Claremore Daily Progress

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May 1, 2013

House gives final approval to income tax cut

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Several Republicans argued that allowing Oklahoma taxpayers to keep more of their earnings would help spur economic activity.

“Whose money really is it? Is it our constituent’s money or is it the state’s money?” asked Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, who introduced the bill on the floor for House Speaker T.W. Shannon. “It’s a philosophical debate.”

But a handful of Republicans voted against the bill. Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma, said that while he supported the concept of reducing taxes, he agreed with Inman that it was risky to approve a tax cut so far in advance when it’s uncertain how much the state will collect over the next two years.

“My problem is not with the tax cut we have before us today. My concern is with what we don’t know,” said Hickman, who argued in favor of putting a revenue trigger in place before the initial cut went into effect in case of a revenue downturn. “The Senate amendments are a gamble, and I’m not willing to bet the farm.”

The tax cut on its way to the governor’s desk was the result of an agreement between the House, Senate and the governor’s office. Fallin and Shannon initially pushed for the reduction to 5 percent, effective in 2014, but the bill was changed in the Senate to delay the cut until 2015. In exchange for the delay, Shannon and Fallin lobbied for a deeper cut, and the final version included the reduction to 4.85 percent.

The bill also includes a provision that diverts $120 million in income tax revenue over the next two years to a fund set up to pay for improvements and repairs to the Capitol. The governor and legislative leaders have all supported the idea of funding repairs to the building, but the increasingly conservative House has rejected the notion of issuing bonds to pay for the improvements.

 

Some members argued that including that separate provision in the bill could lead to a legal challenge that the measure violates a provision of the state constitution that requires bills to address only one subject.

 

“This bill has two topics in it. It is going to go to the Supreme Court, and it is going to get thrown out,” said Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs.

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