Thursday, October 05, 2023

Conservative senators lament Senate's abrupt killing of Stitt's tax-cut special session

Despite being the most conservative governor Oklahoma has likely ever seen, the Republican leadership in the State Senate has pretty much decided to oppose most of Gov. Kevin Stitt's policy proposals. Given that much of what Stitt has pushed for are ideas that candidates like Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat have campaigned on in the past, it seems to primarily be a battle of egos and political futures.

With state coffers flush with taxpayer money, Governor Stitt had the audacity to suggest that the Legislature do something to give taxpayers a break and stop seizing so much of their money. On Tuesday, without so much as taking the slightest move towards considering anything in Gov. Stitt's special-session call, Pro Tem Treat moved to adjourn the Senate 'sine die', thus effectively ending the special session a handful of hours after it began.

So far, at least four conservative GOP senators have spoken out in disappointment at the move, and the Senate's failure to provide tax relief for Oklahomans. Read on for comments from State Sens. Warren Hamilton, Cody Rogers, Blake Stephens, and Rob Standridge (in order from first received to most recent):

Hamilton comments on special session

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 4th) – Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, released the following statement after the Senate’s Sine Die adjournment from special session Tuesday.

“I am disappointed that we adjourned from special session without providing tax relief to Oklahomans. We have put historic amounts in state savings, and it is time to give back to hard-working taxpayers. In addition, poor national economic policies have caused inflation that is making it difficult for Oklahomans to afford basic necessities. It is time to provide a personal income tax cut to our citizens and eliminate the grocery tax. Today, we missed the opportunity to answer the governor’s special session call and provide real relief to the Oklahomans we represent.”

“Oklahomans should be using their dollars at local businesses and supporting the state’s various industries rather than sending more to the government. On a positive note, I look forward to revisiting tax cuts and reform in the public meetings and open discussions that have been proposed under Senate leadership’s declared plan to increase budget transparency.”

Sen. Rogers comments on special session

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 4th) – Sen. Cody Rogers, R-Tulsa, released the following statement regarding the Senate’s adjournment from special session Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to deliver a tax cut to Oklahomans during this special session. One of the arguments against lowering income tax is that we will lose too much revenue or will have to raise other taxes to make up the difference. Oklahoma’s economy has seen continued growth and our historic state savings offer security in the event of a downturn. Rather than Oklahomans’ hard-earned dollars continuing to grow government savings, it is time to put their money back in their pocket. I look forward to revisiting discussions on reducing income tax and eliminating grocery tax, but if we can’t come to an agreement and provide these tax cuts, I’d like to see our surpluses go towards one-time funds for infrastructure projects to improve roads and bridges.”

Sen. Stephens disappointed in special session adjournment

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 5th) - Sen. Blake “Cowboy” Stephens, R-Tahlequah, released the following statement Thursday regarding the special session.

“Earlier this year, we successfully eliminated the corporate franchise tax and the marriage penalty tax, and this special session gave us another opportunity to provide tax relief for all hardworking Oklahomans. I was surprised and disheartened that we adjourned so quickly without figuring out a way to responsibly lower the personal income tax. We’ve been fiscally conservative and built up historic savings in recent years to protect vital state services during economic downturns and have made record investments in education, public safety, and other important areas. Now our citizens deserve tax relief as well to help counteract the growing financial burden from out-of-control national inflation and the slowing economy.

“Oklahomans deserve real tax reform, and the Senate has been working hard the last several months to come up with the best solutions. I’m looking forward to further discussions on meaningful tax reform, including not just lowering the personal income tax but also possibly eliminating the state tax on groceries – real reforms that will help Oklahomans while still protecting critical state services.”

Sen. Standridge statement on special session

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 5th) – Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, released the following statement Thursday regarding the special session.

“This week I was very disappointed, but not surprised that the Oklahoma State Senate met in special session, with billions of dollars hoarded away for tomorrow’s politicians’ newest pet projects, for not even a full day, only to say the financial challenges of millions of hard-working Oklahomans is not worth our time.

“I have been serving in the Oklahoma Senate for eleven years, and it is amazing to me how much the Senate, and the legislature in general, has changed. When I came in, we told citizens we would decrease the size of government and lower taxes, and we did that for over half my time in service. But, over the last few years we have steadily grown government, spending like drunken sailors on every new program that comes along, while giving no significant relief to the hard-working Oklahomans who voted us in office to help them keep more of their money. It is their money after all.

“It has been mentioned that there is not enough time in special session to give taxpayers a financial break, but over the last year I have seen us extend special sessions for months until leadership got the vote they wanted on tribal compact policy, have watched leadership hastily throw together one billion dollar deal after another trying to bribe foreign woke companies, like Panasonic, to come to Oklahoma, using hard-earned taxpayer dollars to do so, and saw leadership spend over a hundred million dollars in additional funds for higher education, seemingly a financial reward for their non-stop efforts to discriminate based on race and indoctrinate young college students into their leftist ideology.

“What was done this week, simply, was a slap in the face to hard working Oklahomans, telling them that their financial stability during this extremely unstable time with skyrocketing inflation, out of control interest rates, and a federal government arming the IRS and raising taxes, was just not worth the time.

“I ran for office to decrease the size of government, lower taxes, stand up for parents’ rights, and protect Oklahoma’s children from attacks from every direction, much of it paid for by the very parents who are very upset by it. I have always and remain committed to these conservative ideals and leading through the convictions of my faith, and this week, as has the last few sessions, robbed me of that opportunity.

“I would encourage Oklahoma voters to remember what your legislators promised you when they ran for office, hold them accountable, and in any future election cast your vote for those candidates that are truly conservative and led by their principles and faith. Oklahoma desperately needs leaders that are willing to stand strong and put their constituents above their own political aspirations.”


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