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After Gov. Stitt declines to testify, Oklahoma Senate adjourns special session on same day it started

Stitt points to a graph showing state revenue increasing over time as the state income tax has dropped.
Oklahoma Office of the Governor
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Stitt points to a graph showing state revenue increasing over time as the state income tax has dropped.

It costs taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a day to operate a special session, including the one that began Tuesday morning. The special session was called by Gov. Kevin Stitt to cut taxes.

But by 2:30 p.m. Senators were done.

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat hastily made a motion to adjourn his chamber. He says Stitt refused to appear at a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting in the morning to explain his plan. So Treat called the whole thing off.

We wanted to give the governor the benefit of the doubt that he would actually show up and defend his plan," Treat said. "I'm very disappointed that he chose not to. It's not like he was out of the country. It's not like he was out of the state. He was downstairs."

Stitt did have time for a press conference in the morning. He said he wants to put Oklahoma on a path to a 0% income tax, which he says is necessary if the state wants to keep attracting new residents and businesses.

“People are fleeing from high tax states to low tax states,” Stitt said. “We have to compete against Texas every single day, and they have zero income tax.”

When asked why the state hasn’t eliminated its 4.5% grocery tax yet, Stitt said that’s up to the legislature.

State Speaker of the House Charles McCall said he’s on board for eliminating income tax down the road.

“While we can't do that tomorrow, and I don't believe the governor has called to take the rate to zero, we do agree with the governor on a path to get to zero,” McCall said. “Now, I personally would like to see that move as fast as possible.”

The House was still entertaining bills Tuesday. Treat had called for more long-term planning to ensure the proposed tax cuts are sustainable.

But with the special session essentially over with the absence of one chamber, lawmakers likely won’t be back until the regular session in February. But if they do come back, Treat said he has high expectations.

"The governor may very well call us into another special, and we will undoubtedly, if he does so, expect him to show up and present a plan," Treat said.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Oklahoma Public Media Exchange
Robby grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Journalism degree. Robby has reported for several newspapers, including The Roanoke Times in southwest Virginia. He reported for StateImpact Oklahoma from 2019 through 2022, focusing on education.
Kateleigh Mills joined KOSU in March 2018, following her undergraduate degree completion from the University of Central Oklahoma in December 2017.
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