OKLAHOMA CITY - Out of $300 million in additional revenue this year, $130 million will be available for the legislature to work with this session. Senator Johnnie Crutchfield said because of that, the time is right to pass tax selective breaks aimed at helping Oklahoma families and businesses.
"We've passed various tax cut bills during the past few sessions and we have seen our economy continue to grow. I think each of the bills I have authored will help us to continue to become even more prosperous by stimulating our economy," said Crutchfield, D-Ardmore.
Included in Senator Crutchfield's tax cut measures is Senate Bill 16 that would create a 72-hour sales tax holiday for school clothing. The tax holiday would have a revenue impact of approximately $3.5 million.
"Texas already has a sales tax holiday each August, and a lot of people from Oklahoma drive down there to take advantage of it. If Oklahoma implements a tax holiday on that very same weekend, it would help our local businesses compete, and help families with the high cost of getting their children ready for the new school year," explained Crutchfield.
Another piece of legislation that would benefit family businesses and farms deals with Oklahoma's inheritance tax. Currently the first $650,000 left to a son or daughter, or lineal heir is exempt from taxes. But if it is left to a niece or nephew, taxes are paid on the entire amount.
"We want to change that so that those heirs are treated the same. I think this will enable Oklahomans who do not have children to still keep their family farms and businesses in the family," said Senator Crutchfield.
The estimated revenue impact of Senate Bill 12 would be an estimated $25 million.
Senate Bill 14 is aimed at attracting more aerospace industry jobs to Oklahoma, and to help existing businesses expand. SB 14 would exempt aircraft repair parts from the state sales tax.
"We're only talking about a revenue impact of about $1 million dollars here, but I think it could be a very important incentive in helping us expand this industry and generate millions of dollars for our economy," noted Crutchfield.
Senate Bill 119 deals with the gross production tax on oil. While the nation has seen higher energy prices in recent months, Senator Crutchfield says those who make their living in the oil patch know things can change.
"It was just two years ago that we had to pass emergency legislation because of how low oil prices had fallen. Under that legislation, the gross production tax would decrease as oil prices fell. However that legislation will expire July 1, 2001. SB 119 would allow those decreases to stay in effect should prices fall too low again," said Crutchfield.
Under the legislation approved two years ago, oil priced at over $17 a barrel would be taxed at 7%. Between $14 and $17 would be taxed at 4%, while oil bringing in under $14 would be taxed at only 1%.
"Oklahoma's oil and gas industry remains critical to our economy, and to that of our nation. Yet we know how things can change suddenly and dramatically because of OPEC and other international economic considerations. Clearly we must take steps to implement a cohesive energy policy that will help protect our economy. Continuing to allow flexibility in our gross production tax is one-step in developing a much needed energy policy," said Crutchfield.
"I believe each of these measures would benefit Oklahoma families and our economy in the long run. I hope my colleagues in the House and Senate will give serious consideration to each of these bills when the legislature convenes in February."