Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin Talks Workers' Comp, Taxes

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin Talks Workers' Comp, Taxes

Article excerpt

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin hopes to appoint four conservative judges to the state's Workers' Compensation Court this year and will continue to push for more pro-business legislation, she said Friday.

The state's pro-business legislation was paying off, she said at a breakfast meeting of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

"It's working," she said.

She said many Oklahomans have told her that she needed to develop new legislation for state business issues, including changes to the state's workers' compensation system. Premium costs for the state's workers' compensation insurance have been lowered, she added.

"We have more reforms that will kick into place this spring," she said.

Fallin said her 2011 workers' compensation package lowered rates by more than $30 million. She praised last year's legislation, but said lawmakers had more work to do.

"Our job today is what do we do from here," she said. "How do we keep our momentum going? How do we build on our successes? How do we move forward?"

To do that, Fallin said, the state should simplify its tax code.

Echoing her State of the State speech, the governor called for a reduction in the number of brackets for the code. Estimates show that eliminating the state income tax would take about a third of the state's revenue - more than $2 billion - out of the general revenue fund.

"People heard me say in my State of the State speech that we have seven different tax brackets," Fallin said. "We actually tax the first penny a person makes."

To simplify the system, she called for flattening the tax system to three brackets and reducing the tax level in each bracket.

"Basically, we're cutting it in half (the 5.5-percent bracket)," the governor said. "We're cutting it to zero for those who are lower income and helping the middle class, while making it more attractive for all incomes."

Fallin said she wanted to reduce the code without starving state government.

Fallin's speech drew praise from conservatives. Republican Kyle Loveless, who is campaigning for state Senate District 45, said the speech was right on target. …

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