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Some major issues approved by Okla. Legislature

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 23, 2014 at 7:29 pm •  Published: May 23, 2014
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Legislature adjourned the 2014 session Friday, one week before a constitutionally mandated deadline. Here are several of the major pieces of legislation lawmakers approved this year. Five of the measures still require Gov. Mary Fallin's signature.

— State budget: This omnibus state budget bill appropriates $7.1 billion to fund the state government for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The bill spends about $102 million less than the current budget but still boosts funding for public schools by $80 million. Most agencies will receive cuts averaging 5.5 percent. The bill also includes funding for pay raises for targeted state workers in the public safety, child welfare and health care fields. Senate Bill 2127. Awaiting governor's signature.

— Drilling tax incentive: Supported by the oil and gas industry, the bill increases the 1 percent tax rate for horizontally drilled gas wells to 2 percent for the first three years of a well's production, while dropping the rate for traditional vertical wells from 7 percent to 2 percent. Had legislators taken no action, the subsidy would have expired in July 2015 and the rate for all oil and gas production would have returned to 7 percent. House Bill 2562. Awaiting governor's signature.

— Reading standards: Modifies the state's Reading Sufficiency Act to allow a team that includes parents, teachers and administrators to decide whether a student should advance to the fourth grade, even if the student scores "unsatisfactory" on a state reading test. Fallin vetoed the measure, saying it sets students up for failure by advancing them without proper reading skills, but the Legislature voted to override her veto. House Bill 2625.

— Income taxes: Gradually lowers Oklahoma's top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 4.85 percent over several years if state revenues continue to rise. If fully implemented by 2018, income tax revenue to the state will be reduced by about $200 million a year. At the 4.85 percent rate, the cut for the average Oklahoma tax filer will be $158 a year. Senate Bill 1246. Signed by the governor.

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