Oklahoma GOP leaders announce revenue plan; Democrats plan to block bill

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin announces a budget plan May 16 backed by House Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz. (KOKH/Kyle Hoelting)

Governor Mary Fallin and Republican leaders in the House and Senate announced Tuesday that they have agreed on a plan to create recurring revenue on the budget and called on Democrats to support the plan.

The governor stated that leadership had agreed on three revenue issues: a cigarette tax, a fuel tax and a change in the amount of months that the Gross Production Tax stays at two percent from 36 to 18. Democrats have previously stated they would not support a plan that doesn't include a GPT that starts at seven percent.

"We've all been working very hard to hopefully avoid having to have a special session...We have to get a budget done." Gov. Fallin said. "No one is going to get 100 percent of what they wanted. everyone has to come together to do what they can do to reach a final bill."

The bill passed through the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget Tuesday with an 18-9 vote. It will now head to the House floor where it must be approved by 75 percent of the State Representatives, meaning that Republicans would need some bi-partisan support.

"This is a great compromise bill...We are compromising on the GPT, compromising on the cigarette tax," McCall said. "We will deliver a super majority of our caucus to support the plan and I hope the Democratic caucus will do the same."

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz said the budget plan has been in the works all session long and this particular plan will help patch this year's budget and budgets to come.

"It moves Oklahoma a good direction." Schulz said. "Not a one of us came here to raise taxes."

Despite talk of a compromise, no Democratic leaders joined Republicans at the press conference. Speaking after the conference Senate Minority Leader Rep. Scott Inman said his caucus will oppose the bill.

"You don't make up for cuts by taxing middle class families," Inman said. "I've never before heard the word compromise used so incorrectly."

Inman stated the Governor has not included the Democratic caucus in budget negotiations.

"What you saw today was 400 million dollars in tax increases on the backs of middle class families and an oil and gas gimmick that brings in zero dollars from the oil and gas industry," Inman said.

Inman told the press to prepare for a special session.

McCall also announced that a funded teacher pay raise package will be introduced in the coming days.

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