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State Capitol Reporters Roundtable

Written by Dick Pryor on Wednesday February 29, 2012


The Sheet

February 12, 2012

Now that the 2012 Legislative Session has begun, it's time to once again convene a State Capitol Reporters Roundtable to talk about Governor Mary Fallin's State of the State address and the issues confronting Oklahoma's legislature.

Our guests are: Scott Carter, The Journal Record; Michael Cross, KOSU Radio; Michael McNutt, The Oklahoman and NewsOK; and Shawn Ashley, eCapitol.

The biggest story of the legislature's first week is the governor's proposed cut in the personal income tax rate, from 5.25% to 3.5%. One of the concerns is whether such a move can be "revenue-neutral." That would require major cuts to tax credits and exemptions given out each year to reduce the tax liability of citizens and business entities. Secretary of State Glenn Coffee admitted the cut would create a $300 million hole that would need to be filled, either by cutting government services or generating revenue through revisions in the tax code to eliminate tax spending (i.e. credits, exemptions, deductions, etc.)

The suggestion to cut Oklahoma's top state income tax even further comes even as the state is having to manage a revenue shortfall of about $100 million. The shortfall is mostly caused by lack of federal stimulus dollars that have helped Oklahoma weather the economic storm of recession.

This, even as several agencies are seeking supplemental appropriations and the cost of infrastructure repairs, including bridges and the State Capitol building, are exploding. And, as the governor is launching a push to increase the number of college graduates In what is considered a "flat" budget year, it creates an even greater challenge in preparing a balanced state budget.

This is the first in a series of programs we will be doing with reporters who cover the State Capitol. Keep watching. Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Dick Pryor

(Pictured above, left to right: Host Dick Pryor, Michael McNutt, Michael Cross, Shawn Ashley, Scott Carter)

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