More than Sixty Bills Signed by Governor Henry
Two key measures in the Legislature's $150 million tax reduction package were signed into law by Gov. Brad Henry Tuesday.
The measures were among more than 60 bills signed by Henry, including a measure that protects the personal information of victims of violent crime by ensuring it is not available to the public over the Internet.
The tax cut bills reduce Oklahoma's top marginal income tax rate from 6.65 percent to 6.25 percent and raise the standard deduction for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions from $2,000 to $4,000 over the next two years.
A family of four with an income of $50,000 will save $225 under the two measures.
The income tax rate cut was one of the top goals of Republican Speaker Todd Hiett in his first year in the state House's top job. The cut will amount to about $108 million in the first full year of implementation.
"Permanent tax relief for hardworking Oklahomans is one of the most important policies in accelerating growth in Oklahoma," said Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Del City, chairman of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
The measure also eliminates the capital gains tax on Oklahoma-based property for corporations and reduces taxes for Oklahoma's disabled veterans.
The increase in the standard deduction was supported by Sen. Jay Paul Gumm, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senate Democrats.
"Raising the standard deduction helps those Oklahomans who need it most, working families who will spend their tax savings back into the economy in Main Street shops across our state," said Gumm, D-Durant.
The measure also lowers income taxes paid by senior citizens by increasing from $7,500 to $10,000 the amount of retirement income exempted from state income taxes. Gumm said lowering income taxes for senior citizens will make the state a more attractive retirement destination.
As school children and educators looked on, Gov. Brad Henry also signed legislation Tuesday that will boost teacher pay and make instruction more rigorous.
The measures, among Henry's top goals for the 2005 Legislature, provide a much-needed pay raise for teachers and push students to take tougher courses to better prepare them for college and high-paying jobs, Henry said.