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Gov. Fallin delivers final ‘State of the State’ address

OKLAHOMA CITY - Gov. Mary Fallin has delivered her eighth and final 'State of the State' address for Oklahoma.

"Let us make no mistake about it," Fallin said. "This is [a] historic, defining moment before us. What we do as a unified group of people elected by the citizens of our state could be considered the moment in time that changed Oklahoma."

Fallin's speech fell on the same day as the start of a new legislative session. At the same time, lawmakers are still in the second special session, which began in December after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on the budget.

During her speech, Fallin praised the 'Step Up Oklahoma' plan. Under the proposal, the plan would affect taxes on the following:

  • Tobacco
  • Motor fuels
  • Wind-power generation
  • Personal income tax
  • Refundable income tax credits
  • Gaming activities
  • Gross production tax on energy companies.

Democratic leaders said they agree the Legislature is entering a "unique" session with the concurrent special session; however, Rep. Emily Virgin said they are holding strong to a 5 percent gross production tax.

"We know that the public wants 7 percent. We hear that over and over," Virgin said. "We felt that it was fair to compromise down to 5 percent to meet oil and gas and to meet the republican majority at some acceptable level."

Others, including Rep. David Perryman, claimed the plan would penalize the wind industry.

"If we tax the wind and the solar industry with unnecessary and burdensome taxes that just retaliate against that industry because of the clean energy that it brings, that will result in higher electric bills," Perryman said.

Sen. Kim David said health agencies are currently facing a shortfall of about $65 million for fiscal year 2018; however, it is a part of the overall deficit of $235.7 million.

Breakdown:

  • $65 million: Health agencies
  • $78 million: Medical schools
  • $92.7 million: Ad Valorem supplemental

Moving forward, David said the deficit would depend on a teacher pay raise.

"If we pass the $5,000 teacher pay raise, we'll have the total obligation in FY19 of about $648 million," David said.

According to Fallin, the 'Step Up Oklahoma' plan has been endorsed by five former governors from both parties.