The Economy-Minded Guide to Oklahoma’s 2012 Legislative Session

  • Joe Wertz

Joe Wertz / NPR StateImpact

Oklahoma’s 53rd legislature reconvened Monday at the state Capitol. The regular session runs through May, and StateImpact Oklahoma will concentrate our reporting on legislation with a direct impact on the state’s economy and the workforce.

We’ll attend key meetings and hearings in person, but our focus will be explaining the issues, outlining the important debates, identifying influencers on all sides, and reporting what proposed measures really mean for Oklahomans.

Some Basics

  • 10 agency ‘Budget Hogs‘ gobble up almost 90 percent of state appropriations
  • Where does the state get its money?
  • StateImpact’s Q&A with Oklahoma House and Senate budget leaders on their priorities and what Oklahomans can expect in the 2012 legislative session.

Who’s Your Lawmaker, and What Are They Up To?

Big Budget Issues

The Income Tax:

Several bills have been proposed to reduce and phase-out Oklahoma’s individual income tax.

[bill id=”HB 3061″ state=ok session=”2011-2012″ align=left]

The language of Gov. Mary Fallin’s proposal, the Oklahoma Tax Reduction and Simplification Act, could be included in a shell bill authored by House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee.

Two takes on the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs’ “Laffer Plan,’ HB 3038 and SB 1587, would gradually phase out the income tax over 10 years.



Tax Credits and Economic Incentives:

Eliminating some tax credits and economic incentives is one way lawmakers propose to save state money.

[bill id=”HJR 1089″ state=ok session=”2011-2012″ align=left]

Tax credits were scrutinized by an interim task force, which made recommendations on types of credits to eliminate and changes to how such incentives were approved, monitored and enacted. This measure, HJR 1089, would amend the state constitution to include the criteria recommended by the tax credit task force. If approved by the House and Senate, it would be included as a state question on the November 2012 ballot.


Internet Tax‘:

Brick-and-mortar retailers in Oklahoma have ratcheted up efforts to pressure state and federal lawmakers to level the playing field when it comes to sales taxes.

[bill id=”HB 2586″ state=ok session=”2011-2012″ align=left]

This bill would change the definition of what “physical presence” means for sales tax purposes. Businesses that are based in the state but lack a “physical storefront” would be required to collect sales taxes, eliminating a loophole brick-and-mortar retailers say amounts to unfair competition from online companies. The new definition would require sales tax collections from any business with an office, warehouse or sales and distribution house in Oklahoma.



Debts are down, but public pensions are a big deal in Oklahoma.

[legislator leg_id=OKL000098 align=left]

Last year, measures were signed that mandated full funding of cost-of-living adjustment increases, increased retirement age for judges, teachers, elected officials and public employees.

This year, the focus is on police (HB 2319) and firefighter (HB 2320) pensions, but Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Oklahoma City, has filed several bills this session that deal with other pensions and public employee retirement plans.




Key Documents

Governor’s Executive Budget

Click here to read an online version of Gov. Mary Fallin's 2012 executive budget.

Gov. Mary Fallin released her $6.6 billion executive budget to the state legislature when the session started on Feb. 6. Her budget is flat for most state agencies, but calls for $124.8 million in new spending and $78 million in supplemental appropriations.

Supplemental appropriations requests include:

  • $37 million for teacher’s flexible benefit plans
  • $34.1 million to replenish the Emergency Management Department’s disaster reimbursement fund
  • $6 million to hire more Highway Patrol troopers
  • $1 million for the state Medical Examiner’s Office

The budget also includes $5 million for the Governor’s Quick Closing Fund and $5 million for Oklahoma State University Medical Center in Tulsa, both of which were approved last year but received no funding.

Proposed Agency Funding Breakdown