OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Senate has passed an amended House Bill which now includes an increased gross production tax.
In a 37 to 5 vote Monday, the Senate passed an amended House Bill 1035 which includes fees on cigarettes, motor fuel and 3.2 beer; however, it now includes a rise in gross production tax to 4 percent on gas and oil wells for the first 36 months.
Speaking to members of the press afterwards, Governor Mary Fallin commended both Senate Republicans and Democrats for Monday's vote, adding the measure promises pay raises for teachers and state workers.
"I'm proud it passed with bipartisan support. That's what we've been asking for a long time here at the capitol," Fallin said. "I think the people of Oklahoma have been demanding that we do that. We have to put our state on a good path for success."
During the Senate debate, Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman urged his colleagues to vote in support of the measure.
"The only other option, viable option I've heard out here is to default to the cash and cuts option. I would argue that is not a viable alternative," Sparks said.
House Bill 1035 failed to advance in the House weeks ago when it was first presented. Senate leaders did not tell members of the House they would present the bill Monday, but they said it should hardly come as a surprise.
"It's a different vehicle for the identical language that we had an agreement that we were going to pursue so, although we have not had the discussion on this bill in particular today, we have had an agreement on this concept for the past two weeks," said Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.
If passed, the amended bill would bring in roughly $132.9 million in 2018 fiscal year. Even with the $23 million in rainy day funds, Sen. Kim David, R-Wagoner said it would still leave a $57 million budget hole, at which point lawmakers will have to look at cuts and revolving funds.
The measure now heads to the House for approval.