Deadline Looms As Budget Deal Negotiations Continue

Monday, May 22nd 2017, 8:26 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

State lawmakers have until Friday to agree on a budget deal, but they still appear to be miles apart on revenue raising; a job they were supposed to have done last Friday.  

Last week, News 9 saw three deals on revenues fall apart all because of gross production tax -- the tax on oil and natural gas production.  

Lawmakers are not supposed to be passing any revenue raising bills this week, but they did anyhow in the House of Representatives.

“When you look at the title of the bill, tax fee, establishing fee, it’s plain and simple a revenue raising measure,” Democratic Rep. David Perryman, Minority Floor Leader, protested.

Representatives also passed a bill capping itemized deductions at $17,000. Itemized deductions can save taxpayers money by allowing them to deduct expenses like medical costs or mortgage interest. That’s expected to generate $101 million in new revenue.

Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Oklahoma County, opposed the bill.  

“This is a 101-million dollar tax increase on sick people, people who have lost a house due to tornado, and homeowners,” Republican Rep. Steve Vaughan, of Kay County, voted for it. “We’re faced with a situation where we will maybe vote for the biggest tax increase we’ve ever voted for, but members, we are in the biggest hole we’ve ever been in.”

The House also passed a bill to allow counties to decide whether liquor should be sold on Sundays, despite some opposition.

“Most of those domestic violences (sic) for whatever reason seem to happen on Sunday evening,” Republican Rep. Todd Russ, of Beckham County, said. “If you monitor that that is an amazing phenomenon. So the fact that you’re going to leave the hard liquor stores open for Sunday evening just to help them get loosened up and make these situations better is just amazing to me.”

The governor is expected to announce a special concurrent session which would allow lawmakers to continue discussing revenue raising measures, but with just four days left till a budget is due, that still hasn’t happened.  

Note: A quote attributed to Russ was incorrectly attributed to another lawmaker. It has since been corrected.