Friday, July 31, 2009

Senator Gumm's "Senate Minute" for July 31-August 6, 2009

DURANT, Okla. – Hello again, everyone! Back-to-school is an exciting time for Oklahoma families.

Children get ready to take another step on the path to becoming adults, either beginning school or entering a new grade with new challenges. Parents work hard to ensure their children are ready for those challenges, buying school supplies and getting new clothes.

For years, we in Oklahoma watched Texans enjoy a “back-to-school” sales tax holiday, a three-day period during which items of clothing and shoes with a purchase price of less than $100 are sales tax-free. Thousands of Oklahomans crossed the border annually to take advantage of this important tax break.

For years, many of us in the Oklahoma Legislature fought to give our families a chance to enjoy that same tax break. For years, big city mayors and the lobby group representing municipal governments killed this important tax cut.

When I became your senator, I promised I would never give up until the back-to-school sales tax holiday became law in Oklahoma. It took hard work, tenacity and bipartisan cooperation, but in 2007, I was proud to help pass Oklahoma’s back-to-school sales tax holiday.

The tax-free holiday begins this year at 12:01 a.m. Friday, August 7. From then until midnightSunday, August 9, there will be no sales tax on items of clothing and footwear with a purchase price of less than $100.

Oklahoma families will get to keep more of their money, spending it on items they need rather than coughing it up in the form of a regressive tax that harms most those who have the least. The sales tax holiday is good policy that makes good sense for families and retail businesses. That’s especially important during difficult economic times like these.

We wrote the Oklahoma law to coincide with the Texas back-to-school sales tax holiday; it was originally planned to be the same weekend and on the same items as Texas. However, two weeks after our law was signed, the Texas Legislature moved their holiday to later in the month, meaning Oklahoma has the first weekend in August all to itself.

Many retailers report Texans cross into Oklahoma to make back-to-school purchases, giving our state an even greater boost. Also, in northern parts of Oklahoma, retailers report many Kansas residents cross the state line to take advantage of our holiday.

The holiday has been a huge success. We keep Oklahomans shopping in our hometowns, attract shoppers from other states, save families millions of dollars, and boost our economy. That’s a “win-win” that continues to be in the best interest of Oklahoma businesses and families.

For a complete list of tax-free items and answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” about the three-day event, check the Oklahoma Tax Commission’s website at: I encourage every Oklahoma family to take advantage of this tax cut that makes a real difference you can see at the cash register.

Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.

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