State lawmakers return to capitol for double special session

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Oklahoma state legislators returned to the state capitol Monday for two special sessions that will take place at the same time.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt called for a special session last month asking lawmakers to repeal the state’s portion of the grocery sales tax in addition to reducing the state’s income tax rates. The legislature also called for their own special session to take place at the same time last month that would allow them to control how nearly $79 Million in Federal funds from the American Rescue Plan would be spent.

Stitt said in May the legislature failed the people of Oklahoma in delivering real inflation relief when the proposed state budget included one-time checks in the amount of $75 per individual and $150 per married couple. However, $20 of that would’ve been paid to the Federal government in the form of taxable income, and the checks would not have been sent out until December.

“That’s not even enough to fill up your gas tank right now. That’s not real relief,” Stitt said back in May.

Because of special session rules, the governor was able to force the legislature back to only consider a repeal of the state’s portion of the grocery sales tax in addition to a reduction in personal income tax rates.

If repealed, there would still be a smaller sales tax collected on groceries that cities and counties would still collect to fund essential core services like public safety and utilities. By law, the sales tax is one of the only primary forms of funding a municipal government may pursue to fund their daily needs.

A new grocery sales tax rate, if a repeal by the legislature is approved, would reduce the collections from 8%-9.5% to 4%-5.5% depending on where a purchase is being made.

The governor’s office said it could save Oklahomans at least $450 annually.

Lawmakers initially clapped back at Stitt’s proposals saying in May they spent a lot of the extra money the state had on a special tax rebate fund to try to lure in Fortune 500 Company Panasonic. Oklahoma is currently competing with Kansas to get a new mega-battery factory that would assist electric vehicle makers like Tesla.

Stitt’s proposal for a personal income tax reduction is to decrease personal income tax rates by .25% for all earners.