Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Pushes New Special Session Budget Proposal

Feb 12, 2018

Amid special session votes and rallies Monday on the Step Up Oklahoma plan, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs released its own $505.4 million budget proposal.

Dubbing it the "plan that can pass," OCPA's primary goal with the proposal is a $5,000 teacher pay raise.

The plan gets most of its funding from a 5 percent gross production tax on new and existing oil and gas wells, and a 75 cents per pack cigarette tax increase. Those pieces account for $199.5 million and $121.9 million. 

OCPA President Jonathan Small said it's clear lawmakers will have to raise taxes in special session.

"They should increase those taxes in a way that don’t impact the middle income and low income and the most vulnerable, but they should also make legitimate reforms that can reform how money is spent," Small said.

The 5 percent gross production tax would be for 36 months on new wells. They would be taxed at 7 percent after that. Existing wells taxed at 2 percent would be increased to 5 percent.

While OCPA is not proposing a gross production tax on wind power, the plan does affect the industry.

"We recommend a cap on the crony capitalist wind subsidies that are bankrupting the state of Oklahoma, a cap of that credit at $10 million a year and that that would take effect immediately," Small said.

OCPA estimated that will bring in $60 million. The state has already ended three tax incentives for the wind industry.

Another $57 million would come from taking Oklahoma's annual tobacco settlement payment away from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust and giving it to the state's Medicaid budget. That would be done through a ballot measure.

Small said TSET would still be free to spend its existing money as it currently does on various health campaigns.

"Our proposal wouldn’t change any of that. They could still continue their current trajectory wherein they spend less than 30 percent of their funds on tobacco cessation," Small said. "They still would be able to keep all of that. We’re merely saying let’s, going forward, prioritize spending."

OCPA's plan also asks tribes to refuse state tobacco rebates, which the group estimates would be worth $67 million a year.