OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Governor Kevin Stitt signed legislation that lowers income taxes on individuals and businesses as well as increasing the controversial school funding voucher limit.
House Bill 2962 cuts individual income tax rates by 0.25%, lowering the top rate from 5% to 4.75% and House Bills 2960 and 2963 reduce the corporate income tax from 6% to 4%. Both tax changes are effective Jan. 1, 2022.
“I am proud to sign legislation that lowers taxes and lets hardworking Oklahomans keep more of their money,” said Gov. Stitt. “I’ve pledged to make Oklahoma a Top Ten state for business and making our business taxes among the lowest in the nation is another tool that will help us continue to recruit and retain companies.”
Stitt also signed Senate Bill 1080, which is aimed at increasing funding for the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act which provides tax credits to donors who voluntarily contribute funds to support education, including public school foundations.
SB 1080 raises the amount of tax credits available for the program to $50 million, with $25 million for public schools and $25 million for private schools.
“Over the past year, it’s become even more clear that education is not one-size-fits-all,” Stitt said. “Parents and students across Oklahoma want more options, and this program helps create more opportunities for kids to attend the school that best fits their needs.”
However, not everyone is on board.
“This is touted as a win for school choice. This is something that individuals who want to privatize education have been pushing for for a long time. It’s potentially excluding $50 million of revenue that could be appropriated,” Hicks said.
House member Forrest Bennett, (D) District 92, also has concerns.
“The disingenuous part about it is that the public school side is very rarely utilized and certainly never met the cap. The private school side has. So, they try to make it look like this is equitable but it really isn’t,” Bennett said.
The legislation signed today is part of a comprehensive budget agreement announced last week.
This budget appropriates $8.8 billion, which is a 14.3% increase over last year’s budget.
“The budget gives education its highest ever budget at $3.2 billion. Since 2018, the Legislature has provided a 25% funding increase to education,” said Rep. Danny Williams, (R)-28. “Also included in the budget is a $27 million increase for textbooks and increased money for the school activity fund.”
The remaining pieces of budget legislation are being reviewed and await the governor’s signature.
The Legislature says it’s on schedule to complete its first 2021 session on time Friday, May 28.