Oklahoma governor to address Legislature as new session begins

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is scheduled to talk to lawmakers shortly after 12:30 p.m. Monday. Legislators will gather at noon at the state Capitol to convene the first session of the 54th Legislature, which will run through late May.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: February 4, 2013
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Gov. Mary Fallin will issue a repeated call Monday for lawmakers to reduce the state's personal income tax rate.

A source close to the governor said she will propose knocking a quarter percent off the state's highest personal income tax rate, dropping it from 5.25 percent to 5 percent. Her proposal last year would have cut the top personal income tax rate by nearly half.

Fallin, who is preparing to give her third State of the State address, declined to release specifics of her plan, but said her proposed reduction will be less than 1 percent.

“I do believe that we improve, that we grow our economy, create stronger revenue growth and more jobs in our state as we continue to gradually lower our income tax,” Fallin said. “I have a plan to lower the income tax this year and hope that as our economy continues to grow that we'll be able to continue to gradually reduce it.”

Fallin is scheduled to talk to lawmakers shortly after 12:30 p.m. Monday. Legislators will gather at noon at the state Capitol to convene the first session of the 54th Legislature.

The House of Representatives and the Senate will take care of procedural matters. Senators then will walk across the rotunda to the House chamber for a joint session.

The governor said her speech will last longer than last year's 49-minute address.

Personal income taxes bring in about one-third of the state's legislatively appropriated budget. For this fiscal year, personal income taxes are estimated to bring in $2.1 billion of the $6.8 billion budget.

Lawmakers last year discussed several proposals, some of them complicated and most dependent on eliminating business tax credits or certain exemptions and deductions. None passed.

Fallin's latest personal income tax cut plan will call for it to be paid out of available revenue. It is not dependent on reducing or eliminating any tax credits or exemptions or deductions.

It's projected lawmakers will have about $170 million more to appropriate this year compared with last year. Fallin and many Republican legislators attribute some of that growth in revenue to a quarter-percent reduction in the state's personal income tax two years ago.

A one-quarter percent cut in the personal income tax for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins July 1, is estimated to cost the state about $40 million. Its cost for an entire fiscal year is estimated about $120 million.



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