Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Monday he backs a plan to end the state's tax on groceries.
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, has filed a bill that would do away with the 4.5% grocery sales tax.
Oklahoma is one of 13 states that still taxes food, Stitt said in his state of the state address.
“Cutting taxes based on how our economy grows ensures we’ll always have money to pay for core services like education and roads and bridges,” Stitt said. “As our economy grows, Oklahomans share in our success by keeping more of their hard-earned money.”
Treat said he looked forward to working with the governor.
“Inflation is near a 40-year high and is draining the budgets of all Oklahoma families,” Treat said. “The state sales tax on groceries is a regressive tax that harms working families the most."
Monday was the first day of Oklahoma's 2022 legislative session.
The governor praised the Legislature for prioritizing saving and said the state has the largest savings account in its history at more than $2 billion.
"I’m asking the Legislature to raise the cap on our savings account to continue protecting our future," Stitt said. "This would give us financial security and the ability to make strategic investments like never before."
Stitt said he wants to create a "taxpayer protection plan that responsibly lowers income taxes."
'Nine states don’t charge a personal income tax," Stitt said. "Many others are racing to join them, and we can’t be left behind."
The governor also proposed doing away with the income tax on military retirement benefits.
Stitt said one of his main goals is to make Oklahoma the most business friendly state in the nation. He applauded efforts to steer Oklahoma’s economy away from national trends.
“In the face of criticism, we stayed the course,” Stitt said. “We made smart decisions instead of going on a spending spree. It’s a different story in Washington, D.C., and so are the results. Our national economy is struggling. Inflation is at a 40-year high. Gas and groceries are more expensive. Supply chain issues have made everything harder to find. But if you live in Oklahoma, it’s a different story."
One of Stitt's efforts to support businesses is through a platform the state recently launched to help manufacturers solve supply chain issues.
"Our system connects them to buyers and sellers and keeps their money in Oklahoma," Stitt said. "More than 400 companies are already signed up."
The state is losing classroom teachers to administrative positions, Stitt said. He is proposing matching funds that would allow the state's best teachers to make six-figure salaries.
Oklahoma is also a "proud law and order state," Stitt said.
"As other states and cities are still defunding their police, we have a chance to stand apart," Stitt said. "To do this, we need to tackle four critical areas: the recruitment, retention, health and training of our troopers, agents and investigators."
The agenda includes a wellness division for first responders. It would be a peer-to-peer system to recognize and treat early signs of trauma, Stitt said. He also plans to give officers competitive pay and better training.
"I’m requesting that we pool our resources and build a joint statewide training facility," Stitt said. "Officers put their lives on the line every single day. The least we could do in return is provide them with the highest quality training."