OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Tax cuts, economic development spending, and an education plan all on the table for this legislative session, but it is uncertain if the state can afford the costs.
“I’m confident, I’ve spoken to the legislature,” said Governor Stitt, during his weekly press conference.
He is hopeful that the Senate and House can navigate the tall order with a limited budget.
In front of show-and-tell posters, Governor Stitt promoted his tax relief plan for Oklahomans.
Between a grocery sales tax cut, a personal income tax cut and corporate tax cut, the total cost would be $655 million on a non-annualized basis. When asked how the numbers work on a yearly basis, he said it would double.
“When you pass a bill this year it would be for just half the year and then you would double these but that’s what’s so confusing and I don’t want to get in the weeds,” said Stitt.
According to the explanation, the true cost would be $1.3 billion.
“I think what you’re seeing is a Governor who is desperate,” said Rep. Andy Fugate, D-OKC. “He’s trying to find something to hang his hat on and the sad reality is this as well as everything else that is proposed by this Governor is nothing more than aspirational.”
With a supermajority in the Senate and House, the decision lies with Republican leadership.
Even with a record state savings account, the appetite for over $1 billion in tax cuts coupled with over $1 billion in spending doesn’t sit well with some lawmakers.
On Thursday, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat was asked how he would spend the potential $700 million from the expiring LEADS Act, which would return to the General Revenue Fund if a company could not sign a deal before the April 15 deadline.
“We need to be very cautious on whatever we spend this year,” said Pro Tem Greg Treat, on Thursday. “But we still see declining projections in the third and fourth quarter.”
The Senate has been the chamber least interested in tax cuts and huge spending packages.
The House passed a grocery sales tax cut and a personal income tax cut, something the Senate has not budged on.
Along with the Governor’s tax cut proposal, there is the potential for the LEADS Act money to be spent in some way. Whether in its original form, or in a new mechanism after the deadline expires is yet to be seen.
And there is the education plan being negotiated between the House and Senate. Both plans cost over $500 million.