A coalition of Oklahoma business and civic leaders is announcing support for a broad swath of tax hikes to support a $5,000 teacher pay raise and other changes like more appointment power for the governor and longer term limits for state legislators.
The group "Step Up Oklahoma " held a press conference Thursday in Oklahoma City. Among its supporters are Devon Energy co-founder Larry Nichols and BancFirst Executive Chairman David Rainbolt.
Its proposals include lowering the supermajority for the Legislature to pass tax increases from 75 percent to 60 percent. It also supports increasing legislative term limits to 16 years, giving the Oklahoma governor direct appointment authority over the largest state agencies and requiring the governor and lieutenant governor to run on one ticket.
The group also supports hiking taxes on cigarettes, motor fuel, energy production and some personal income. Step Up Oklahoma is calling for a 4 percent gross production tax on all oil wells, old and new.
Step Up Oklahoma recognizes there's something in the plan lawmakers on both sides may find hard to swallow.
"It is a compromise by definition, but we’ve got to put the state ahead of our, each of our individual interests in coming to this conclusion," Rainbolt said.
The group says its plan will raise $800 million, with $250 million going toward teacher pay raises.