A bill to take money away from counties and pour it into state coffers died in the state House of Representatives.
Back in November, voters agreed to modernize Oklahoma’s alcohol sales.
The plan is expected increase sales leading to more sales tax dollars for counties, but some state legislators saw an opportunity to help bridge the state’s budget deficit.
“I guess it comes really to a decision point of whose budgets are hurting worse, the state budget or the county budgets,” said state Rep. Glen Mulready and Floor Leader, who said the state’s budget crisis is more important.
He proposed a bill that would cap the county’s portion of alcohol sales tax at $13 million and put the what’s left; roughly $40 million, into the state’s general budget.
“We are trying to protect the counties and we’re trying to address about 900 million different things for the state,” he said.
“How can you say that you’re trying to help the counties by capping this artificially at $13 million rather than just continuing to allow the one third to go to those areas of the state?” Rep. David Perryman and Minority Floor Leader asked.
“Well maybe protect wasn’t the right word if I used that word, but it would be more to keep them whole. That’s the intent, to keep them whole, and to funnel additional revenues to our state,” Mulready responded.
Opponents like Rep. Shane Stone, D-Oklahoma City, said the bill is the opposite of the conservative values some backers espouse.
“There’s such a move away from local control and such a move away from funding county government it shocks me,” Stone said.
In the end, the bill failed by a 48 to 38 margin.