The Senate this week kept its commitment to provide tax relief for Oklahomans with the passage of Senate Bill 1246. The bill will reduce our income tax rate to 5 percent, and includes provisions that will further cut the rate to 4.85 percent, once economic indicators enable us to do so. Oklahomans have entrusted Republicans with control of the Legislature, and we intend to keep our promise to put more money back in their hands. I believe Oklahoma families can do a better job spending their own money than the government would.
Our tax cut proposal is fiscally responsible and allows us to balance the budget, encourage economic growth, and provide relief to Oklahomans.
As employers consider our state for relocation and investment, we want them to see a Legislature that is committed to pro-growth policy. In recent years, we’ve made significant progress in scaling back the burdens of taxation, regulation and litigation on Oklahoma employers. With neighboring states lowering, and even eliminating their income tax, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. Tax relief needs to remain a priority in order to maintain our economic momentum and enable us to compete for jobs and investment.
We also approved important legislation to combat Oklahoma’s epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Senate Bill 1821 will require doctors to check the state’s online prescription monitoring program before prescribing a narcotic. This proposal will crack down on doctor shopping, prescription fraud and other activities that have contributed to Oklahoma’s prescription abuse problem. Oklahomans age 12 and older exceed the national average for the use of painkillers by more than 65 percent. And, more than 80 percent of drug-related deaths in Oklahoma are caused by prescription drugs. Prescription drug abuse has a powerful impact on crime rates, family breakdown and productivity losses. Simply put, it is destroying the lives of too many Oklahomans. As a state, we have to address this issue.
I was grateful this week for a Senate committee’s approval of my proposal to strengthen penalties for human trafficking. Senate Bill 1433 would guarantee that persons convicted of human trafficking will serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. Combating this insidious crime has been a priority of mine since being elected to the state Senate. Child trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world, and we must do everything in our power to prevent children from being transported by force, abused and exploited. In 2009, I authored legislation to increase penalties for human trafficking – this measure will ensure those penalties are effective in keeping some of our worst criminals behind bars.