State legislative update

Posted on: 5/10/17

Oklahoma budget negotiations stalled as the Senate leadership opposed a provision that was new to many “budget watchers.”  The expansion of tribal casino roulette and dice games included in the proposed $400 million revenue package was offered to Oklahoma Senate leadership Monday, and was rejected as part of the package. State Sen. Mike Schulz, the Senate president pro tem, said he opposes allowing Las Vegas-style roulette and dice games in Oklahoma.

On Monday, House Minority Leader Scott Inman was quoted as stating that a potential revenue agreement had been reached between the House Democrat Caucus and House Republicans. The agreement included the tribal gaming issue. Inman said the agreement, reached over the weekend, included a variety of revenue measures supported by a majority of representatives. The proposal included raising the cigarette tax, a cap on itemized deductions, restoring the earned income tax credit, sunsetting about $50 million in oil and gas tax credits, as well as the tribal gambling compact language. The agreement brought more than $400 million in revenue to the state. The proposal did not include raising or altering the gross production tax (GPT) rates or the proposed motor fuel increases.

HB 2372, the $1.50 cigarette tax increase, Osborn/David, passed the Joint Committee on Appropriations & Budget (JCAB) on Monday, May 8. The bill creates the Health Care Authority Enhancement Fund, the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Enhancement Fund, the Human Services Enhancement Fund, University Hospitals Enhancement Fund (OU Medical Center), Oklahoma State University Medical Authority Enhancement Fund, and the Health Department Enhancement Fund, and apportions the first $185 million among the funds for FY2018. The bill will now go to the House floor for consideration. Because the bill is a revenue raising measure it must be passed and signed by the governor prior to the last five days of the legislative session. This session must adjourn sine die by Friday, May 26.   

The Oklahoma Senate passed SB 170, Thompson/Sears, which repeals the trigger that would cut the state’s individual income tax rate from 5 percent to 4.85 percent. The bill now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin, who is expected to sign it. The bill would repeal 2014 legislation that provides a mechanism to reduce Oklahoma’s top tax rate when tax collections increase by about $100 million annually. Since then, revenues have declined and the state faces a budget hole of $878 million.  (Lynne White)

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