-- Says reform more critical than ever in light of Phillips Petroleum's relocation
OKLAHOMA CITY-State Senator Glenn Coffee today urged the Democrat legislative leaders to reconvene the current special session to address the repeal of Oklahoma's income tax. The Oklahoma City legislator likened the announced relocation of Phillips Petroleum to that of Fleming Foods when they moved their headquarters from Oklahoma City in 1999.
"I remember when Fleming relocated their corporate headquarters to Texas our income tax was a significant factor in their decision to leave," said Coffee. "Now Phillips is moving their headquarters and their highest paying jobs to Texas as well. I have no doubt that our income tax played a significant role in ensuring that Phillips executives will soon be moving to Texas. We don't know who the next company might be. We need to act."
While some have suggested that this issue is too complicated to address in a special session, Coffee strongly disagrees. "It would be much better to cover tax reform in a special session when legislators can focus on this one complicated topic," said Coffee. "If we wait till the regular session rank-and-file members will get a 300-page conference committee report dropped in their laps on the last day of session five minutes before the vote. They won't have an opportunity to read the bill, much less understand all its implications. In a special session everyone will have time to understand all the aspects of the issue."
Coffee favors a plan that will remove Oklahoma's personal income tax and sales tax on groceries, and make Oklahoma a pick-up state. He advocates replenishing the revenue with a broad-based consumption tax that covers areas like services, which currently are not subject to taxes.
Noting that both Governor Keating and Senate Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor favor eliminating the personal income tax, Coffee feels that a constructive and lively legislative debate will ensue. "Whatever the proposals, I want to see them brought forward and debated on their merits. Bringing the legislature back in the first week of December will allow us to at least stand a fighting chance if another one of our homegrown companies thinks there are greener pastures south of Oklahoma's borders."