Budget deal in works as walkout looms

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OKLAHOMA CITY — House lawmakers have a budget deal in the works with an April walkout by state employees and teachers just days away.

Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, told News 4 the conversation has taken place between House Democrats and Republicans along with the Senate.

According to Dunnington, the deal is similar to the 'A+' plan which was presented in November and the 'Step Up' plan in February. Both failed in the House, falling short of the 76 votes needed for revenue bills.

“This time, it would be a 5 percent gross production tax (GPT) and it would be all existing wells as well as new wells moving forward,” Dunnington said.

According to him, the deal also includes:

  • Motor fuel tax: 3 cents on unleaded, 6 cents on diesel
  • $1 Tobacco tax, rather than $1.50 as previously proposed
  • $5 Hotel/motel tax on any room booked in Oklahoma
  • Cap on itemized deductions for high earners

“It would provide $6,000 teacher pay raises. I think $51 million for support staff pay raises and $61 million for state employee pay raises,” he said. “The reality is, next Monday, there will be about 20,000 people here that are frustrated and upset that, for 10 years, we’ve been giving them false promises.”

Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said the Senate is still awaiting language and details on the plan itself. He said, however, they are open to discussing GPT.

“Obviously, that’s been a topic of conversation for quite some time," Treat said. "We led the charge on increasing the GPT to solve this problem back in October on this back, so we’re open to talking about GPT but we have not ever had a vote on that."

Treat said an extra $6,000 for teachers would equate to about a 15 percent pay increase. Two weeks ago, the Senate was two votes short of an adjusted revenue bill that would have funded a 12.7 percent pay increase for teachers.

According to Dunnington, the plan could possibly be heard Monday but under the Second Special Session. If passed, the earliest it could be taken up by the Senate would be Wednesday.

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