Governor signs school choice, tax cuts

Budget & Tax , Good Government

Ray Carter | May 21, 2021

Governor signs school choice, tax cuts

Ray Carter

Governor Kevin Stitt has signed legislation that expands school-choice opportunities in Oklahoma and reduces taxes.

Stitt signed Senate Bill 1080, which boosts the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program that provides tax credits to donors who voluntarily contribute funds to support education, including funds for private-school scholarships as well as public-school foundations.

“Over the past year, it’s become even more clear that education is not one-size-fits-all,” Stitt said. “Parents and students across Oklahoma want more options, and this program helps create more opportunities for kids to attend the school that best fits their needs.”

SB 1080 raises the amount of tax credits available for the program to $50 million, with $25 million for public schools and $25 million for private schools. The grants can be used by families for scholarships to private schools and by public schools for innovative programs or classroom support.

“Over the past year, it’s become even more clear that education is not one-size-fits-all. Parents and students want more options.” —Gov. Kevin Stitt

The program passed by large margins this week in both the House and Senate. Leaders in both chambers cited the school-choice legislation as a major accomplishment after it was sent to the governor.

“This is a great day for all Oklahoma students and families,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “The Equal Opportunity Scholarship program lifts children out of poverty and sparks generational change by allowing deserving kids a chance at a high-quality education they couldn’t otherwise afford.”

“This bill received overwhelming public support and increases opportunities for Oklahoma children,” said House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. “The program is entirely privately funded and encourages those who can to give back to schools and support children with financial hardships or special needs. Passage of this bill invests in our kids and the future of Oklahoma.”

Stitt also signed two major tax-cut bills into law.

House Bill 2962 cuts individual income tax rates, lowering the top rate from 5 percent to 4.75 percent, while House Bills 2960 and 2963 reduce the corporate income tax from 6 percent to 4 percent.

Both tax changes are effective Jan. 1, 2022.

“I am proud to sign legislation that lowers taxes and lets hardworking Oklahomans keep more of their money,” Stitt said. “I’ve pledged to make Oklahoma a Top Ten state for business and making our business taxes among the lowest in the nation is another tool that will help us continue to recruit and retain companies.”

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

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