OKLAHOMA CITY – Democratic and Republican leaders met with the governor into the evening on Wednesday, trying to hammer out a deal to generate enough money to plug an almost $900 million shortfall in our state budget.
Democratic leaders said they thought a deal had been struck but it all fell through Thursday morning.
“My caucus walked in this morning and accepted a 5 percent deal starting July 1 on all new wells. We accepted the deal. We’re done. We’re ready to go. And, then they pulled the deal out from underneath us,” said House Minority Leader Scott Inman.
Inman said Democrats thought they had a deal to raise the gross production tax on all new oil and gas wells from 2 to 5 percent.
But, he said the oil and gas industry is standing in the way.
“They are literally busing people in today. As I stand here today, there are dozens and dozens of people being bused in here today to come and keep the gross production tax at 2 percent,” Inman said.
Sure enough, rows of oil and gas supporters lined the hallway just outside the room where Inman was holding his press conferences.
They held signs saying things like “My job matters, too.”
“Right now, the oil and gas industry’s paying almost 25 percent of the taxes in the state of Oklahoma,” said Jeff Hume with Continental Resources.
Earlier in the day, a group called Save Our State was lobbying to raise the gross production tax back to 7 percent.
Dressed like passengers on the Titanic, complete with life vests, they delivered letters to House Speaker Charles McCall’s office.
Inman said Republicans offered to raise the gross production tax to 3 percent and that is not acceptable to his caucus.
Negotiations were reportedly still going Thursday evening.