Oklahoma House Committee Advances Temporary Tax Increase on Oil & Gas Industry In Late-Night Session

May 23, 2017

In a late-night committee meeting on Monday, lawmakers passed a measure that raises the gross production tax rate from one percent to four percent, but only on a small, select group of oil wells.

Rep. Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston), who is carrying House Bill 2429, says it will bring about $95 million in to the state. The bill would only affect about 5,790 wells drilled between July 2011 and July 2015.

But Rep. Scott Inman (D-Del City) says that as this group of wells dries up, so will the money—making it a short-term solution for the state's budget crisis.

"Are you not creating a budget cliff next year or within a year and a half in which this $95 million goes away and we’re right back here having to deal with this issue of trying to raise the gross production tax to seven percent?"

During the meeting, which was postponed four times over eight hours before starting at 11 p.m., protesters held up seven fingers—indicating they want lawmakers to raise the gross production tax to seven percent on all wells in order to fund the state budget.

Democratic lawmakers also raised concerns during the question period about the constitutionality of the bill, arguing that it's a revenue-raising measure, which is not allowed in the last week of the legislative session without a special session.

Hours before the meeting began, roughly two dozen protestors were removed from the fourth floor hallway by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. (WARNING: the videos below contains some bad language.)

Legislators have until 5 p.m. Friday to pass a balanced budget and account for a $878 million loss is general revenue.