OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A state House panel Tuesday passed legislation that would accelerate elimination of the estate tax in Oklahoma despite the objections of one lawmaker who said cutting taxes is bad public policy in a tight budget year.
Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, urged members of the House Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation to reject the Senate-passed bill because it would further erode the state”s revenue outlook. State officials say budget writers have $114 million less to spend than they did last year.
“This is a bad idea,” Morrissette said.
In the past three years, lawmakers have passed the largest tax cuts in state history, reducing the top personal income tax rate from 6.65 percent to 5.5 percent. Morrissette said lawmakers should not consider cutting taxes again until they adequately fund public schools, state prisons and other state services.
“This is not something we need,” he said.
The bill would eliminate the Oklahoma estate tax a year earlier than previously planned.
Under current law, the estate tax will go off the books in 2010. The measure by Rep. Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher, would eliminate the tax in 2009. Johnson said the bill would reduce revenue by $30.2 million in 2010 but will not affect next year”s state budget.
“The estate tax is a very unfair tax and it should be eliminated,” Johnson said. But he agreed that state revenue is down and said it may not be feasible to accelerate elimination of the estate tax this year.
Johnson said he plans to keep the bill alive so the idea can be considered by budget negotiators.
The measure, Senate Bill 1383, passed 5-2. Morrissette and House Democratic Leader Danny Morgan of Prague cast the no votes.
The bill now goes to the House Appropriations.