Oklahoma House Speaker Holding Out Hope On Tax Cuts, Looks To Boost Education


Friday, April 30th 2021, 6:27 pm
By: Storme Jones


OKLAHOMA CITY -

It's a race to the finish under the state Capitol dome as lawmakers near the end of the legislative session.

With less than a month before the end of session, House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said he’s still holding out hope the Senate will take up his plan to effectively eliminate the state’s corporate income taxes and reduce personal income tax.

“I think it’s very early to cast judgment on the level of appetite on those,” McCall said.

However, earlier this month, Senate President Pro Tem. Greg Treat, R-OKC, said, “There is not an appetite to do the corporate income tax cut in the Oklahoma state Senate, there’s not the appetite was in my caucus.”

Despite Treat saying the corporate cut is “not part of the negotiations,” McCall said he hasn't given up hope on the pair of bills.

“If we find an agreement, there’s still a path to enact those this year. If there’s not full agreement, then we always have the second half of the 58th (legislature) next year,” the speaker said.

McCall said House Republicans have advanced all of their legislative priorities on education, broadband connectivity, tax reform and government efficiency.

“Those are somewhere in the legislative process at this time,” he said.

House Democrats said the body has focused too much on controversial national issues like protests, banning transgender athletes and federal overreach.

“This has easily been the most divisive session I’ve been a part of in 11 years in this building,” House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, said. “It’s really unfortunate because never has there been a time where Oklahoma and state needs to come together more.”

With the sights set on the state budget, the speaker said education funding will be a top priority.

“We are very close to putting enough money back into the formula that it will trigger the smaller classroom size,” McCall said.

According to the speaker, after restoring a nearly 3% COVID cut to education, the legislature needs to come up with $25 million more to trigger smaller class sizes under HB 1017.

“Going forward we know the revenues are going to be strong,” McCall said.