Little weekend work planned at capitol after budget plan stalls Friday in committee

OKLAHOMA CITY - State house and senate leaders say they will move any legislative work to Monday after a plan to fix the state's budget shortfall failed to move out of a house committee Friday.

"I can tell you with the amount of Democratic support or lack thereof, that bill will not pass on the floor based on what I just saw in this room," said house budget committee chair Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston.

The bill that tied, 11-11, would have increased the state's tax on new oil and gas wells to four percent for 36 months, as well as increase taxes on cigarettes, motor fuel and low-point beer.

"I`m very disappointed that there was a tie vote today," said Gov. Mary Fallin Friday afternoon. "We got to put our politics aside, do what`s best for the state, quit drawing lines in the sand.'

One Democrat, Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, joined ten Republicans in voting in favor of HB 1054. The bill seemingly a compromise after the senate passed a bipartisan resolution Thursday, urging the house to include a GPT increase in a new revenue bill.

Considered "Plan A" in the capitol hallways, a total of six Republicans, including the remaining five Democrats, voted against the measure, but for different reasons.

"People of Oklahoma don`t want tax increases," said Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Oklahoma City. "They want us to look at the waste in government."

"We went from seven (percent) on all wells, to seven on new wells, all the way down to where we are now," said Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, "Which is four at 12 (months), we`ve agreed to their plan."

But it seems an agreement with Republican leadership is unlikely. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, is readying to move forwardon other options to fix the state's budget hole.

That hole, opened up by the Oklahoma Supereme Court this past summer, after Republican-backed $1.50 fee on cigarettes was ruled unconstitutional.

On Thursday, house and senate budget committees advanced a "Plan B" if a compromise on the revenue plan with GPT failed. That would include using cash and making cuts to state agencies.

In light of the stalled bill Friday, work is not expected to take place at the capitol Saturday.

Education advocates are expected to converge on the capitol Saturday morning in support of a budget solution. But that solution will now likely have to wait until Monday.