Step Up Oklahoma revenue plan takes a step forward
By William W. Savage III, NonDoc.com, February 8, 2018
The Step Up Oklahoma revenue plan took a step forward just before noon today. Multiple bills cleared the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget, including an 83-page bill that could create $581 million for Fiscal Year 2019 if it passes the full House and the Senate next week.
That, however, will be no easy task, as five of the seven Democrats on the House committee voted against the major tax proposal, which mirrors the major revenue bill that fell five votes short in November, with two primary differences.
First, a new $1-per-megawatt-hour production tax on wind energy has frustrated some members. Second, taking all existing oil and gas wells currently taxed at the 2 percent incentive rate to 4 percent has been included as a concession to Democrats, many of whom have requested the GPT rate go to 5 percent, if not 7 percent. HB 1033XX passed 21-5, with Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-OKC) and Rep. Ben Loring (D-Miami) as the only Democrats voting in favor. No Republicans voted against, with tax critics Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-OKC) and Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) absent. (Bennett arrived to the meeting for other bills.)
As a revenue bill, HB 1033XX would need to receive 76 votes in the House, which could hear it as soon as Monday. Republicans have 73 members in the House, and Democrats have 28. In November, 23 Democrats voted for what was called the “A+” plan, as did 58 Republicans. Between then and now, state business leaders formed Step Up Oklahoma, endorsing the tax increases many of them opposed in November so long as they were paired with the new wind tax and a series of government reforms.