Budget Bill Fails on Oklahoma House Floor

Nov 8, 2017

Updated: November 8, 2017 at 6:01 p.m.

After nearly four hours of floor debate and questions, a budget package that would have filled most of the state’s estimated $215 million budget shortfall and provide raises to teachers and some state employees has failed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

House Bill 1054 would have raised the production tax rate on oil wells from 2 to 4 percent and increased taxes on cigarettes, fuel, and low point beer.

The bill ended in a 71 to 27 vote, several votes shy of the 75 percent approval needed to pass it as a revenue bill. 22 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted against the measure.

The bill could still be reconsidered on a later date.

Original Post:

A budget package that was held up in an Oklahoma House committee last month passed out of that committee Tuesday, by a vote of 19-6.

This comes one day after the Senate passed an identical, amended bill on their floor.

House Bill 1054 would raise the production tax rate on oil wells from two to four percent and increase taxes on cigarettes, fuel and low point beer. The bill would fill most of the state’s estimated $215 million budget shortfall and provide raises to teachers and some state employees.

Representative Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville) argued in favor of the bill.

"There's numerous things we could do, but at this particular time, I think it's the thing we must do for this great state to make sure we calm the waters in our citizens that are very, very concerned about these programs that are getting ready to close December 1."

Three Republicans and three Democrats voted against the bill.  Representative Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa) argued that the bill did not raise the gross production tax on oil and gas enough.

"This is on the backs, almost solely, of middle income and working poor families. $426 million dollars on the backs of the working poor and middle income families, where we're only going to ask $13.5 million from the largest and most wealthy industry in the history of the world. I cannot support that."

Officials estimate the bill will bring in $132.9 million the rest of this fiscal year and $430.1 million next fiscal year. That would still leave an approximately $57 million funding gap that could be made up through additional budget cuts.

There is some uncertainty on whether HB1054 will pass the House floor. A 1992 state question requires that all revenue bills pass with a 75 percent approval. The House committee passed the bill by just 76 percent.