House Democrats partner with Republican Auditor & Inspector on bipartisan revenue package

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma House Democrats have partnered with state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones to create a revenue package to help end the state’s current budget crisis and provide teachers and state employees with a pay raise. 
“One of the primary issues we had with the Step Up Oklahoma plan was that the primary source of its funding came from regressive taxes,” said House Minority Leader Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs. “This plan raises a similar amount of revenue, but it does so in a way that is equitable for both high- and low-wage earners.”
The plan’s details (revenue for Fiscal Year 2019):
    1. An increase of the first 36 months of gross production tax on oil and gas from 2 percent to 5 percent ($200 million).
    2. A 75-cent tax on cigarettes and little cigars ($135 million).
    3. A 3-cent per gallon tax increase on gasoline and 6-cent per gallon tax on diesel ($113 million).
    4. Implementing a cap on itemized deductions at $17,000 per household excluding charitable donations ($106 million). Total Revenue: $554 million
“This is a plan, that if backed by Republican leadership, we feel can pass through the House,” said Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman. “It fairly spreads the tax burden across multiple socioeconomic groups, and it funds government without more dangerous budget cuts.”
House Democrats project the plan could generate total revenue of $554 million
The House Democratic plan includes restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-income Oklahomans. State Rep. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, said in an email note to CapitolBeatOK. Young wrote, “I do continue to push for reinstatement of EITC because of what it means directly to my District.”  Young said H.D. 99, most of the northeast side of Oklahoma City, “was the worst impacted” by EITC elimination in prior budget cycle. 

Auditor and Inspector Jones, a Republican, issued a separate press release which did not stress the fourth item in the House minority caucus release (the cap on itemized deductions). In his separate release, Jones commented, “Instead of the one-size fits all, sweeping revenue bill that failed on Monday, I’m proposing a simpler measure that I hope both sides can agree to.”
Jones said that measure could “generate approximately $448 million in revenue and is sufficient to fund a $5,000 pay raise for teachers and raises for state employees. To make this happen, both sides are being asked to give a little.”

NOTE: Editor Pat McGuigan contributed to this report.