OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma — A coalition of more than 30 nonprofits, professional organizations and advocacy groups is urging Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall to allow a vote on increasing the gross production tax.
The Save Our State Coalition issued the following statement today:
“The Oklahoma Legislature must restore the gross production tax to 7 percent to prevent the collapse of core services across our state. More than 70 state representatives have committed to raising the gross production tax. We urge Speaker McCall to allow the State House to take a vote on this issue.”
Revenue bills must pass through the House before moving to the Senate.
The coalition, which represents hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans, is urging Oklahoma lawmakers to fully fund core government services, particularly schools, infrastructure, health care and families. Regular Oklahomans with all kinds of backgrounds have been lobbying lawmakers to support an increase in GPT on behalf of the Save Our State Coalition.
Save Our State has proposed a three-year budget blueprint that outlines revenue solutions that restore public funding.
The SOS Coalition is hosting a Titanic-themed event from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Coalition members will deliver letters to House Speaker Charles McCall asking him to allow a vote on a gross production tax increase.
Several leaders of Save Our State Coalition member organizations issued statements as well:
David Blatt, executive director of Oklahoma Policy Institute, a Tulsa-based think-tank: “Oklahoma can legally change the tax rate on oil and gas production in exactly the same way as Republicans are proposing higher taxes on cigarettes and motor fuels. Restoring the historical tax rate of 7 percent would bring in as much as $313 million for next year’s budget, which will help us avert devastating cuts to essential services. A balanced approach to fixing our budget cannot only include revenue increases that fall most heavily on moderate- and low-income Oklahomans while leaving in place tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy. In addition to restoring the historical gross production tax, other measures like ending the capital gains exemption, limiting itemized deductions, and restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit need to be part of the mix.”
Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, which represents 30,000 current and retired teachers and education support professionals statewide: “We are advocating for better conditions in our classrooms, but our children deserve to be safe, fed and healthy beyond the walls of our schools. Core state services have been gutted across the board, and without raising revenue, things will only get worse. Our children need our lawmakers to do what is right instead of what’s politically expedient. They must raise the gross production tax and save our state. Our children deserve better than this. They deserve a fully-funded education. They deserve lawmakers who care about their future.”
Sterling Zearley, executive director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, which represents 10,000 public employees statewide: “State employees and the Oklahoma citizens they serve desperately need a vote in support of raising the GPT. Failure to do so will mean more layoffs of state workers, more cuts in services for the poor, the mentally ill, and seniors, more dangerous prisons, and more dangerous highways due to lack of troopers on duty.”
Amber England, executive director of Stand for Children Oklahoma, an education advocacy nonprofit: “House leaders should immediately allow an up-or-down vote on restoring the historic 7 percent rate for gross production taxes paid by oil and gas companies,” said Amber England. “Working families shouldn’t have to continue shouldering the burden of the budget cuts when there is clearly support to make oil and gas companies pay their fair share.”
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.
Carrie Coppernoll Jacobs
Oklahoma Education Association