Senator Jay Paul Gumm
Assistant Majority Leader
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston & Marshall Counties
For Immediate Release: February 1, 2006
Sales Tax Holiday Goes to “The Front of the Line,” Finance
The Senate author of the “Back-to-School” sales
tax holiday said the tax cut, targeted directly to middle class families,
will be among the first bills considered by the Senate Finance Committee.
Senator Jay Paul
Gumm, D-Durant and chair of the Finance Committee, said he was pleased
Gov. Brad Henry joined Senate Democrats in putting the sales tax holiday
at the top of the tax cut agenda. The governor announced Wednesday the
proposal would be a centerpiece of his tax cut agenda; Senate Democrats
did the same a week earlier.
“A ‘Back-to-School’ sales tax holiday puts real money
back into the pockets of middle class families who already contribute
so much to Oklahoma’s growing economy,” Gumm said. “It
is also critical to put Oklahoma’s retailers – many of them
small businesses – on equal footing with retailers across the borders
in Texas and Missouri.”
Both those states have sales tax holidays for back-to-school shopping.
During the three-day holiday – the first weekend in August –
the Texas and Missouri drain thousands of shoppers and millions of dollars
from the Oklahoma economy.
Gumm, who is author of the “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday,
said the Oklahoma version would be for the same days and the same items
as the Texas holiday.
“Oklahomans would be able to stay home to avoid the sales tax on
critical back-to-school items,” he said. “That would strengthen
Oklahoma’s retail economy – especially small businesses on
Main Streets in just about every community.”
Because cities and counties also would have to honor a state sales tax
holiday, some of Oklahoma’s highest profile municipal leaders fought
the proposal, claiming it would put a crimp in city budgets because of
Gumm pointed to revenue figures from both Texas and Missouri as evidence
that neither sales tax revenues nor budgets would suffer.
“The fact is that in both Texas and Missouri, local revenues held
steady or increased because of greater retail activity during the sales
tax holidays,” he said. “By keeping thousands of Oklahomans
at home, we stand an even better chance to grow Oklahoma’s retail
economy, which would primarily benefit cities that depend on sales taxes.”
Gumm said opponents of the holiday fail to take into account the thousands
of Oklahoma shoppers who cross the Red River to take advantage of Texas’
law. When Oklahomans go to Texas, they complete their shopping lists,
have a meal, see a movie or even spend the night, draining the Oklahoma
economy of even more dollars.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that money
spent by Oklahomans in Texas never ends up in Oklahoma municipal coffers
or in local Oklahoma economies,” he said. “Keeping shoppers
at home that weekend will mean more money for cities that depend on sales
The back-to-school sales tax holiday is critical for Oklahoma retailers
who find themselves at a competitive disadvantage during Texas sales tax
holiday weekend, Gumm said. Some Oklahoma retailers have taken to absorbing
the cost of sales taxes in an effort to compete.
The former executive director of the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce,
Gumm said Oklahoma retailers, many of which are small businesses, should
not have to bear that burden.
“We owe our retail community better, as well as the thousands of
Oklahomans who might not be able to afford a trip to Texas,” he
said. “The Oklahomans who need this tax break the most are left
behind if they can’t afford to make the trip south.”
In short, Gumm said, opponents of this holiday expect that the people
who cannot afford to make the trip to Texas should pay more taxes. “That
is indefensible,” he asserted.
Gumm said a progressive tax cut like the back-to-school sales tax holiday
is not only a winner for working and middle class families, but also for
small business owners, city governments and the entire state. In addition,
money not collected by cities in the form of sales tax will find its way
into municipal coffers on other purchases and increased economic activity.
“I am tired of seeing Texas benefit at the expense of Oklahoma families
and retailers,” Gumm concluded. “I intend to use every legislative
means at my disposal to see that this shameful practice comes to an end
next year with passage of the Oklahoma ‘Back-to-School’ sales
more information contact:
Senator Gumm's Office - (405) 521-5586