Meetings To Discuss Budget Canceled At The Capitol

Wednesday, April 26th 2017, 6:42 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

This week, lawmakers are supposed to be meeting in what are called Joint Conferences on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB's), but those meetings have been postponed.

Lawmakers were expected to discuss some of the bigger revenue generating measures.  

Those included increasing taxes on gasoline and diesel; increasing the tobacco tax; and increasing Gross Production Tax: that’s the tax on oil and natural gas production. Smaller producers want the legislature to do away with a three-year-old rule that drops the tax from 7 percent to 2 percent on new wells.

“At the time I was supportive of that. There’s only one thing to say.  I was just wrong,” said Mike Cantrell of the Energy Producers Alliance. “It was the wrong thing to do. We should never do anything, ask for anything from our state that’s not for our state.”

More lawmakers are also on board with doing away with the exemption.  

“We set the rate too low,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Canadian County. “We have to look forward to bring in new reoccurring dollars and there is nothing more important to fund besides those core services than our future, and our future is our children.”

Republican Sen. Frank Simpson, Majority Whip, agreed.

“We gave the deck away. We had all the cards. We had the hand to deal. And we gave it away and let big oil dictate to us exactly what the legislation was going to be,” he said.

Larger oil producers say they’re not to blame for the state’s budget crisis, so they shouldn’t have to pay the price for it.  

“We’re not in this mess because oil and gas does not pay enough taxes. We pay 25 percent of the freight in this state,” said Tim Wigley with Oklahoma Independent Petroleum. “This state’s economy, when it does good it’s because we’re drilling. When it does poor it’s because we’re not drilling. Knowing that math why would we want to change that equation”