February 4, 2013
Gov. Mary Fallin is asking legislators to beef up funding for education and state Capitol repairs, while lowering the state's top income tax rate.
The governor outlined her plans during the State of the State Address Monday afternoon at the state Capitol. Her remarks came on the opening day of the Oklahoma Legislature's 2013 regular session.
Read the complete text of Gov. Fallin's 2013 State of the State Address
Fallin asked lawmakers to approve a one-quarter of 1 percent cut to the state's top income tax rate. She wants to reduce the top rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent. The top rate applies to Oklahomans who earn more than $8,700 annually.
Fallin's office projects her proposal will cost the state $40 million in the first year and about $105 million annually when fully implemented.
Last year, Fallin proposed sweeping changes to the state's tax code and a dramatic cut to the top rate of nearly 2 percent, but lawmakers balked at her proposal and ended up failing to pass any tax cut.
Also in her executive budget, Fallin is asking legislators for $10 million to repair the exterior facade of the state Capitol building and to pay for an engineering study that would include a price tag for a total renovation of the building.
The governor also requested an $8.5 million supplemental for the State Department of Education to pay for the costs of the flexible benefit allowance for public school teachers and staff. The actual costs of those benefits have exceeded the projections that were available during the 2012 session.
Superintendent Janet Barresi had requested nearly $40 million in supplemental funding this year.
Fallin also touched on the state's Medicaid program, saying a proposal to expand it is "unaffordable."
The state has rejected President Barack Obama's proposal to expand its Medicaid program for low-income residents who do not have private health insurance. Fallin says a report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured says expanding the state's program would increase its Medicaid costs by $689 million between 2013 and 2022.
Fallin also says expanding Medicaid as proposed by the president would divert huge sums of state tax dollars from education, public safety and other priorities as well as existing health care programs.