TULSA - No one’s counting their chickens just yet, but there’s hope among some Oklahoma lawmakers that a new budget proposal might be able to overcome the (thus far) insurmountable barrier of a 75-percent supermajority.
There’s no handy nickname yet for the plan, which includes modifications to many of the elements of the “Step Up Oklahoma” proposal which went down to defeat last week in the House.
But some lawmakers are cautiously optimistic that this time, they’ve got a plan that can actually pass.
The question now becomes: Will the GOP House leadership bring it to the floor for a vote?
Rep. Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa) tells KRMG that longtime State Auditor Gary Jones was a key architect of the new proposal.
Jones, a candidate for Governor, also has GOP street cred, as he’s the longest-serving state party chairman in Oklahoma history.
The plan has bipartisan support; indeed, Proctor said Friday, he believes all 28 Democrats in the House will vote for it.
“Democrats are ready to deliver every member of our caucus for it,” he told KRMG. “Republicans would need to bring 48 of their 72 members.”
And while that’s not a slam dunk by any means, it’s an obtainable goal in the eyes of many lawmakers.
The main bullet points:
- An increase to 5% for the first 36 months in the gross production tax on oil and natural gas wells ($200 million)
- A 75-cent per pack tax on cigarettes ($130 million)
- A 6-cent increase per gallon on diesel, 3 cents per gallon on gasoline ($113 million)
- A cap on itemized deductions ($107 million)
- A hotel/motel tax ($50 million)
- Ball and Dice gaming reform ($22 million)
Proctor said the plan would pay for a $5,000 annual pay raise for teachers, plus raises for other state employees who haven’t seen raises in a decade or more.
“The way we see it, it’s a more fair. It spreads out the burden of the taxes not just on the working poor and middle income families, but across all economic spectrums. We believe it’s more fair, and equitable, and just,” Proctor said.
“From what I’m hearing from friends on the other side of the aisle, I think if we put this plan on the board, it passes,” he added. “Now the question is gonna be: Are we going to be allowed to vote on it or not?”