Legislative leaders may have been close to an agreement on the state budget. Or maybe not. It all boils down to who you ask.
House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D) says when he came to work this morning, he really thought there was a budget deal. “We thought we had an agreement.” Inman said, “We worked out an agreement to where a majority of my caucus and a majority of my caucus would support a variety of revenue measures.”
Those measures include 400 million dollars in new revenue that would come from, among other things, a cigarette tax; a cap on itemized deductions; restoring the earned income tax credit; 50-million dollars in oil and gas credits; and tribal gaming deals. “Apparently senate leadership for a variety of reasons apparently has decided to renege on the negotiations.” Inman said.
But senate leadership says, not so. “There was no agreement that happened last night.” Said Senator Mike Schulz President (R) Pro Tempore, “There was another proposal that was floated out.”
That proposal, according to senate leadership, included expanding tribal gaming “Leader Inman was asking for full blown Vegas style gambling in Oklahoma. Something that I’m not sure he quite understood.” Schulz said.
Representative Inman said, “There’s some language in there that the tribes wanted that they think could bring in additional revenue dealing with their ability to do different things at the casino. I don’t have all the details necessarily.”
Senator Greg Treat (R) Majority Floor Leader responded, “We’re tired of the gimmicks. We want a package not contingent on on us expanding to Vegas style gambling.”
In the end there is one thing lawmakers seem to agree on. “We’re here today no closer to a budget deal than we were a week ago.” Inman said.
The senate did meet in a joint budget meeting this afternoon and passed the expanded gambling bill, but senate leadership is morally opposed to it, so it may not go anywhere.