Senator Pugh Commits to Make Oklahoma the Top State in the Country for Veterans

Beverly Cantrell - January 25, 2022 2:45 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, is committed to continue working to make Oklahoma the top state in America for retired and active veterans as well as those separated from service. Among his efforts this session is Senate Bill 401, a carryover measure from last year, to exempt military retirement from state income taxes.    

“We have one of the highest active and retired military populations in the nation but are continually ranked as one of the least tax-friendly states for military retirees,” Pugh said. “If we want to truly honor America’s heroes and attract these highly-skilled workers to our state, we need to join the majority of other states that have already exempted military retirement benefits from state income tax.”    

In total, 33 states do not tax military retirement pay. These include nine states with no income tax like Texas, and 24 others that provide a full tax exemption for military retirement benefits, including bordering states Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri. Currently, Oklahoma’s more than 36,000 retired service members can deduct the greater of $10,000 or 75% of their retirement income from state income tax. The only other states in the region to tax military pensions are New Mexico and Colorado. In August, Kiplinger once again ranked Oklahoma as being the eighth worst tax-friendly state for military retirees in the nation behind California, Vermont, Washington, D.C., Utah, Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico, followed by Virginia and Delaware.

Pugh announced his continued efforts to get SB 401 to the governor’s desk and to make Oklahoma the number one state for America’s heroes at the grand opening of the Dale K. Graham Foundation’s newest location in Norman Tuesday. The foundation is named after retired U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Dale K. Graham, who dedicated nearly 30 years of his life to encouraging and helping veterans file their benefits claims. The foundation continues his legacy today and has helped more than 25,000 living veterans, in all 77 Oklahoma counties, along with 45 other states and four foreign countries.     

“Thank goodness for nonprofits like the Dale K. Graham Foundation, who work so hard to ensure veterans get the benefits they have rightfully earned and deserve,” Pugh said. “Our state government can do more to help them as well, and that’s why I’m so determined to get this tax exemption to the governor’s desk this session. If we want to truly be a pro-veteran and military-friendly state, we need to stop just saying it, and do it.”

Pugh, a strong advocate for workforce development and licensing reform, said veterans would help provide more highly qualified professionals in critical, much-needed industries.  

“We’ve done so much work in the Senate to help improve the lives of our veterans and their families. However, we’re missing an incredible opportunity to attract even more of these outstanding professionals to Oklahoma by not addressing this much-needed tax reform,” Pugh said. “These individuals have extensive high-level military work experience in engineering, aviation and other areas that could help close the workforce gap for so many industries in our state. Not only will attracting more military retirees to our state help the industries we already have in Oklahoma, it’ll also help attract more companies to our state, further boosting our state economy.”

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, military personnel typically retire in their early- to mid-forties.

Former Legislative Veterans Caucus Chair Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City, noted the Senate has made major reforms in recent years to help veterans through workforce development, expanded Career-Tech and higher education opportunities, increased funds in mental health services, and many other areas.

“The Senate has done so much to help our veterans in every way from helping them better transition into civilian life and the workforce, continue their education and get the healthcare services they need, but our work isn’t done,” Rosino said. ‘I appreciate Senator Pugh’s continued efforts to find ways to support Oklahoma’s veterans and their families as well as attract more of America’s patriots to our great state. I’m looking forward to seeing what other pro-military bills are introduced this session, and hope they garner bipartisan support.”

To learn more about the Dale K. Graham Foundation, visit https://dalekgrahamveteransfoundation.org. Their next intake event for veterans will be on Feb. 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., both online and at the new location at 1233 W. Lindsey Street in Norman.

For more information, contact:  Sen. Pugh: (405) 521-5622 or [email protected]

 

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