OKLAHOMA GOV. WANTS LAWMAKERS TO START PATH TO ZERO INCOME TAX; SESSION ENDS WITH NO VOTE

News 9 - October 4, 2023 6:27 am

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The governor called for a special session on Oct. 3rd, with three items he’s asking legislators to discuss: budget transparency, a tax cut to put the state on the path to zero income taxes, and a trigger law mandating that if the court finds that any Oklahoman doesn’t have to pay state taxes, then nobody has to pay state taxes.

The special session ended without the Senate taking any votes on those tax cuts. Pro Tem Greg Treat said Gov. Stitt did not show up to the Senate Appropriations Committee, so Senate voted to adjourn sine die.

“We know going in tomorrow that there’s not an agreement,” said House Speaker Charles McCall. “We’re really seeking to find an agreement with the Senate. The House can advance bills to the Senate, if they’re not willing to take them up, then they’re not going to get to the governor’s desk.”

Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) previews the Special Session and the governor’s call for increased tax cuts.

Oklahoma Senate Response To Governor’s Tax Reform Plan

“We’re trying to look at what is a long-term plan to get tax reform in Oklahoma,” said Pro Tem Greg Treat.

There’s already a feud between the Governor and the Republican Leader of the State Senate. Treat says he hasn’t had any conversations with the Governor on how he hopes to accomplish those goals, saying a special session is unnecessary.

Treat explains the Senate is not opposed to tax cuts, and points to the almost $750 million in tax breaks that have passed over the last five years. Treat says the Senate is being cautious not to rush into making a decision he says could cost the state $4 billion.

“There’s just a pattern of impatience and not being willing to put in the work to get to the result that has been frustrating this year,” said Treat.

House Speaker Charles McCall says the House is ready to pass legislation on tax cuts this week.

“This week we have to introduce legislation. The House is very much for tax cuts. We’re going to try and get the Senate there,” said McCall.

The House has been an advocate of lowering the state income tax, one of the governor’s special session calls.

“It is hard to get to zero percent. It’s impossible to do it overnight,” said Treat.

Treat has invited the governor to come to the Senate appropriations meeting to explain the specifics of his special session call. Treat continues to call Stitt’s guidelines “intensely vague.”

“I want him to come explain to the caucus and the chamber about what his plan is,” said Treat. “I think it’s hard to go into a special session without knowing what the governor’s plan is. We didn’t call the special session, I don’t think we need a special session.”

Governor Stitt joined News 9 at 9 a.m. to talk more about the special session.

“I would love to talk to their (the Senate’s) caucus. I’ve talked to the caucus in the House. Again, every single Tuesday for breakfast, I have the Pro Tem and the speaker in the governor’s office,” Stitt said.

Treat and McCall both say the three of them have not met since May.

The governor’s office later clarified that the Tuesday breakfast meetings stopped at the end of the session but says the governor and speaker have continued conversations and meetings.

Treat says he has had no communication with the governor, adding the governor has not responded to his invitation tomorrow.

News 9 asked the Pro Tem what will happen if the governor does not show:

“We’ll have to have a conversation with our caucus. Again, we did not call, nor do we want a special session,” Treat said. “Hopefully he (the governor) believes in his plan enough that he’ll come and present.”

 

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