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Not So Special Session Featured

Written by  Thursday, 26 October 2017 13:56
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CAPITOL GREETINGS
Representative Brian Renegar, DVM

 

Special session started over 45 days ago; we have actually met five days at a cost to taxpayers of $31,000/day. During that time we have only voted on one bill; the other four days we had roll call, prayer, flag salute, and then adjournment. What a way to run State government.

 

The Speaker said yesterday that if there is not a revenue package passed, there is enough money in the rainy day fund and our surplus fund to avoid cuts to agencies. Their revenue plan consists of $1.50 per pack tax on cigarettes, small cigars and smokeless tobacco; 6 cents per gallon increase on gas and diesel and a 13.5% increase on low point beer – all taxes on predominantly middle and working class Oklahomans. BUT they have horrible fuzzy math, because when they first rolled out the $1.50 tax on cigarettes, they calculated it would bring in $157 Million, then they changed it to $187 million, then when they changed it to a fee, it was calculated it would bring in $215 million. Yesterday’s revenue bill that died on the House floor was said to be able to raise $245 million on cigarette tax.

 

Along with all the Democrats there were 17 Republican House members that voted against the failed revenue bill. Even if we had passed those new taxes yesterday that would only fill the immediate hole in our budget, and in February we would start out with another $400 to 500 million deficit, and the agencies would be back in the same boat we are in now! That would be like putting a band aid on a heart attack.

 

Then to add to this “political theatre” our leadership created a bill to give a $3,000 pay raise to teachers, not to all teachers and not to all schools. The pay raise mandates $3,000 and would be disbursed through the State formula; the problem is, there are 36 school districts in the State that do not receive formula money but they would still be mandated to give the raise. To further complicate matters the district would have to come up with FICA and other employer contribution payments. These schools would have to decrease teachers to come up with these contributions which would result in increasing class size again.

 

And to placate State employees they added a $1,000/year pay raise which, after taxes, would be about $67/month pay raise, or one tank of gas. Talk about a slap in the face to our State employees.

 

House Democrats want a long term solution and we feel that if our people have to pay at the pump, oil companies should have to pay at the well head. When I was elected in 2006 the GPT (Gross Production Tax) was 7%. With 5,105 million barrels produced, this gave our State $1 billion 168 million dollars. In 2016 horizontal wells were taxes at 1% GPT and deep wells at 4%. Production was 13,147 million barrels but we only received $355 million 906 thousand dollars ($355,906,000)– but oil stock did well.

 

We realize that the oil companies donate heavily to our leadership’s campaigns but we couldn’t understand why the Speaker would keep protecting the oil companies. We recently discovered his chief of staff’s salary is paid in part by guess who — oil and gas interests. As Paul Harvey would say, now you know the rest of the story.

 

Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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