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Oklahoma House, Senate fail to reach deal on tax cuts

June 16, 2022 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma House and Senate failed to reach a deal on cutting the sales tax on groceries and the individual income tax that Gov. Kevin Stitt was urging them to pass.

The House adjourned a special session on Wednesday after passing an array of tax cut options, but Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat on Wednesday dismissed the proposals as “political theater.”

“We’re for tax reform,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “We just want to make sure it’s good for the long-term future of Oklahoma.”″

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said he would assemble a working group to consider a more methodical approach to tax cuts.

Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt called the Legislature into a special session to consider cutting the state’s sales tax on groceries and reduce the individual income tax rate. The House passed a series of proposals to both temporarily and permanently reduce both of those tax rates, but the Senate did not take action on any of those proposals.

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“The Senate has spent all its time this week finding reasons not to help Oklahomans with inflation,” House Speaker Charles McCall said in a statement. “From starting studies, to refusing to author bills senators already authored in regular session, to deliberately not convening session for action on bills passed by the House and requested by the governor, the Senate has run out of excuses.”

The House and Senate did agree on spending about $90 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds distributed to the state as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The projects the two sides agreed to fund include:

— $15 million to complete a School of Optometry at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.

— $8.8 million for projects addressing the nursing workforce shortage.

— $250,000 for the Health Workforce Training Commission to administer nursing workforce programs.

— $25 million for a grant pool for eligible nonprofit recovery programs.

— $39.4 million to complete the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital Behavioral Health Center.

— $500,000 to provide preliminary support to open a State Broadband Office, which legislative leaders say will be reimbursed through other federal funds once they’ve been accessed.