House Budget Committee Doesn't Address Oil Drilling, Taxes
OKLAHOMA CITY - Members of a House committee met Wednesday, but with only seven working days to have a budget passed, they still haven't taken up key money raising measures.
Wednesday morning, News 9 was told the House committee would discuss the expansion of oil drilling, called long lateral drilling. Some Democrats want to use it as a bargaining chip to increase the tax on oil and natural gas production, called gross production.
But lawmakers gaveled out without discussing expanded drilling.
"According to the speaker, we were holding that until he tells us it's time to put it on the schedule. What's the holdup? I don't know,” said Representative Leslie Osborn.
"Not sure what's going on, but this issue along with the gross production tax are the two hottest oil and gas issues out here. And I think you've got members who just want to get it right and make sure they got the votes and so forth,” said Tim Wigley, Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association.
Smaller vertical drillers said the larger horizontal drillers are digging into their well and their profits. They're not sure what to make of the speaker pulling the bill.
“Doesn't mean it's dead. Just means we're going to think about it for a while. We're hoping he did that because he didn't have the votes. Because we've been working pretty hard to explain the position of vertical operators and the damage that's being done across the state to them,” said Mike Cantrell, Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance.
The smaller drillers also want to see an increase in the tax on the production of oil and natural gas.
“If we restore that for everybody, we could fill half a billion-dollar hole that we’ve got in our budget,” said Cantrell.
House Minority Leader Scott Inman said his caucus won’t back some other revenue generating measures without an increase in gross production tax. And although Republicans control both houses, Democrats votes are needed to pass the increase.
The House and Senate both plan to have more committee meetings on the budget Thursday.