The Norman Transcript

State/Region

March 23, 2014

Some of Gov. Fallin’s agenda still possible

OKLAHOMA CITY — It’s been seven weeks since Gov. Mary Fallin rolled out her legislative agenda on the opening day of the 2014 Oklahoma Legislature in a state-of-the-state speech and an executive budget proposal that touched on an income tax cut, public pensions, the consolidation of some state agencies and a bond issue to repair Oklahoma’s crumbling state Capitol.

Some of Fallin’s election-year agenda remains alive as the legislative session nears the halfway point. Other proposals were spiked by lawmakers unwilling to go along.

A Senate-passed proposal to issue $160 million in bonds to pay for repairs to the Capitol awaits action in the House, which has passed a related resolution setting a statewide vote of the people on whether to issue $120 million in bonds to repair the nearly 100-year-old building.

The House has also passed Fallin-backed measures to replace traditional pensions for new state employees with 401k-style retirement plans and a companion measure to give many state workers their first raise in seven years.

But the governor’s plan to consolidate Oklahoma’s arts, history and tourism agencies into one organization didn’t make the cut. And while proposals to trim the state income tax by a quarter of a percentage point have been approved in the House and Senate, both contain revenue growth triggers that would delay implementation. The triggers were not part of Fallin’s proposal.

Fallin said she is confident that her top legislative priorities will still reach her desk to be signed into law after the Legislature adjourns in May.

“I am very happy with the progress,” Fallin said. “We have been able to keep things alive and move through the legislative process.”

The first-term Republican governor, who is seeking re-election this fall, said a top priority for lawmakers is her proposal to reduce Oklahoma’s top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent. The Oklahoma Tax Commission estimates the tax cut would trim $147 million in revenue annually.

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