Tuesday's Special Session Ends Without Resolution

Tuesday's special session to discuss Oklahoma tax cuts ended without much progress.

Tuesday, October 3rd 2023, 4:52 pm

By: News 9


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The special session began this morning but ended for the senate in less than six hours, before they heard any legislation. The house on the other hand, is planning to come back to the capitol tomorrow for a second reading of their tax cut bills.

But, without the senate, the house bills will not go anywhere.

The governor called for a special session with three items he’s asking legislators to discuss: budget transparency, a tax cut to put the state on the path to zero income taxes, and a trigger law mandating that if the court finds that any Oklahoman doesn't have to pay state taxes, then nobody has to pay state taxes.

“Getting these things over the finish line is going to be wonderful for all 4 million Oklahomans to slow the growth of government,” said Stitt.

The special session kicked off with a press conference from Governor Stitt, joined by House Speaker Charles McCall, and a few other lawmakers. Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat tells us he wasn’t invited to speak at that press conference.

Treat invited the governor to come to today’s senate appropriations meeting almost a month ago, to give the senate some more information on his request for tax cuts. Treat called the governor’s call “intensely vague” saying he wanted a specific plan from the governor before the senate would make any moves.

The governor did not show up to the senate’s committee meeting, and Treat confirmed he was notified of Stitt’s no-show from the press conference, not Stitt himself.

"It's the height of hypocrisy to put in a call for budget transparency and then say I'm willing to meet behind closed doors with your caucus but I'm not willing to meet in an open meeting,” said Pro Tem Treat.

House Speaker Charles McCall on the other hand, said from the beginning of the day, the house was ready to answer the governor’s call and pass legislation on tax cuts. McCall discussed lowering the state income tax by a quarter of a percent.

“In the house republican caucus, the vast majority is ready, willing and able to deliver some form of tax relief to the citizens of Oklahoma this special session this year. That's what they demand, that's what they want and that's what we're going to do,” said Majority Floor Leader, Jon Echols (R ) OKC.

Pro Tem Greg Treat says the senate is open to tax cuts, but says they want more time to look at the state's budget and surplus.

While the governor says we have $5.4 billion in the state's savings account to spend, Treat says we only have about $4.1 billion in extra cash we can actually tap into.

Treat says the governor’s figure of $5.4 billion includes education and healthcare money that is already appropriated. Treat adds it's not a good idea to use one-time money for a recurring expenditure like a major tax cut.

Treat said he did not plan on adjournment sine die, when they began the day, but says they would not continue with a special session called by the governor, after he refused to show up and provide information. 

In a statement, Abegail Cave with the governor’s office said, "The Governor has been clear. He wants a quarter point tax cut and to slow the growth of government. Senate leadership is denying Oklahomans their right to keep their hard-earned money while continuing to increase the size of government every year."

She adds no plans have been communicated to her on additional special session plans. 

The house plans to convene at 9:30 tomorrow morning for the second reading of their tax cut bills.

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