We are anxiously awaiting to see if the tortoise is going to catch up with the hare!
It is a hurry up and wait game. Usually during the last two weeks of session starting on Monday we go from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. So far we have come in Monday and Wednesday at 1:30 and not heard very many bills.
On Tuesday we went in normal at 9:30 time, we heard eight bills and adjourned at 11:15 a.m. We went back in at 1:30 p.m. and recessed until 4:00 p.m.
We finally heard HB 2414 by Osborn (R-Chickasha) which is the all-encompassing revenue bill.
This bill included a $1.50 cigarette tax, six cents a gallon gasoline tax, a wind energy tax and, finally a gross production tax that lowered from 36 months down to 18 months that a new oil or gas well that companies enjoy a 2% tax. It will not bring any money into our state for 18 months from when a well starts producing.
If this bill had passed it would have brought in $340 million off of taxes from working Oklahomans and zero from oil and gas. This bill failed to get 76 votes needed for passage. The final vote was 51-46.
Folks, I have enjoyed keeping you informed about what is happening at the capitol. As you know I do not sugar coat my comments, and I am all about what’s best for the working class, school children, veterans and seniors.
I do understand the importance of incentives to create jobs and I can see when we overdo these incentives.
Regardless of the headlines, I want you to know that this budget struggle is not a republican vs. democrat, or an urban vs. rural issue, but it is a class warfare issue. At issue is whether corporations pay their fair share or whether working Oklahomans pay for the budget hole.
Personally I don’t feel that our budget is in such a hole because an Oklahoma working mom is not paying enough tax on gasoline or my constituents are not paying enough for cigarettes. But, rather our budget hole is due to the tax cuts to the wealthy ($1.2 billion) and corporate giveaways.
The Legislature has tried to rectify our budget by cutting all agencies by at least 25%. Some, like colleges, have been cut almost 40% (That’s why tuition has sky rocketed)!
Sadly the most powerful person at the capitol is not the Governor, the Speaker or the Senate Pro Tem, but rather Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Oil.
Here are some of the ideas that have been presented by the majority caucus of both House and Senate:
HB2364 – If you die and your car passes to your child or spouse, they would have to pay a new excise tax on it, even though you already paid an excise tax when you first bought the car. Same applies if you give your car to a family member or just want to add another family name to the title. This is expected to generate around $16 million.
HB2404 – Currently the State itself and all of its agencies and subdivisions are exempt from paying sales tax. HB 2404 eliminates that exemption. So under this bill, when EOSC, the Department of Human Services, the District Judge, or McAlester Public Schools buys a case of paper or cleaning supplies, they will have to pay sales tax on it. Obviously, you see we will generate more tax dollars that way. Then the state will have more money to allocate to those entities, so they can afford to pay this new tax.
Well, actually not quite; you see, this would only generate the 4.5% sales tax that goes to the state, but they will also have to pay all the city and county taxes, on top of the State portion of the tax. So all we are really doing is churning money, to the detriment of the State and its subdivisions, but to the benefit of cities and counties.
However, a non-appropriated agency (an agency that raises 100% of its own funding), such as the Wildlife Department, would get the double whammy, no money from the State and have to pay all of the sales tax. This will churn about $106 million each year, but leadership will pat itself on the back for raising so much new tax money.
How about this one, SB862? Since we can’t touch the wealthiest Oklahomans because Leadership is so beholding to them, we will take it out on working mothers that are struggling to survive. This bill eliminates (for three years) the sales tax “holiday” that many families use right before school starts to buy their kids school clothes – to the tune of $7.4 million.
My sympathies to all the clothing stores in our area and all the nearby Texas stores send their sincere appreciation to the Oklahoma Legislature.
Thanks to folks for stopping by the office this week, Danny and Lee Baldwin and Brian Weaver.
Hebrews 3:7 For every house has a builder but the One who has built everything is God.