Oklahoma house bill failed

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Oklahoma house bill failed

House members watch the vote on HB 1054X on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017.

House members watch the vote on HB 1054X on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017.

William W. Savage III @ nondoc.com

House members watch the vote on HB 1054X on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017.

William W. Savage III @ nondoc.com

William W. Savage III @ nondoc.com

House members watch the vote on HB 1054X on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017.

Johanna Cornejo, Staff Writer

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The House Bill 1054X failed to pass on November 8 with 71 members voting in support and 27 members against it, falling only five votes short.

If approved this bill would have taxed both cigarette and other tobacco products at $1.50 an item, motor fuel at $0.06 a gallon, and would include low-point beer in the mixed beverage tax. In addition, this bill would have raised the gross production tax from 2 percent to 4 percent. According to studies, after a 36-month period, the new taxes would have brought in more than $400 million in tax revenue.

The bill was supposed to bring in money needed by the state of Oklahoma to help offset the budget deficit. If passed, the bill was to help provide much-needed pay raises for public school teachers and for state employees, as well as provide a tax relief for low-income Oklahoma residents.

After the bill did not pass, Okla. Governor Mary Fallin stated, “As a result, worst-case scenarios could become reality for several agencies that are being forced to cut crucial services if the pending revote fails. It will be devastating for many who depend on these services. “

She continued, “This budget package would have helped set us on a path to long-term sustainability and stability by making more recurring revenue available, helped us to stop balancing our budget irresponsibly with one-time funds, and provided a teacher pay raise as well as a raise for state employees, and tax relief for low-income Oklahomans”.

Several representatives however, did not agree with the idea of raising taxes in the state. Opponent of the bill, Rep. Bobby Cleveland, said the bill was simply not something he could support.

“I cannot in good conscious vote to increase a tax burden on my fellow Oklahomans until all cost cutting measures in reducing the inefficiency have been taken and explored. Until then, my vote must be a no,” said Rep. Cleveland.

With dissention among the Oklahoma legislators and a mounting state budget deficit, the issue on how to offset this deficit will continue to be a controversial topic in the months to come.