Another Failed Attempt at Raising Revenues

After a full day of twists and turns on Tuesday, another attempt to raising revenues failed in the House.

Republican leadership in the House and Senate, along with Governor Fallin called on House Democrats to help push the revenue raising effort forward. The Democrats took a stand of their own saying they didn’t want the budget to be balanced on middle class Oklahomans with oil and gas producers not paying an increased share of taxes.

The journey began in the afternoon meeting for the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB) with House A&B Chairwoman Rep. Leslie Osborn presenting House Bill 2414. The measure included a $1.50 per pack increase on cigarette taxes, a six-cent increase on fuel taxes and shortening the time which the gross production tax would be charged at two percent from 36 months to 18 months. It is estimated the bill would raise nearly $343 million to state coffers for the next fiscal year. The gross production impact would be felt in fiscal year 2019.

During questioning, tension between Osborn and House Minority Leader Scott Inman began to rise over the cigarette tax increase. At one point, Rep. Earl Sears called for a point of order to stop the “tit for tat” over the tobacco tax. Inman and Sears began joking which broke the tension.

The JCAB eventually approved the bill late Tuesday afternoon with an 18 to nine vote. HB 2414 was then fast tracked to the House floor and a wider line of questioning and debate.

Osborn took to the floor just before 7 p.m. to present the bill. Questions and gamesmanship began in earnest. The Democrats tilted their questions toward the fairness of the tax adjustment for oil and gas producers versus the cigarette tax and fuel tax impact on the poor.

It was about an hour of questions before debate over the bill began.

House Republicans who take a strict stance against tax increases joined a unified Democratic Caucus to debate against HB 2414. Those Republicans who sided with Osborn pleaded with fellow House members to take this step to close the nearly $1 billion budget gap.

Passions flared on both sides. A little more than an hour of debate led to a final vote.

HB 2414 didn’t get the 3/4ths vote required. It did receive 51 votes which is enough to send it to a vote of the people. Osborn also put in notice she could ask for a reconsideration of the vote on HB 2414.

The process starts again when the JCAB meets Wednesday morning at 10 a.m.

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  1. Tom, 17 May, 2017

    Again, we see that even some Republicans have little understanding of the net affect of raising taxes! Especially disconcerting that some want to cut off the hand that feeds them, by shortening the time until the increase of the 2% production tax period from36 to 18 months.

    After the mayhem created by the decline in O&G activity in Oklahoma, when producers were forced to cut spending, we have a government that thinks spending cuts are anathema to good government! Just the opposite is true! Responsible politicians would cut spending across the board!

    And yet, we continue to waste hundreds of millions of $, annually, on windmills! That industry will never be self-sustaining. See what 60-years of wind power have done for California! Nothing!


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