Note to Editors: The SOS Coalition released the following statement in response to an earlier held press conference calling on the Legislature to accept a revenue package to plug the FY18 budget shortfall that is short by more than $600 million.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Today, the Save Our State (SOS) coalition, a group of more than 21 statewide organizations ranging from teachers, parents, public employees, public and mental health advocates, and communities of faith, released the following statement:
“The suggestion that pairing a three percent gross production tax rate for new wells with a cigarette tax increase and fuel tax increase is the compromise needed to solve Oklahoma’s budget emergency does not hold up.
“This collection of revenue increases would raise $344 million — less than half of what Oklahoma needs just to avoid additional cuts this year, much less to meet long-neglected needs like a raise for teachers and state workers.
“This proposal is not a significant compromise on behalf of those in the oil and gas industry who are fighting against paying a reasonable gross production tax rate. Out of the $344 million these taxes would raise in FY 2018, 99 percent would come from cigarette and fuel taxes while just one percent would come from the gross production tax — placing the burden once again on the backs of working Oklahoma families.
“The fact remains Oklahoma has the oil, the infrastructure, the skilled workforce, and friendly regulations to be a highly competitive place to drill even with a seven percent gross production tax.
“Any sacrifice by the oil industry to pay a fair tax rate is dwarfed by the losses that would follow more cuts to schools, road maintenance, public safety, and other key services for Oklahoma communities. It’s time for lawmakers to put Oklahomans first, end the generous giveaways to oil companies, and stop bargaining away the revenues needed to save our state.”
For more information about Save Our State or to read the budget blueprint, go to SaveOurStateOK.org. Interviews and photos of coalition member organizations and their leaders are available.