• Pro Tem releases Senate GOP budget plan

    Office of the President Pro Tempore

    Senator Mike Schulz

    OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz on Monday released the Senate Republicans’ plan to address the $215 million hole in the Fiscal Year 2018 state budget.

    “This plan not only addresses the immediate need of $215 million for critical health care agencies that was struck down in court, but it also provides recurring  revenue streams to help us address the long-term stability of the budget and prevent further cuts to core government services,” said Schulz, R-Altus.

    “Oklahoma Senate Republicans have proven our willingness to address the state’s long-term budget problems by passing a similar revenue package during the regular session. The elements of this plan for special session were fully vetted by the Senate during the regular session, and all received the necessary votes to pass constitutional muster. I’m confident Senate Republicans, if given the chance, again will put Oklahoma’s interests first and will be able to pass this responsible revenue plan that ensures education, public safety, transportation and other core services avoid further cuts.”

    The Senate plan is as follows:

    • $1.50 per-pack increase in the cigarette tax, which generates $128.9 million in Fiscal Year 2018 and leaves $122.4 million for FY’18 appropriation;

     

    • a six-cent increase in the motor fuels tax, which generates $71 million in FY’18 and leaves $67.45 million for FY’18 appropriation; and

     

    • the elimination of the wind manufacturer sales tax, which generates $10.97 million in FY’18 and leaves $9.87 million for FY’18 appropriation.

    Because FY’18 collections are for less than a full fiscal year, the Senate plan also calls for a drawdown of $15.2 million from the Rainy Day Fund to entirely plug the hole in the FY’18 budget.

    The governor’s call for special session included other issues like a teacher pay raise and finding more efficiency in government spending. Schulz said while the immediate need is addressing the FY’18 budget hole, Senate Republicans were open to considering those issues during the special session.

    “Senate Republicans have said all along we must first address the short-term budget issues before acting on a teacher pay raise plan. Once we take care of the budget, Senate Republicans would consider a teacher pay plan that includes a permanent funding source,” Schulz said. “Additionally, Senate Republicans will keep working on making government more efficient and effective. We’ll keep pouring over agency spending and look at options like consolidation to improve the quality and delivery of services. There’s no doubt agencies can be more efficient in spending taxpayer dollars, and Senate Republicans will keep working on behalf of Oklahomans to make sure that happens.”

  • Speaker McCall Announces Solution for Special Session and $215 Million Gap 

    OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker Charles McCall today said House Republicans will consider raising the cigarette tax in special session but will send it to a vote of the people if  House Democrats again refuse to support the measure.

    McCall said the Legislature will likely take up the cigarette tax and use existing cash to address the $215 million budget hole created when the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the cigarette cessation fee the Legislature enacted in May. The cigarette tax, if passed in special session, would generate approximately $122 million for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget. The House also likely would use a combination of $70 million of the $83 million available in Fiscal Year 2017 prior year cash and $23 million from the Rainy Day Fund, which would backfill the $215 million hole and prevent cuts to education, health care and other agencies.

    “The cigarette tax is the only feasible tax option Oklahomans have said they would support. It would help us replace the funds lost when the Court rejected the cigarette fee,” said Speaker McCall, R-Atoka. “Unlike our Democratic colleagues, House Republicans have no intention or desire to tax the life out of Oklahomans just to grow government – especially at a time when our citizens are living on less. We are not going to raise a billion dollars in taxes to fill a $215 million budget hole.”

    McCall said if the cigarette tax fails the Legislature will send it to a vote of the people and use targeted cuts to make up the difference in the budget hole.

    “House Democrats have shown time and again they are not going to help pass the cigarette tax despite it being the most feasible among Oklahomans,” said McCall. “They have not supported the cigarette tax during either of the last two legislative sessions, and we have no reason to believe special session will be any different. If they refuse to support the cigarette tax again, any further cuts to state agencies will be on them. The Court struck down the cigarette fee, so the easiest path to replacing the funds is to pass the cigarette tax.

    “House Republicans will convene in special session, as we are obligated to do. But we have to make decisions that are in the best interests of the citizens who sent us here, not what is in the best interest of special interests or bureaucrats.”

  • BREAKING: Fallin plans to call special session to begin September 25

    eCapitol News

    Author: Shawn Ashley
    Date: 09/06/2017

    (eCap) Gov. Mary Fallin said Wednesday she will call a special session to begin Sept. 25 “to adjust the current fiscal year” budget.

    “I am planning on calling a special session beginning September 25 for legislators to adjust the current fiscal year budget. A formal call for a special session will be issued in the next few days, but I wanted to announce my intention to call a special session for planning purposes,” Fallin said in a statement. “I also want Oklahomans to know we are working diligently to address the fiscal matters of our state.”

    An Aug. 10 Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling struck down a tobacco cessation fee that was scheduled to take effect Aug. 25. It would have raised approximately $215 million for fiscal year 2018, the current fiscal year.

    The bulk of the revenue from that fee would have gone to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Department of Human Services and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Without that revenue, Fallin said the agencies will run out of state appropriated by the middle of the fiscal year.

    Fallin noted Wednesday the $215 million represents just state funds. With the loss of matching federal funds state agencies estimate the total is nearly $500 million.

  • Fallin wants special session to fill health agencies’ funding gap

    by Dale Denwalt  Published: August 16, 2017 1:46 PM CDT

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday said she wants a special session to fill a $215 million shortfall in several agencies’ budgets, but she now has to wait for lawmakers to strike a deal.

    Four agencies lost that expected cash after the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a cigarette fee this month, the Departments of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Human Services, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the commission that enforces alcohol and tobacco laws. Without some kind of re-appropriation, the agencies will have to restructure their budgets.

    “A special session is the best option,” Fallin said. “Failure to meet in special session would mean $215 million would be cut mostly from these three state agencies. These agencies and the people they serve cannot sustain the kind of cuts that will occur if we do not find a solution.”

    Fallin also warned lawmakers that the executive branch can’t make up the money with existing state funds.

    “No money can be spent from any state fund unless the Legislature specifically appropriates it,” said Fallin. “Let’s be clear. The director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services does not have the authority to transfer monies to the affected agencies from different sources without legislation directing him to do so.”

    Without legislative intervention, the state’s mental health agency said it would run out of state appropriations in November. OHCA, which administers Medicaid, said it would run out of state funds in January and DHS said it would out of state funds in May.

  • Cigarette ‘fee’ ruled unconstitutional by Oklahoma Supreme Court

    Breaking news – – in an unanimous decision, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court has ruled the legislature passed Cigarette Fee to be unconstitutional. This ruling is in response oral arguments before the court on Tuesday.  At this point, only the Cigarette Fee has been ruled upon.  Challenges to 3 other revenue raising measures have not yet been decided.  No decision has been made yet as to whether there will be Special Session – – we will keep you apprised.

     

    Thanks…………..Clayton!

     

     

    Cigarette ‘fee’ ruled unconstitutional by Oklahoma Supreme Court

    Tulsa World

     

    The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled a $1.50-a-pack fee on cigarettes passed this session is actually a tax and, due to the circumstances under which it was passed by the Legislature, unconstitutional.

    The measure was expected to generate $257 million in revenue and had been scheduled to take effect Aug. 24.

    The state’s high court heard oral arguments this week on three challenges to late revenue bills passed by the Legislature last session.

    Tobacco companies filed suit after lawmakers, facing a $878 million budget hole, passed Senate Bill 845, which put a smoking cessation fee on cigarettes. That came after unsuccessful efforts to pass it as a tax.

    An opinion filed by the court Thursday states that the timing of the measure made it unconstitutional.

    “None of this is to say that the Legislature cannot choose this particular sort of regulatory tool — a ‘sin tax’ — to further its goal of reducing smoking,” the opinion reads.

    “But if the Legislature wishes to deploy this tool, rather than the plethora of other regulatory tools available to it for advancing its goal, it must comply with Article V, Section 33 because the people have insisted that legislative measures ‘intended to raise revenue’ — i.e., those whose primary effect is to reach into the people’s pockets to take more money to fund state government — be significantly more difficult to enact than other types of legislation.”

    Tax increases must garner three-fourths support in both chambers of the Legislature or go to a vote of the people based on State Question 640, passed in 1992. Revenue-raising measures must originate in the House and can’t be passed in the last five days of session.

     

    Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down cigarette “fee”

    by Dale Denwalt  Published: August 10, 2017

     

     

    The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that a $1.50 cigarette fee scheduled to go into effect this month is an unconstitutional tax.

    In an opinion that drew support from every justice, the Court noted that the Legislature introduced four bills that would have created a similar cigarette “tax,” but abandoned them because of lack of support. Late in session, lawmakers finally adopted a “smoking cessation fee.”

    Justice Patrick Wyrick, writing for the Court, said the Legislature had to find more than $200 million in the last week of session to meet obligations laid out in its annual budget bill. Because of that, and several other reasons laid out in the opinion, much of the bill was struck down as unconstitutional.

    The government has one week to ask for a rehearing.

    Lawmakers have said that if the court strikes down the fee, because so much money is earmarked for health programs, it’s likely the Legislature will have to return to special session this year.

  • High court to rule on revenue-raising bills

    High court to rule on revenue-raising bills

    BY BARBARA HOBEROCK
    Tulsa World barbara.hoberock@tulsaworld.com

    In a crowded courtroom on Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a series of legal challenges to measures the Legislature passed last session to fund state government.

    The outcome, one way or another, could be monumental.

    According to several of the plaintiffs, if some of measures are allowed to stand, a 1992 state question that put restrictions on tax increases will be gutted.

    State Question 640 requires tax increases to receive three-fourths support in both chambers of the Legislature or go to a vote of the people. State law says revenueraising measures can’t be enacted in the last five days of session and they must start in the House.

    If the court deems one or more of the measures invalid, lawmakers could be called into a special session to attempt to fix a gaping budget hole.

    In June, tobacco companies and others filed suit against Senate Bill 845, which puts a $1.50 “fee” on a pack of cigarettes effective Aug. 24. The action came after failed attempts to pass it as a tax increase.

    The measure originated in the Senate, did not receive three-fourths support and was passed in the last five days of the session.

    It is expected to generate $257 million to help close a budget hole of $878 million. Lawmakers put $215 million of that revenue into the fiscal year 2018 budget, which began July 1.

    Also in June, auto dealers filed suit challenging House Bill 2433. The measure removes the sales-tax exemption on vehicles, thus imposing a 1.25 percent sales tax on top of the existing 3.25 percent excise tax.

    The law is expected to generate slightly more than $123 million for the fiscal year 2018 budget. It did not receive a super majority and secured final approval on May 26, the last day of the session.

    Also in June, Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson, a Tulsa attorney, filed a legal challenge against three bills, including the new sales tax on cars.

    He also challenged House Bill 1449, which puts a $100 fee on electric-drive motor vehicle registration and a $30 fee on hybrid-drive motor vehicle registrations. The law is expected to generate slightly more than $1 million.

    Richardson alleges the measure was passed in the last five days of session and did not secure a super majority required for a tax increase.

    He is also challenging House Bill 2348, which uncouples Oklahoma’s annual tax deduction from the federal deduction level. It is expected to raise $4.4 million. He alleges it is a tax increase that did not receive a super majority.

    “This is going to be a really critical decision, and there are a lot of Oklahomans’ eyes on what the potential outcome of this decision could mean for our state and state funding,” said Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa. ”Do we want to fund basic government services with one-time, what I think are unconstitutional fees, or do we want to address this in a responsible, strategic way?”

    She said people are angry and believe lawmakers are not doing their jobs.

    “We’re all kind of on pins and needles waiting to see if we’re going to be in special session,” Blancett said.

    David Blatt, executive director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, says lawmakers could be left scrambling to find other ways to fund the government.

    “Obviously, there are several bills being challenged, and they have widely different fiscal impacts,” Blatt said. “I think that if the court strikes down either the tobacco measure or the measure adding a sales tax to motor vehicles, it would create a large enough budget shortfall the Legislature should immediately come back into special session to find more revenue.”

    Jason Sutton, a spokesman for House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said a majority of lawmakers, as evidenced by their votes, believe the measures adhere to the law.

    Due to widespread interest, the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s website, oscn.net, will provide a streaming link for watching the oral arguments.

  • Criminal case against Oklahoma schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, four others dropped

    Criminal case against Oklahoma schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, four others dropped

     

    by Nolan Clay, Tim Willert, & Kyle Schwab

    Published: August 1, 2017 5:04 PM CDT

     

     

    State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister declared Tuesday “a joyful day” after a criminal case against her and four other defendants was dismissed.

     

    “I knew I was innocent and that I had conducted myself appropriately, and I am happy that this day has come,” she said at a news conference where she smiled throughout.

     

    Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater on Tuesday dropped the felony case against all the defendants “pending further investigation.”

     

    Hofmeister was accused in the criminal case of wrongdoing in her 2014 campaign. She and the other defendants were charged last November.

     

    The dismissal comes just weeks before a preliminary hearing was set to begin to determine whether prosecutors had enough evidence for trial.

     

    “Over the past couple of months, we’ve received additional information regarding one or more of the defendants that we need to follow up before we take it to preliminary hearing,” Prater told The Oklahoman.

     

    Asked specifically if the case could be refiled, he said, “Yes.”

     

    Hofmeister’s attorney, Gary Wood, told reporters, “I’m not sure what investigation would still be ongoing. … I mean this is a case that’s been around out there for three years, and you would think that the investigation would be complete prior to the filing of charges.”

     

    Hofmeister, a Tulsa Republican, already had started raising money for a 2018 campaign when she was charged last year. She has raised very little since — only $18,210 through June 30, according to her latest campaign report.

     

    She acknowledged Tuesday she still is seeking re-election.

     

    “Oh, absolutely,” she said. “We will continue to fight for what kids need and deserve — and that is a strong public education system. Our work is not finished and I will not give up.”

     

    She thanked Oklahomans who stood beside her.

     

    “This is a joyful day for me and my family and a day for which we have long anticipated,” she said to begin her news conference at the state Education Department. “For nine months, I have had to conduct my life in the shadow of unjust and untrue accusations.

     

    “But I knew the truth,” she said. “I knew I was innocent. I knew that I could not and I would not focus on anything but kids, and I would not be distracted from the work I was elected to do. I am grateful for the dismissal of all charges against me. I am thankful for the love of my family — my husband, my children, my parents and my sisters.”

     

    Hofmeister had faced four felony counts.

     

    She was accused in two of the felony counts with accepting illegal donations to her 2014 campaign. She was accused in the other two felony counts with conspiring to break campaign fundraising laws.

     

    Prosecutors alleged in the case that she illegally colluded with a dark money group to win election in 2014.

     

    Prosecutors alleged Hofmeister, 52, used the group, Oklahomans for Public School Excellence, to secretly accept illegal excessive donations and illegal corporate donations.

     

    Charged with her in the conspiracy counts were Fount Holland, 54, her chief campaign consultant, and Stephanie Dawn Milligan, 37, the political consultant for Oklahomans for Public School Excellence.

     

    Also charged in the conspiracy counts were two former leaders of state education organizations — Lela Odom, 69, who in 2014 was the executive director of the Oklahoma Education Association, and Steven Crawford, 67, who was the executive director of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration. Prosecutors allege they helped create and fund the dark money group.

     

    The group raised $300,000 for an ad critical of Janet Barresi, the incumbent superintendent.

     

    Hofmeister beat Barresi, the Republican incumbent, in the June 2014 primary election and defeated the Democratic candidate, rural educator John Cox, in the November 2014 general election.

     

    Hofmeister in February created a legal-defense fund to help with her legal expenses. Through June 30, the fund has raised $75,600.

     

    Her 2014 strategist, Holland, was known as one of the most influential political consultants in the state before being charged.

     

    His attorney, Ed Blau, said Tuesday that Holland looks forward to doing again what he loves to do.

     

    “He has been inactive,” Blau said. “He hasn’t worked. … When you’ve been charged with a felony, people don’t really want to hitch their wagon to you.”

  • Oklahoma court rules automobile sales tax will stand, for now

     

    by Dale Denwalt  Published: June 30, 2017 2:56 PM CDT

     

    The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Friday ruled that a new automobile sales tax will go into effect July 1 as planned.

     

    Gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson sued to block the tax hike and two other measures adopted by lawmakers this year. He also asked the court to temporarily put the laws on hold until his case can be decided.

     

    Starting Saturday, automobile buyers will have to pay an extra 1.25-percent sales tax.

     

    In a 7-1 decision presented without explanation, the court rejected his motion for a stay. Justice James Edmondson dissented and Justice Tom Colbert recused himself from the case.

     

    Oklahoma exempts the purchase of vehicles from sales tax, but a law passed this year reset the rate at 1.25 percent. Car buyers will pay the sales tax along with the usual 3.25 percent excise tax.

     

    The new revenue source is expected to bring in more than $123 million over the next 12 months.

     

    Richardson responded to the decision, saying the decision will depress car sales and “stall our fragile economy.”

     

    “Hundreds if not thousands of Oklahomans are now going to have to make the difficult decision of whether to pay a higher tax at their local, Oklahoma car dealer or wait until after the court hearing in August,” he said. “Until then, Oklahoma suffers.”

     

    In his lawsuit, Richardson asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to invalidate bills that raise the tax on vehicle purchases, create a fee for driving an electric car and freeze the standard income tax deduction.

     

    He argues that the bills are unconstitutional tax increases that weren’t properly adopted. The high court will hear arguments on Aug. 8 for Richardson’s lawsuit and two others that have been filed to challenge revenue measures.

     

    The tobacco industry sued to block a new $1.50 cigarette fee charged to wholesalers and, in a separate lawsuit, automobile dealers asked the court to overturn the motor vehicle sales tax. In all, the measures being challenged are expected to generate $343 million in state revenue, mostly for health care programs.

     

    Richardson is campaigning to be the 2018 Republican nominee for governor.

  • Many Oklahoma state tax, fee increases to start July 1

     

    BY RANDY ELLIS 

    Oklahomans thinking about buying a car or truck in the next few months might want to do it before July 1.

    That’s when a new 1.25 percent sales tax on motor vehicles is scheduled to take effect.

    Smokers concerned about a new $1.50 per pack fee on cigarette purchases have a little longer to consider their next move.

    The cigarette fee increase isn’t scheduled to kick in until Aug. 25.

    The state Legislature passed at least 14 bills last session that will touch at least some Oklahomans in the pocketbook.

    Ten of them are scheduled to take effect on July 1, while the effective dates for the others range from Aug. 25 to Jan. 1. Two are to start on Nov. 1.

    Of course, Oklahoma courts could still have something to say about the matter. Tobacco interests have already filed a lawsuit with the Oklahoma Supreme Court asking it to declare the $1.50 per pack cigarette fee unconstitutional. Other tax and fee increases also could spark court challenges.

    Some of the scheduled tax and fee increases leave Oklahomans with financial decisions to make.

    For the buyer of a $30,000 new car, the added sales tax would tack $375 onto the purchase price beginning July 1.

    Used car buyers won’t escape the charge. A $10,000 used car will cost $125 more.

    Adult smokers

    Oklahoma’s 635,000 adult smokers also have a lot to think about as the Aug. 25 date for the new $1.50 per pack fee approaches.

    The first instinct of smokers may be to stock up in advance to save money, but cessation advocates say much bigger savings can be had by quitting.

    A pack of cigarettes costs an average of $5.837 in Oklahoma, said Julie Bisbee, director of public information and outreach for the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.

    For a pack-a-day smoker, the direct cost currently is about $2,130 a year. After the fee increase, that cost would go up to $2,678 a year.

    And that’s just the direct purchase costs. The health care costs are much higher, she said. There are $1.62 billion in annual health care costs directly attributable to smoking in Oklahoma, and an additional $2.1 billion in productivity losses from smoking, she said.

    Oklahomans pay an average of $899 per household — regardless of whether household members smoke or not — to cover state and federal government expenditures tied to smoking, she said.

    For Oklahoma smokers who might want to quit, Bisbee offered some inspiration.

    While it is true that 22.2 percent of Oklahoma’s adult population smoke, the number of former smokers in this state exceeds the number of smokers, she said. Statistics show 24.7 percent of the state’s population (707,941) are former smokers, she said.

    The state has a tobacco helpline (1-800-QUITNOW) for smokers seeking help in quitting.

    Another notable fee increase will impact Oklahomans who attend professional sporting events.

    Beginning July 1, a $1 fee will be tacked on to the price of tickets for professional sporting events costing less than $50. A $2 fee will be added for tickets to such events costing $50 or more. Professional events that will require the fee include ice hockey, baseball, basketball, football, arena football and soccer.

    Income tax change

    Oklahoma taxpayers won’t feel the impact immediately, but another change will impact the amount of income tax many Oklahomans will pay in future years.

    On Jan. 1, 2018, Oklahoma will uncouple its standard income tax deduction from the federal income tax deduction and freeze the amount at 2017 tax year levels. While the federal standard deduction will fluctuate with inflation, the state deduction no longer will.

    Some other Legislative measures will impact specific industries.

    The total amount of film rebates available in any one fiscal year will be cut from $5 million to $4 million beginning July 1.

    And the Legislature will end zero emissions tax credits for wind energy projects put in operation after July 1.

    The oil and gas industry also will pay more taxes on production from some wells.

    Beginning July 1, the gross production tax rate will rise from 1 percent to 4 percent on horizontal wells drilled before July 2015. The rate lasts 48 months before going up to 7 percent. Changes also were made in a gross production tax rebate program.

  • House fails revenue-raising measure immediately after it passes House and Senate JCAB

    eCapitol News

    Author: Cynthia Santos
    Date: 05/16/2017

    (eCap) The House failed a revenue-raising measure Tuesday night that would have increased both cigarette and gas taxes and moved the gross production tax rate from 2 percent to 7 percent after 18 months, rather than 36 months.

    HB2414, by Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang and Sen. Kimberly David, R-Porter, adds a $1.50 per pack tax to cigarettes. The bill creates the Health Care Authority Enhancement Fund, the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Enhancement Fund, the Human Services Enhancement Fund, Oklahoma State University Medical Authority Enhancement Fund and the Health Department Enhancement Fund and apportions the first $185 million among the funds for FY2018. It apportions the full amount to the Health Care Enhancement Fund for subsequent fiscal years. The bill also imposes a tax of six cents per gallon on all gasoline used or consumed in this state and diesel fuel used or consumed in this state. The measure also reduces the time in which new wells are allowed an introductory 2 percent gross production tax from 36 months to 18 months.

    Language was made available to members in a meeting Tuesday afternoon of the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget and passed out of committee with an 18 to 9 vote. A motion to suspend joint rules was adopted on the House in order to hear the bill on the floor immediately after it passed out of both the Senate and House JCAB.

    The bill would “raise revenue for the budget crisis we’re in,” according to Osborn.

    Democrats were quick to point out the gross production tax portion of the bill would not raise any money for the 2018 fiscal year budget.

    Osborn noted that the gross production tax portion would begin to generate money in FY2019, generating a total of $33.6 million in FY2020. The projected revenue to be generated from the cigarette tax in FY2018 is $215 million and $171 for the fuel tax.

    Before taking up the bill, Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, vowed his caucus would vote in block against the measure, effectively setting it up for sure failure.

    Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, asked Osborn about increasing the gross production tax rate immediately, which has been part of the Democrat’s Restore Oklahoma plan for over two months. Democrats have held their ground on voting against certain measures unless a gross production tax rate increase was put on the table.

    Osborn said she would not comment on the GPT increase, as it is not in the bill and questions were to be specifically kept to the bill.

    Goodwin continued, asking about “helping all of Oklahoma” by increasing GPT rates generating about $500 million if raised from 5 to 7 percent. Osborn said those numbers are incorrect and inflated.

    Republicans also chimed in, with Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, saying the bill is “trying to close that (budget) gap and help Oklahomans.”

    Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, asked what the effect would be should the bill not pass. Osborn said transportation, education funding and Department of Corrections funding would all be affected should the new revenue not be generated.

    “We’re still short a half a billion in revenue,” said Walke. “Where is the next half billion going to come from in the next 48 hours.”

    Osborn said that many more revenue bills will be coming down the pipeline, including the possibility of raiding agency revolving funds and using Rainy Day Fund money.

    “Do you think that this is the proper way, the best way we can go about funding state government today,” asked Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa.

    “All I know is it’s one way to make sure we don’t cut every agency in the state 25 percent,” replied Osborn.

    While Democrats continued to voice opposition, a freshman Republican agreed that the measure is not an easy vote for him.

    “I have compromised to point of potentially harming my next election…because I care about the State of Oklahoma,” said Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee.

    Osborn emphasized the importance of compromise, saying there will always be “things you can live with and things you can’t.”

    Inman noted, though, that there could have been no compromise because members of his caucus were not invited into budget negotiations

    I don’t believe you were at the table…I hope that after today you are.

    In debate against the bill, Rep. Matt Meredith, D-Tahlequah, said he feels frustrated with the continued meetings behind closed doors.

    “There continue to only be one or two people who decide what bills get heard,” he said.

    A total of nine members debated against the bill and four in favor.

    Rep. Shane Stone, D-Oklahoma City, said the measure is the most “disgusting and immoral” bills he’s seen in his three years at the Capitol. Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, also debated against the measure, saying the state must first “cut out the fat” from state agencies.

    “Cut the waste and protect the most vulnerable,” he said.

    “I’m glad to hear that we’re now concerned about (the most vulnerable,)” said Rep Emily Virgin, D-Norman, in debate. The bill, though, asks those people do disproportionately fund certain services.

    Many members debating against the bill, including Inman, noted that the bill generated nearly $1 billion of revenue in three years in taxes on middle-class families and only $30 million form oil and gas companies.

    Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa, said the bill was the largest tax increase on middle class families in state history. The Democrats, he said, believe the bill to be unjust. He also reiterated that the vote would be a bipartisan vote against the measure.

    Others called out the Democrats. Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Broken Arrow, alluded to a week in which Democrats asked the same questions regarding recurring revenue on the House floor over 90 times, but refused to vote for bills containing recurring revenue.

    “Let your hypocrisy shine bright,” he said.

    Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, also called out the Democrats for proposing to vote down a bill that includes two proposals in their budget plan.

    “Do your own plan, it’s not hard,” he said. “Real people are going to be impacted by our inability to do things…because we’re going to play politics.”

    Inman reiterated his point in debate against the measure, saying those proposals were included as a compromise not a take it or leave it deal.

    “If you’re using the word compromise, I don’t think it means what you think it means,” he said.

    In closing debate, Osborn said she has “never been more disgusted” with the happenings in the building.

    “They sent us here to fix the problems. Let’s start to fix them,” she said.

    The bill received 51 aye votes and 46 nay votes, which is short of the 76 votes or three-quarters of the House necessary for legislative approval of the measure, but it is more than the 50 percent of the votes needed to place it on the ballot as a referendum.