The Oklahoma state House and Senate unveiled competing state income tax cut measures Wednesday.
Each would require an improvement in the state’s revenue picture before the tax cut would be triggered, and tax year 2016 is the earliest either proposed tax cut could take place.
“We made a commitment to the people of Oklahoma and we intend to keep that commitment,” said state Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, author of the Senate tax cut bill.
Bingman’s bill would cut Oklahoma’s top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent as soon as certified projections for the state’s general revenue fund get back up to where they were when the Legislature approved a tax cut last year that was later struck down by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
General revenue fund projections have declined since then, so they would have to go back up about $86.5 million before the income tax cut would be triggered.
Bingman has a provision in his bill that would further cut the top income tax rate to 4.85 percent just as soon as the state’s revenue growth is enough to offset the amount that would otherwise be lost because of the tax cut. An identical provision was in the bill struck down by the state Supreme Court.
The bill is scheduled to be considered Thursday by the full Senate.
“This is a fiscally responsible approach that will bring tax relief to Oklahomans and encourage economic growth in our state,” Bingman said.
Meanwhile, the House Appropriations and Budget Committee on Wednesday narrowly approved a competing bill by state Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, that would cut the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent once growth in state income tax collections is determined to be sufficient to offset the financial impact of the tax cut.
“We don’t get that unless we have enough growth in the income tax stream to cover that,” Sears said.
Sears’ House Bill 2508 doesn’t contain a provision for a second tax cut like the one in the Senate bill.
The bill squeaked by the House committee by a vote of 11-10 and will now move to the full House.
Gov. Mary Fallin supports a tax cut but is not supporting a particular bill at this point, said spokesman Alex Weintz.
“Gov. Fallin believes tax cuts are an important way to stimulate the economy and help middle class families,” Weintz said. “She is open to any and all plans to responsibly reduce the income tax rate. She is pleased the Legislature is examining several different proposals and continues to push for passage of a tax cut bill this year.”