State government is flush with revenues

Sen. Bill Coleman

Ten weeks in and another major deadline is behind us. On Thursday, April 14, we completed work on House bills in our Senate committees and our colleagues across the rotunda did the same.

In total, more than 550 House and Senate bills moved forward in the legislative process. We now have two weeks to work through the nearly 270 House bills in our chamber. In all, nine of my Senate bills and nine House bills I’m carrying advanced and will soon be heard in their respective chamber. We have until April 28 to take final action on these measures.

Work on the budget is heating up and an agreement should be announced soon. Our state is experiencing a historical financial high, as revenues have continually come in over monthly estimates. In March, general revenue exceeded the monthly estimate by nearly 40%, bringing us to a grand total of just over $1 billion more in state revenue so far this fiscal year than we had estimated last year.

Should this trend continue, we’ll be able to make a substantial deposit in the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which will ensure our state is protected against future economic downturns and has ample money to respond to natural disasters like tornados, floods, and wildfires.

Given how good our state is doing financially, it only makes sense for the Legislature to give Oklahomans back some of their hard-earned money. This will also help give working families and seniors some relief as inflation has reached historic levels. Here are some bills you’ll want to keep your eye on.

There are two bills, SB 1495 and HB 3349, still alive in the legislative process to cut the state’s 4.5% portion of the grocery tax. This will not impact the portion of sales tax collected by municipalities or counties used to fund local operations and services. The Senate version would be permanent starting Nov. 1, 2022, while the House measure would only be effective through July 30, 2024. Oklahoma is one of only 13 states to levy a state grocery tax along with Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas.

HB 3350 would decrease the Oklahoma individual income tax by .25%, reducing the top marginal rate to 4.5% from 4.75%, beginning in tax year 2023.

SB 1486 provides that if a sale of a motor vehicle includes a trade-in, gross receipts are to be calculated based on the difference between the value of the trade-in vehicle and the actual sales price of the purchased vehicle. This will help provide tax relief by only taxing the total cost of the purchase.

SB 1481 would end the burdensome franchise tax after this year to provide businesses with some tax relief as well.

We’re also working to help provide additional tax relief to our courageous military veterans and their families. SB 401 would exempt all military retirement benefits from income tax beginning next year. This will not only help these families but encourage these hardworking individuals to retire in our great state. Many military men and women are able to retire in their mid- to late-forties, so they go on to start second careers. and we want them to do that in Oklahoma.

SB 1670 would extend the sales tax exemption granted to surviving spouses of veterans to those spouses married to military members who have died while in the line of duty.

There are many other bills that will provide much-needed tax or financial relief to Oklahomans. These are just some of the more major ones to be watching.

You can contact me by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing Bill.Coleman@oksenate.gov.

Photo cutline: Sen. Bill Colema