Cold front brings cooler Fall weather

Budget questions: GPT remains unchanged

OKLAHOMA CITY - A Republican-backed budget deal passed out of House and Senate committees Tuesday afternoon paving the way for it to be heard on the full House floor.

The plan, House Bill 1035, includes a tax on cigarettes, a motor vehicle fuel tax and an additional tax on 3.2 beer while giving a pay raise to teachers and state employees.

But many Democrats say they will not support the plan because it does not include an increase in the gross production tax on oil and gas wells.

During the house Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget, some members expressed concern that the bill was dead on arrival.

“Have you counted the votes? Are there 76 votes or are we wasting $30,000 a day on having this vote?” questioned Democratic Representative, Shane Stone. “What are we expecting to have happen with this bill? Do you realistically think it has any chance is passing?”

“I really think this is just for show. And I think you will find there are a number of Republican members that know this really isn’t going to pass. I would be shocked if this passes,” said Democratic Representative, Regina Goodwin.

“I’m not crazy about this plan. But the bottom line is, we need to fix the problem. And that’s what this gives us the opportunity to do,” said Republican Majority Floor Leader, Jon Echols.

Republican leaders say they are still open to discussing raising the GPT but they can’t get to the 5% number the Democratic Leader has requested.

They say GPT or not, the time for action is now.

“We’re all responsible for our own votes. I keep hearing how we want the problem fixed. There’s an opportunity to fix the problem and that’s before us today, that capability of doing it,” said Rep. Echols.

Any revenue raising measure has to pass by a 75% majority vote which would require 76 votes in the House.

Rep. Echols says if this bill does not pass the House, Republicans have other plans to avoid drastic cuts to state agencies.