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Smaller cut in Oklahoma's personal income tax is likely for next year, key budget negotiator says

The chairman of the Oklahoma House budget committee says a 3 percent cut in the personal income tax rate is too steep, but he says legislators will be given a ‘significant proposal' to consider.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: April 11, 2012

Oklahoma's top personal income tax rate will be cut next year, but not as deep as some bills have proposed, a key budget negotiator said Tuesday.

“In my opinion, it will not be as deep as was discussed at the beginning of session,” said Rep. Earl Sears, chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriations and Budget Committee. “But we will have a significant proposal regarding the income tax rate for our members to vote on this year.”

Sears, R-Bartlesville, said he and a group of House Republicans have reviewed five bills that propose to reduce the top personal income tax rate of 5.25 percent; the proposed cuts range from a quarter percent to 3 percent. Sears is beginning to meet with senators and plans to meet later with representatives of the governor, who has proposed reducing the top rate from 5.25 percent to 3.5 percent next year.

Almost half of the House's 67 Republicans have signed onto a measure, House Bill 3038, that would reduce the top rate to 2.25 percent next year. Its author, Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, said Tuesday she expects a smaller personal income tax cut next year than the 3 percent in her measure.

Sears was asked his reaction after House Democrats for the third week in a row attacked House Republicans for wanting to slash the income tax rate next year and gradually eliminate it. They said cutting the personal income tax too quickly could harm funding for essential state services, many of which have been cut each of the past three years.

“This idea to eliminate the income tax has no public support,” said Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City. “The Republicans on the other side of the aisle talk about protecting seniors, protecting the most vulnerable. They talk the talk, but let's see if they walk the walk.”

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