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Oklahoma State Auditor unveils compromise plan to state's budget woes

Oklahoma State Auditor Gary Jones unveils a budget proposal Feb. 15 at the Oklahoma State Capitol. (KOKH/Jordann Lucero)

The Oklahoma State Auditor has proposed a compromise to the state's budget woes.

State Auditor Gary Jones announced the compromise Feb. 15 alongside the House Democrats, who endorsed the plan. Jones' plan includes an increase in the oil and gas gross production tax to five percent for the first 36 months, a 75 cent tax on cigarettes and little cigars, a three cent tax on gasoline and a six cent tax on diesel.

“This proposal will generate approximately $448 million in revenue and is sufficient to fund a $5,000 pay raise for teachers and raises for state employees,” Jones said. “To make this happen, both sides are being asked to give a little.”

The plan, if picked up, would require a 75 percent majority to pass through the Oklahoma House. Earlier this week, a plan endorsed by Step Up Oklahoma failed to garner enough votes to be approved.

House Democrats would also like to implement a cap on itemized deductions at $17,000 per household. The move would exclude charitable deductions.

House Minority Leader Steve Kouplen said the problem Democrats had with the Step Up Oklahoma plan was the funding came from regressive taxes.

“This plan raises a similar amount of revenue, but it does so in a way that is equitable for both high- and low-wage earners," Kouplen said.

On Thursday, legislators began passing plans that would impose across-the-board cuts to state agencies.

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