Considerations on the Capitol by Senator Bill Coleman
Ten weeks and another major deadline is behind us. On Thursday, we wrapped up work on House bills in our Senate committees, and our colleagues across the rotunda did the same. In total, more than 550 House and Senate bills have advanced through the legislative process. We now have two weeks to consider the approximately 270 House bills in our chamber. In all, nine of my Senate bills and nine House bills that I am carrying have advanced and will soon be heard in their respective chambers. We have until April 28 to make a final decision on these measures.
Work on the budget is accelerating and an agreement should be announced soon. Our state is at an all-time financial high as revenues have consistently exceeded monthly estimates. In March, general revenue exceeded the monthly estimate by nearly 40%, bringing us to a grand total of just over $1 billion more in state revenue so far for this exercise that we estimated last year. If this trend continues, we will be able to make a substantial deposit into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which will ensure that our state is protected against future economic downturns and has enough money to respond to natural disasters such as as tornadoes, floods and wildfires.
Given the financial strength of our state, it makes sense for the legislature to return some of their hard-earned money to Oklahomans. It will also help provide relief to working families and the elderly, as inflation has reached historic levels. Here are some bills you’ll want to keep an eye on.
There are two bills, SB 1495 and HB 3349, still alive in the legislative process to reduce the state’s 4.5% food tax share. This will not affect the portion of sales tax collected by municipalities or counties used to fund local operations and services. The Senate version would be permanent as of Nov. 1, 2022, while the House measure would only be effective until July 30, 2024. Oklahoma is one of 13 states to levy a state tax on food products with Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas.
HB 3350 would reduce Oklahoma personal income tax by 0.25%, reducing the top marginal rate to 4.5% from 4.75%, beginning with the 2023 tax year.
SB 1486 provides that if the sale of a motor vehicle includes a trade-in, gross receipts should be calculated based on the difference between the value of the trade-in vehicle and the actual sale price of the purchased vehicle. This will help provide tax relief by only taxing the full cost of the purchase.
SB 1481 would end the heavy franchise tax after this year to also provide businesses with tax relief.
We are also working to provide additional tax relief to our brave veterans and their families. SB 401 would exempt all military retirement benefits from income tax starting next year. This will not only help these families, but encourage these hard-working people to retire in our great state. Many military men and women may retire in their mid to late 40s, so they start a second career. and we want them to do it in Oklahoma.
SB 1670 would extend the sales tax exemption given to surviving spouses of veterans to spouses married to service members who died in the line of duty.
There are many other bills that will provide much-needed tax or financial relief to Oklahomans. These are just a few of the most important ones to watch out for.
You can contact me by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing [email protected]