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Tulsa school board calling on lawmakers to increase gross production tax

TULSA, Okla. – As lawmakers continue to battle over a budget at the Capitol, school leaders in one district are calling for drastic changes.

Right now, the state is facing a nearly $900 million budget shortfall.

Following the news of the shortfall in February, the State Board of Education revised the common education budget to reflect $50.2 million in cuts.

Officials say the adjustments were necessary, especially since the Oklahoma Board of Equalization also confirmed a $39.1 million shortfall to the Education Reform Revolving Fund.

With less than a month left in the regular legislative session, an Oklahoma school board is pressuring lawmakers to increase a tax on oil and gas production.

During the Tulsa Public School Board’s meeting on Monday, members approved a resolution that called for a measure to immediately return the gross production tax to seven percent for all wells.

Several years ago, gross production taxes were cut from seven percent to two percent for new oil and gas wells.

Since then, Tulsa school officials say the effects have been “devastating,” according to the Tulsa World.

The board’s resolution says that more than $1 billion in “unnecessary tax breaks to oil and gas companies in the last three years alone have been a contributing factor to the decreased education budget and recurring revenue failures… Eliminating these tax breaks and returning the Gross Production Tax to the historic levels of 7 percent would yield approximately $500 million in 2018.”

The resolution says seven percent would not affect oil and gas drilling, since it is either equal to or less than other states.

The gross production tax in Texas is seven percent, while North Dakota’s is around 10 percent.