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Delay of Oklahoma income tax cuts could mean bigger cuts later

Talks are underway between Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders about postponing when the reduction of the state's personal income tax rate would take effect. The governor says she wants an income tax-cut bill approved this year after efforts to cut the rate fizzled last year.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: April 11, 2013 at 10:04 pm •  Published: April 12, 2013
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A source close to the negotiations confirmed Bingman has been reluctant to agree to an eventual tax cut of lower than 4.85 percent by 2016.

“We want to be responsible with what we do,” Bingman said. “We still want to have a very thoughtful discussion on tax credits and tax reform. That's … part of the element that's important in the state Senate with the tax cut. We want to address how we're going to take care of this building (the state Capitol).”

Bingman said he agrees with state Treasurer Ken Miller that lawmakers could cut the income tax this year but not have it take effect until 2015, thereby freeing up money for needs in the 2014 fiscal year, which starts July 1. Key among those is financing repairs to the state Capitol, which this week was named as one of the state's most endangered historic places mainly because part of its exterior is flaking off, the electrical wiring is outdated and the plumbing system is failing.

Fallin has proposed the Legislature appropriate $10 million immediately for the Capitol. She is seeking $8 million to repair the exterior of the Capitol and another $2 million to develop a plan to repair and renovate the rest of the building. She has made a supplemental funding request so that the money is available before July 1.

Bingman and Shannon said they support the $8 million for exterior repairs, but Shannon was skeptical Thursday about the study.

“I'm not sure what all we need to study for $2 million,” he said. “I certainly want as much of that to go toward fixing brick and mortar as possible.”

Bingman said a study is needed.

“We all have heard estimates of what it would cost to fix the state Capitol,” he said. “This would be a very intensive study and come back with a plan of this is what it's going to cost and kind of a time frame. … We (lawmakers) do have to show up here four months out of the year and they'd have to work around that. It's kind of a complex process to go through, but I think that's necessary before we just start off and do a complete overhaul of the state Capitol.”