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Oklahoma Governor signs state grocery tax cut

Gov. Kevin Stitt signs House Bill 1955, an elimination of the state's portion of the grocery tax, Feb. 27, in a ceremonial room inside the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Lionel Ramos
Gov. Kevin Stitt signs House Bill 1955, an elimination of the state's portion of the grocery tax, Feb. 27, in a ceremonial room inside the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 1955 into law less than a week after it passed the Senate with an overwhelming majority.

The move eliminates the state’s 4.5% tax on groceries starting in August, while prohibiting local governments from raising their sales taxes on food until July next year.

Flanked by House and Senate leadership from both parties and supporters of the grocery tax cut holding signs, the governor called the new legislation a promise long overdue.

“Really, since 2019, I’ve been talking about eliminating this grocery tax,” Stitt said. “So I get to deliver on that promise today by signing, the largest single-year tax cut in Oklahoma history.”

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, spoke in support of the tax cut on groceries, calling it a bipartisan and bicameral success.

“It’s a huge day for Oklahomans,” Treat said during the signing ceremony, “It's the tax that will impact more Oklahomans than any other tax we could potentially address.”

McCall expressed his enthusiasm for the grocery tax cut and said he is excited to continue providing inflation relief for Oklahomans, hinting at pending legislation to cut the income tax.

“I'm excited not only for today, for this bill, but for the opportunities that we have the rest of this session to talk about other ways to help the people of the state of Oklahoma,” McCall said.

House Minority Leader Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, praised the legislature's bipartisan efforts to get the cut across the finish line. She said eliminating the state’s grocery tax advances a primary objective of the House Democratic caucus.

“It will continue to be a priority for House Democrats to number one: protect our revenue base,” Munson said. “But we also know that Oklahomans all across the state are suffering when it comes to inflation costs and the high cost of basic necessities like their groceries.”

She said HB 1955 strikes that balance.

Senate Democrat leader Kay Floyd said her caucus will continue to work on providing relief to Oklahomans. She pushed the idea of continuing to work across the aisle to holistically reform the state’s tax system.

“We can’t just pick and choose,” Floyd said. “We need to look at the tax system that we have in the state with a holistic view. Reform is critical.”

Questions about whether an income tax cut is next, however, were left largely unanswered.

McCall and Stitt said they support it. The outlier is Treat, who’s vocalized his reluctance to consider an income tax cut this session after seeing the authorized state budget last week.

“We need to put Oklahoma on a path to zero,” Stitt said. He said if the state continues to see surplus revenues going forward, a zero percent income tax could come in the next five to ten years. For now, he said, “a quarter of a point is very reasonable on our path to zero.”

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Lionel Ramos covers state government for a consortium of Oklahoma’s public radio stations. He is a graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos with a degree in English. He has covered race and equity, unemployment, housing, and veterans' issues.
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