quarter-percent tax cut in 2021.
On this episode of Listen Frontier, we talk to House Speaker Charles McCall and Treat to get their takes on the upcoming special session.
Treat told The Frontier he wasn’t “cutting off the possibility” of taking up the cut during the regular session.
“We’re just cutting the possibility of wasting taxpayer dollars in the meantime,” he said, noting it costs $20,000 a day to keep the full Senate in session and “double that” for the House of Representatives.
“We’ll entertain tax policy, including tax cuts, during the regular session if we’re convinced of it,” Treat said. “But having a special session a week prior to the regular session is just a waste of resources, tax money, and it’s just political theater.”
Stitt has criticized Treat’s unwillingness to consider the tax cut during the special session.
“All I asked was for Senator Treat to put a quarter-point tax cut up for a vote. The Senate is refusing to do what 65% of Oklahomans support: cutting taxes. If anything is a waste of taxpayer money, it is the refusal of Senate leadership to give Oklahomans a well-deserved pay raise,” Stitt said in a post Thursday on the social media platform X.
The proposed quarter-cent tax cut would save the average Oklahoma family about $100 a year, Treat said. McCall said the cut would be another step toward taking the state to zero income taxes – a path Treat said the state is “already on.”
Treat said the Senate’s hesitance is that Stitt “hasn’t enunciated a plan,” and is basing the ability for the state to absorb a tax cut on revenue estimates that won’t be finalized until February. Those numbers will then be used by lawmakers to vote on the “real budget,” Treat said. A quarter-cent tax cut would cost the state about $250 million, Treat said.
Last year, between December and February, revenue estimates declined by $611 million, Treat told The Frontier.
“The Governor claims we know the numbers, the time is now,” Treat said. “But we don’t know the numbers and we’re not sure the time is now.”
McCall told The Frontier the House of Representatives will pass Stitt’s plan on Wednesday, the earliest day possible.
“We don’t have a problem voting on it, and I believe it passes (in the House),” he said. “The question is the Senate.”
Treat said he wants to make sure any change to the state’s tax rate “is sustainable.”
“I want to make sure that whatever we do tax policy wise … doesn’t jeopardize the future of Oklahoma,” he said.
This is Listen Frontier, a podcast exploring the investigative journalism of the Frontier and featuring conversations with those on the frontlines of Oklahoma’s most important stories. Listen to us Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.
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