Budget talks progressing, Oklahoma governor says

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin still is pushing for a cut in the state's personal income tax rate. No budget deal is expected this week; lawmakers have less than three weeks to approve a budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: May 9, 2012

Steady progress is being made preparing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which will take into account a cut in the state's personal income tax rate, Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday.

“My goal is to get an income tax cut this year,” she said. “We're still working on the range.”

Fallin, who proposed cutting the top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 3.5 percent, said she still is seeking to get the largest decrease possible. The failure of lawmakers to eliminate or reduce economic tax credits as well as delete personal income tax deductions and exemptions make it unlikely for that steep of a cut to occur in one of the state's largest sources of revenue.

Fallin said she met again Tuesday with House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, about the budget and reducing the personal income tax rate.

Fallin said she doesn't anticipate a budget agreement this week.

“We're still running a lot of numbers, going through a lot of figures,” she said.

Steele has said he expects a budget agreement next week and doesn't expect lawmakers to l be able to adjourn earlier than the May 25 deadline.

Bingman, however, left open the possibility work could finish sooner.

“We'll leave when the work's done,” he said. “We'll be out of here hopefully by the end of the month. If we can get done a few days early, that'd be fantastic — but no promises at this point.”

Asked how far apart legislators and the governor are on an income tax deal, Bingman said, “We're not far.”

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