OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Mary Fallin amended the call of the second special session of the 56th Legislature last week, which has been in recess since Dec. 22.
The governor did not set a date when lawmakers would return to address the shortfall in the current fiscal year budget.
“Discussions are continuing about a revenue and reform plan, which seems to be growing in momentum,” said Fallin. “We’re excited that we have an opportunity to build some grass-roots support among our fellow Oklahomans to solve our budget crisis, to be able to put Oklahoma on a stable path forward, and to provide teachers a much-needed pay raise.”
The governor’s amended call asks lawmakers to consider providing a long-term revenue solution to the state’s budget shortfalls by:
Increasing the tax on cigarettes, and little cigars by $1.50 per pack, and an additional 10 percent on chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes;
Increasing the oil and gas gross production tax by increasing the rate on wells currently at 2 percent to 4 percent, and all future wells will begin at 4 percent for 36 months and move to 7 percent thereafter;
Implementing a renewable generation tax at $1.00 per Mwh;
Increasing the rate on diesel and gasoline by 6 cents per gallon;
Imposing a dollar cap on transferability/cash refundability for coal, wind and railroad tax credits effective the 2018 tax year;
Expanding the definition of covered games in the model tribal gaming compact to include “non-house-banked table games;” and;
Reforming rates, exemptions, deductions and credits on the individual income tax code.
Other items in the governor’s call are:
Creating an accountability office designed to expose waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers’ dollars in state government;
Modifying the structure of state government and increasing accountability by replacing the appointing power of specified boards and commissions with granting the governor direct appointing authority over these specified agency directors. This can be accomplished by statutory change or by referring a constitutional change to a vote of the people when necessary, and;
Addressing a needed $5,000 pay increase for certified education staff, excluding any superintendents.
The items in the governor’s call mirror many of the items recommended by Step Up Oklahoma, a group of Oklahoma business and community leaders.
“I appreciate the efforts of these business and community leaders working together to build statewide, nonpartisan support to help the Legislature address teacher pay raises and fix our budget crisis,” Fallin said. “It is critical to our state’s future to fix the budget’s structural problems and put our state on a predictable, stable foundation for success. I’m optimistic, with the effort and determination shown by Step Up Oklahoma, that lawmakers can pass a realistic solution to the state’s current budget problem.”