To deliver teachers a $3,000 pay raise and to prevent massive cuts to mental health and other health care services, the Oklahoma Senate in a bipartisan vote approved a resolution Thursday requesting the House of Representatives amend the budget deal to include an increase in the gross production tax of oil and natural gas.
The Senate resolution asks the House to amend the budget agreement bill (HB 1035X) to include an increase in the gross production tax on new oil and gas wells to four percent for a period of 36 months.
Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus, said: “Teachers deserve a pay raise and we can’t let mental health services, rural hospitals and child welfare services bear the brunt of massive budget cuts. Though the deal we announced earlier this week achieved those goals, it’s clear it cannot pass unless gross production taxes are included. Adding GPT to the budget deal certainly wasn’t my first choice, but if it breaks the stalemate it is an option we have to pursue. We now have an opportunity to deliver on teacher pay raises, stop massive budget cuts to health care, and eliminate the constant budget problems plaguing our state. I’m grateful my Democratic and Republican colleagues in the Senate showed leadership in approving this compromise to move Oklahoma forward. We’re hopeful our colleagues in the House will act quickly and join us in solving this problem.”
Senate Democratic Leader John Sparks, D-Norman, said: “This is the time for leadership, real compromise and a long-term plan of action for Oklahoma and its people. We are committed to working together with the Governor and Senate and House leadership toward a resolution that benefits all Oklahomans.”