For Deena and me, this is a special “back to school” season. In just a couple of weeks, Jacob will enter public schools as a student in Oklahoma’s nationally recognized “Pre-K” program. I am especially proud he will become the fourth generation of our family to attend Durant Public Schools.
He will join the thousands of Oklahoma students beginning school for the first time and those entering new grades, with new challenges on the road to becoming adults. It is an exciting time for families. It is also one of the most expensive times of the year for families. Parents work hard to ensure their children are ready for the challenges a new year brings, buying school supplies and getting new school clothes.
For years, we in Oklahoma watched Texans enjoy a “back-to-school” sales tax holiday. For years, several of my colleagues and I fought to ease the burden on Oklahoma families by passing our sales tax holiday: a three-day period during which clothes and shoes are tax-free. For years, big city mayors and lobbyists 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. Working with lawmakers from both political parties, we were able to build a coalition that defeated the special interests and, in 2007, enact Oklahoma’s back-to-school sales tax holiday. This year, the tax-free holiday begins at 12:01 a.m., Friday, August 6. From then until midnight Sunday, August 8, there will be no sales tax on clothing and footwear items with a purchase price of less than $100.
Oklahoma families will keep more of their money rather than coughing it up to state government 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; it is one of the tax policies about which I am most passionate. Two weeks after our law was signed, the Texas Legislature moved their holiday to later in the month. Oklahoma has the first weekend in August all to itself and many retailers report Texans and Kansans crossing into Oklahoma to make back-to-school purchases.
The event is a huge success. Oklahomans shop in our hometowns and we attract shoppers from other states.
The holiday, as predicted, continues to be in the best interest of Oklahoma businesses and families. I encourage every Oklahoma family to take advantage of this tax cut that makes a real difference you can see at the cash register. For a complete list of tax-free items and links to “Frequently Asked Questions” about the three-day event, check my website at http://www.gumm.us in the “News” section.
Thanks again for reading the “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.