Legislature appropriations presidents wary of tax cuts | Government and politics

Tax cuts may be in the air, but they are not in favor of the Oklahoma Legislature’s top budget writers.

Addressing a Tulsa Regional House Breakfast Friday, House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Roger Thompson, R -Okemah said they are not in favor of further tax cuts at this time, but they have acknowledged a certain amount of pressure to do just that.

“Last year, we cut corporate (income) tax from 6 (%) to 4 (%),” Thompson said. “We cut (personal) income tax by a quarter point. Corporate tax was about a $237 million cut from the overall budget. The quarter point was a $102 million cut. million dollars.These two elements have yet to be achieved.

“So … this should be the year that we just stand, hang on to what we have and write a budget. Then if the economy continues as it has, it could be a conversation that will work more in the future than it does now.”

Thompson pointed out that he opposed last year’s tax cuts and was voted down and outvoted.

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Wallace expressed similar sentiments but said if revenues were to be cut he favored temporary measures.

“Reducing the sales tax on groceries would probably be the most talked about measure,” Wallace said. “I will tell you that personally I am not for that – for two reasons: it will be bad politics when the voter goes shopping and finds that they are still paying (local) sales tax. asks if, if we remove the sales tax on groceries, we will comply with the simplified sales tax.

The Simplified Sales Tax Agreement is a pact between 24 states, including Oklahoma, to simplify state and local sales tax laws as much as possible to make it easier to collect taxes on online sales. .

Wallace said advisers believe a proposal by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, to suspend the state’s sales tax on groceries for two years would keep the state in compliance with the agreement and would also facilitate the reinstatement of the tax if necessary.

The various sales tax proposals apply only to the 4.5% state sales tax and would not affect local taxes.

Wallace said he was also more willing to extend the sales tax credit, which can be claimed on tax returns, and McCall’s proposal to give one-time rebates of $125 per single filer and $250 by joint statement.

“It’s way better than just cutting taxes,” Wallace said.

Thompson agreed and said he was concerned that some small grocers without computerized checkout systems would have difficulty separating taxable items from non-taxable items.

Both presidents seemed to think that taxes are not the highest priority for voters. They said they hear a lot more about the explosive growth of marijuana cultivation — and in some cases already the consequences — than anything else.

Thompson said some illegal operators are already moving away from their crops, which creates another set of problems, but is a sign that the state is starting to get a grip on the new industry.

“The message got through,” Wallace said. “People pack up in the middle of the night and leave. …

“However, in my home district, where there was one of the big collapses, there are 80 acres that will take three or four years to go through the system. … There are horrors and maybe even things that (the Department of Environment Quality) needs to be looked at in terms of pollutants in soil and water.”

Wallace said his personal priority is to end the waiting list for services for Oklahomans with disabilities. This list, which has sometimes been described as 13 to 14 years long, is shrinking, and Wallace said that for $70 million or even less, it could be reduced to zero.

Rep. Mark Lawson, R-Sapulpa, who has carried much of the related legislation in recent years, said he hopes to have “really good news” on that front by the end of the current legislative session. .

More broadly, Wallace said he would like to replicate the recent success of Pryor’s Mid-America Industrial Park in other locations across the state.

Thompson said his personal priority is to improve compensation for state troopers and other employees.

More than that, he said, “This year should be about politics, about how we can change lives. Everything we have, making sure everything we do is actually changing Lives.”

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