Lawmakers prepared to work through weekend as budget battle continues
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
Friday is the deadline to get the Oklahoma budget passed on time as Oklahoma legislators continue to battle at the State Capitol.
It was another day of negotiations at the Oklahoma Capitol May 19. The day went by quieter than Thursday as lawmakers drafter a new bill to get enough support to pass the House.
Early Friday, representatives from healthcare, transportation and the oil and gas industry called on lawmakers to approve the new budget deal. The groups suggested a plan with a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax increase, a six cent per gallon increase in fuel and a increase in the gross production tax to three percent.
Industry representatives, like Tim Wigley with the Independent Petroleum Association, said now is not the time to tax the oil and gas industry.
"We're coming out of one of the worst historical downturns we've ever faced. We've seen thousands of people in this state laid off...The costs of drilling in this state are enormous," Wigley said.
Not everyone is on board. House Democrats have said they would not vote yes on a plan that taxes cigarettes or fuel without increasing the gross production tax to at least five percent. Democrats agreed to a plan Thursday that would do that, but that plan was taken off the table by Republicans.
House Minority Leader State Rep. Scott Inman has said he will not support a plan that puts the burden of closing the state's nearly $900 million deficit on the backs of working class Oklahomans.
Some protestors at the Capitol Friday mirrored that statement, including Crystal Davis.
"I am just a concerned citizen who is just fed up with what's going on up here." Davis said. "The oil and gas industry has been getting away with murder."
FOX 25 has received word that a plan has been drafted with new wording that would pass the budget on time. If that doesn't happen, lawmakers are prepared to continue working through the weekend.
Representative Earl Sears told FOX25 he's sure they'll come to an agreement before Sunday's deadline so they don't go into a special session.