OKLAHOMA CITY - It’s a graphic making the rounds on Facebook that has people up in arms.
It shows that tax breaks for horizontal drilling have increased by about the same amount that school aid funding has been slashed.
David Blatt with the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a Tulsa-based state think tank, put the graphic together a couple years back.
“We looked at the cost of that tax break for horizontal drilling, how much revenue was being abandoned, because we were only taxing horizontal production at 1%, and compared that to how much had been cut out of the school aid formula and found it was almost a one to one match,” Blatt said.
He said, today, it’s obviously a different story.
“With oil and gas at such low levels, we would not be getting a lot of tax revenue from oil and gas production, regardless,” Blatt said.
But, he said the revenue that our state lost out on from 2008 to 2014 is staggering.
“Some years, it was over $200 million," Blatt said. "It actually rose to a high of $380 million last year."
“Any time I see a graphic that shows the amount of cuts that education has taken since 2008, it disturbs me,” said Amber England, Executive Director of Stand For Children Oklahoma.
She said they aren’t about pointing fingers but coming up with solutions, which is why they’re pushing to get the penny sales tax for education on the ballot in November.
“To make sure that we’re making investments to help kids read, to make college more affordable and to get people trained for new jobs, specifically those folks who may have lost their job because of the downturn in the oil and gas economy right now,” England said.
We reached out to the governor’s office for comment, but a spokesperson said they would not make one because they feel the two issues are unrelated.