Fallin proposes quarter point tax cut
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Monday, February 04, 2013
2/04/13 at 4:18 PM
Fiscal Year 2014 budget
The text of Gov. Fallin's State of the State address
OKLAHOMA CITY– Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday asked lawmakers to lower the state's top income tax rate a quarter point to 5 percent.
"This proposal gives us the flexibility we need to ensure that we are reducing taxes responsibly, without starving government," Fallin said in a written copy of her State of the State address distributed shortly before her remarks to a joint session ofthe Legislature. "This is not the last tax cut we will see from my administration.
"I am serious about lowering taxes, and I will work to get us a lower income tax rate that makes us more competitive with our neighbors to the north and to the south -- both of which have lower taxes than Oklahoma."
The cost is expected to be $40.7 million in fiscal year 2014 and $105.8 million in fiscal year 2015.
Last session, efforts to pass a highly touted cut in the personal income tax failed to get the needed support.
Fallin also wants to give common education an increase of $13.5 million to fund reforms in prior years, such as the new A-to-F grading system for schools, requiring students to pass four out of seven end-of-instruction exams to graduate and holding third graders back who can't read at grade level.
She also is proposing a $8.5 million supplemental funding request for common education to pay for teachers' health benefits, something requested by State Superintendent Janet Barresi.
Barresi's total supplemental request was for $37.7 million, which included money to pay for funding reforms for the current fiscal year.
Fallin proposed spending $10 million immediately to begin needed repairs at the Capitol. The facility is plagued by structural, plumbing and electrical problems.
Lawmakers last session could not get the needed votes to pass a bond issue to pay for the repairs.
"The Capitol is a symbol of our state, a place of business and a living museum dedicated to preserving Oklahoma history, literature and art work," Fallin said. "It is not right for visitors to be greeted at this building by construction cones, crumbling facades and a faulty sewer system."
Fallin proposed a $50 million funding increase for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and a $16 million increase for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Fallin called for modernizing the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, saying she proposes additional dollars for the agency charged with keeping up with campaign donations and spending.
"Responsible government means ethical government," Fallin said.
The governor also said she will support restoring local control to cities and towns that want to pass stricter tobacco regulations than found in state law.
"Almost 6,000 Oklahomans die each year due to smoking-related illnesses," Fallin said. "That includes both of my parents. My father died from a smoking related illness when he was younger than I am today."
Tobacco is the state's No. 1 killer, Fallin said.
T.W. Shannon (back right) and Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb applaud for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin as she delivers her State of the State address in the House of Representatives at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City on Monday. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her State of the State address in the House of Representatives at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City on Monday. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Representative Pam Peterson talks with Senator Nathan Dahm, both of Tulsa, before the State of the State address at the Oklahoma State Capitol Monday in Oklahoma City. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Rep. Katie Henke is greeted by Anthony Lauinger, of Oklahomans for Life, INC., as she enters the House of Representatives Chamber before the State of the State address at the Oklahoma State Capitol Monday in Oklahoma City. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World