Oklahoma continues to get great news regarding revenue growth. This week it was announced the state would be adding another significant sum to the Rainy Day Fund, which has now reached a balance of $535.2 million. Our economy is still strong and growing, with all signs pointing to continued job growth and development. Solid revenue growth also bodes well for our continuing efforts to gradually reduce and ultimately eliminate the state’s income tax.
The governor this week announced that the Legislature will be called back to the Capitol on Sept. 3, for a special session to deal with the issue of tort reform. Earlier this year, the state Supreme Court struck down a landmark 2009 tort reform law on the basis that it violated the Constitution’s single subject rule. We anticipate filing a number of separate bills to deal with the provisions of the original law, and passing them quickly. Republicans in the Legislature had fought for many years to enact meaningful tort reform legislation, and passage of the 2009 law marked a major victory. The bill has also been successful in reducing the burden of frivolous litigation on Oklahoma businesses. I’m glad the governor has chosen to call the Legislature back to quickly deal with this problem, as Oklahoma businesses simply can’t afford the uncertainty and risks created by the Court’s decision.
With kids heading back to school, saving for college may be on the minds of many Oklahoma families. Tuition is rising ever higher, and it’s important that families start planning early to ensure that their children’s dreams can become reality when the time comes. Oklahoma has a tremendous program to help families save for college – the Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan (OCSP). A 529 college savings plan is a state-sponsored education savings program that has several benefits, which include:
• Providing six investment options that can be matched with your specific needs and investment goals.
• An exemption from federal or Oklahoma state income tax on your contributions or withdrawals as long as the money is used for qualified higher education expenses.
• Contribution of up to $20,000 made by individuals filing jointly or $10,000 for individuals can be deducted from state taxable income.
• The funds can be used at thousands of eligible colleges nationwide and abroad for tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment or attendance at those educational institutions, as well as certain room and board expenses.
The OCSP, which began in April 2000, has grown to more than 31,000 accounts with more than $200 million. If you would like to learn more about the Oklahoma 529 college savings plan, you can go to www.ok4saving.org or call 1-877-654-7284.