The full Senate has given approval to a measure that would repeal an economic trigger that would lower the state’s top income tax rate from 5 percent to 4.85 percent. Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, is the author of Senate Bill 170 which was approved by a wide margin in the Senate on Monday.
The cut would have been just another in a series of Republican tax cuts to the top wage earners in Oklahoma that are believed to be in part responsible for the state’s huge shortfall in budget.
“I believe with this vote the Senate is saying we need to quit digging—we need to stabilize our income,” Thompson said. “At this point in time, we need to pay our bills and let future legislatures deal with the decision of whether to reduce taxes further.”
Thompson, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance, said when the Legislature began cutting income taxes several years ago under then-Governor Brad Henry, the state had a surplus of funds. But after facing revenue shortfalls of $600 million two sessions ago, $1.3 billion last session, and $878 million this year, Thompson said ending the trigger is the right thing to do.
“It would only take growth in the amount of $97 million to trigger another state income tax cut from 5 percent to 4.85 percent,” Thompson said. “That wouldn’t be very much at all after the shortfalls we’ve seen. For right now, we need to focus on meeting our financial obligations.”
SB 170 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.