Oklahoma lawmakers push to cut state taxes but some say it is at the expense of education

Oklahoma Politics

Clarification: A quote by the State Superintendent was in the original story but her remarks were on a separate bill. That has been removed.

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – There is a push currently in the Oklahoma legislature to cut personal state income taxes and do away with state corporate income taxes, but those two bills are coming under fire as some say it would cost education millions.

The Speaker of the House says now is the perfect time for tax cuts to bring in new business. Educators say the cuts are disheartening.

“Oklahoma, to be competitive, we have to be competitive both on the business side and on the individual,” said Rep. Charles McCall of Atoka.

The Speaker of the House referring to two bills he helped author. One would eliminate the Corporate State Income Tax over 5 years. The other would lower the personal income tax rate for all Oklahomans.

McCall saying it’s an effort to bring in more new business to Oklahoma over states like Texas that have no personal or corporate state income tax.

“At the end of the day, our profiles just don’t match up and we are not closing the deal,” said McCall.

“When businesses tell us what we’re lacking, it’s those quality of life issues, it’s not our tax code. Its funding for education, its funding for core services,” said Rep. Emily Virgin, House Minority Leader.

Some education officials saying these cuts could cost Oklahoma schools close to 100 million dollars, annually.

“We know that when taxes are cut, it affects all core services including education,” said Alicia Priest, the President of the Oklahoma Education Association.

The OEA President saying this could undercut the teacher pay raise from three years ago.

“It is going to erase the investment that we have made in education and that is not going to helpful for the future of Oklahoma,” said Priest.

But McCall firing back saying he lead the charge as Speaker in 2018 for that teacher pay increase. He says that recent numbers show that every time Oklahoma has cut taxes, it has actually increased total incoming tax dollars.

“We can afford to do this without effecting anybody negatively,” said McCall.

Debate was heavy on the floor as the bill passed the house earlier this month. McCall says currently, with a 1 billion dollar state surplus, now is the time for cuts.

“Looking long term, we are building a bigger economy that can generate more money for public services in the state of Oklahoma,” said McCall.

The bills will still have to go through committee and a Senate vote before they would move on to Governor’s desk.

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