A bill touted by Republicans as being their “last best” offer to bridge the state’s budget gap and offer teachers and state workers raises is now dead.
The bill ended in an 11-11 tie with no one willing to budge.
It would have increased taxes on gasoline, beer and tobacco to bridge the 215 million-dollar budget gap and provide raises for teachers and state workers. It would also have increased the tax on the production of oil and natural gas, called gross production. A move opponents called a job killer.
“This will kill oil and gas jobs,” said Representative Kevin Calvey (R) District 82. “They already pay far more than their fair share of tax revenue.”
This week, Republicans agreed to add gross production tax to the bill when Democrats refused to pass any new taxes without it. Still, only one Democrat voted for the bill Friday.
House Speaker Charles McCall, who has been very vocal in opposing an increase in gross production tax, and House Minority Leader Scott Inman, who has led the charge in raising the tax both blew off the vote.
Even Appropriations Chair Kevin Wallace (R) District 32, who presented the bill, refused to vote for it.
“I can tell you with the amount of democratic support or lack thereof, that bill will not pass on the floor based on what I just saw,” said Wallace.
Senator Roger Thompson (R) District 8 said, “With the speaker not coming in and voting and with the chair of appropriations not voting, that leadership was never behind the bill to begin with.”
From here, legislators are expected to look at plan-B; that is, dipping into the rainy-day fund and cash reserves and making cuts.
As for those raises, Representative Eric Proctor (D) Tulsa) says, “I think it’s becoming more and more fleeting.”