Democrats vow to keep fighting governor, GOP’s budget plan

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Before Gov. Mary Fallin could even finish her press conference, state Democrats made it clear the budget battle is far from over, even as Republicans stood unified behind a plan.

Rep. Regina Goodwin (D-Tulsa) stood up during a reporter question and answer session, disgusted by what the governor characterized as a compromise.

"For you to say there’s agreement, I don’t know who the agreement’s with," she said. "That’s why we’re here in the Blue Room hearing what the plan is."

Tuesday, the governor emerged with leadership from both chambers to roll out what she praised as a cross-chamber compromise.

"Now is the time for all of us to come together, both the House, the Senate, Republicans and Democrats to bring the votes to the table," Fallin said. "No more game playing. No more 'I’ll do this, if you do that.'"

The three-pronged plan will also borrow from the state's rainy day fund, while also:

"Everybody has to come together and do what they can do to reach a final deal, and I think that’s what the people of Oklahoma expect of us," Fallin said. "We’re going to provide solutions to the problems, we’re going to get our work done, we’re not going to get 100 percent and we can’t keep moving the ball around."

Democrats wasted no time chastising the Republican caucus for a deal they said they had no part in.

"I’ve never heard the word ‘compromise’ used so incorrectly," said Minority Leader Scott Inman. "The House Democrats have not been included in this process. What you saw today was $400 million in taxes on the backs of middle class families and an oil and gas gimmick that brings in $0 from the oil and gas industry. None of those ideas, zero of those ideas were in our Restoring Oklahoma plan."

Instead, Democrats are vowing to dig in, already saying they will oppose the budget plan which requires some of their votes to pass.

By law, revenue-raising measures must pass with a three-fourths majority in both chambers.

Inman has insisted for weeks Republicans raise what's known as the Gross Production Tax on new oil and gas wells. Currently, the rate is one of the lowest in the country.

Without the provision, Inman told reporters the lower- and middle-class citizens bear an unfair burden.

"I think we’re absolutely headed to a special session, and that’s because of gimmicks like today," Inman said. "If they wanted to avoid a special session, they would have brought me into the negotiation room on behalf of my caucus, and we would have worked out a deal on gross production taxes that shared the burden and asked the oil and gas industry to pay more than what they paid this year to balance this budget."

House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) didn't mince words rebutting questions about a special session.

"If this vote fails in the House tomorrow, it’s not going to be because of Republicans," he said. "The time has come to quit talking, and it’s now time to act."

The Speaker warned Democrats, if they don't support the current plan, there are other, more controversial revenue-raising measures that could be brought up.

House leadership expects the plan to be put to a vote as early as Wednesday.

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