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Oklahoma State Senate
Senator Jay Paul Gumm
Assistant Democratic Leader
Senate District 6
Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Johnston and Marshall Counties

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For Immediate Release: May 7, 2007

Senator Jay Paul Gumm
Senator Jay Paul Gumm

Gumm Praises Inclusion of “Back-to-School” Sales Tax Holiday in Overall Tax Cut Agreement

Democratic Author Urges Henry to Sign SB 861

The Democratic author of the “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday praised passage of this year’s tax cut agreement legislation that passed off the Senate floor today.

Senator Jay Paul Gumm said this year’s agreement includes four specific tax cuts—none of which are more important than a proposal he authored for a “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday.

“Because a “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday was included in this year’s agreement, Oklahoma families will no longer have to travel to Texas to save money on school clothes,” Gumm said. “We all will be able to keep our back-to-school dollars in our hometowns with our hometown merchants.”

Gumm said the Oklahoma version would be for the same days and the same items as the Texas holiday, but more importantly the bill will hold counties and cities harmless by reimbursing them for any revenue lost as a result of the tax free shopping weekend. He also pointed to revenue figures from both Texas and Missouri as evidence that a sales tax holiday actually boost local economies during the tax free shopping weekend, so he is confident the financial impact will be minimal.

“The fact is in both Texas and Missouri, local revenues held steady or increased because of greater retail activity during the sales tax holidays,” he said. “By keeping thousands of Oklahomans at home, we stand an even better chance to grow Oklahoma’s retail economy, which would primarily benefit cities that depend on sales taxes.”

Gumm said this tax cut is targeted directly to middle class families and small business owners throughout main streets across Oklahoma.

“A ‘Back-to-School’ sales tax holiday puts real money back into the pockets of middle class families who already contribute so much to Oklahoma’s growing economy,” Gumm said. “It is also critical to put Oklahoma’s retailers – many of them small businesses – on equal footing with retailers across the borders in Texas and Missouri.”

Gumm said when Oklahomans go to Texas, they complete their shopping lists, have a meal, see a movie or even spend the night, draining the Oklahoma economy of even more dollars.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that money spent by Oklahomans in Texas never ends up in Oklahoma municipal coffers or in local Oklahoma economies,” he said. “Keeping shoppers at home that weekend will mean more money for cities that depend on sales tax revenue.”

Gumm, whose district borders Texas, explained a “back-to-school” sales tax holiday is critical for Oklahoma retailers who find themselves at a competitive disadvantage during Texas sales tax holiday weekend.

“Some Oklahoma retailers have taken to absorbing the cost of sales taxes in an effort to compete,” the Senator said. “That simply is not right for our small business community—a community that serves as the backbone of the Oklahoma economy.”

Gumm, who served as the executive director of the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce before coming to the State Senate said Oklahoma retailers, many of which are small businesses, should not have to bear that burden.

“We owe our retail community better, as well as the thousands of Oklahomans who might not be able to afford a trip to Texas,” he said. “The Oklahomans who need this tax break the most are left behind if they can’t afford to make the trip south.”

Gumm said a tax cut like the back-to-school sales tax holiday is not only a winner for working and middle class families, but also for small business owners, city governments and the entire state.

“I am tired of seeing Texas benefit at the expense of Oklahoma families and retailers in my district,” Gumm said. “This bill will allow Oklahoma families and retailers to benefit from a tax policy that encourages our citizens to spend their hard-earned money at home.”

Gumm also commented on the bi-partisan collaboration to push for the inclusion of the “Back-to-School” sales tax holiday in the overall tax cut agreement—noting the importance of working together to move Oklahoma forward.

“Reaching across party lines is crucial in an evenly divided senate,” Gumm said. “When you work together, regardless of party affiliation to move legislation through the process all Oklahomans win.”

In conclusion, Gumm pointed out that the "Back-to-School" sales tax holiday was part of Governor Henry's legislative agenda in 2006. "I certainly encourage the governor to sign this into law," he said. "This is a chance for us all to stand up for working families across the state."

For more information contact:
Senator Gumm's Office:  (405) 521-5586

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