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Oklahoma lawmakers pass sweeping package of tax hikes

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A sweeping package of tax hikes on tobacco, motor fuel and oil, natural gas and wind production that would generate nearly $600 million to fund a teacher pay raise has cleared two key Oklahoma legislative committees.

Special budget committees in the House and Senate each passed House Bill 1033 on Thursday, setting up potential final votes in the House and Senate early next week. Because it raises taxes, passage will require a three-fourth's vote in each chamber. It passed the House committee 21-5 and the Senate panel 10-2.

Democrats have raised concerns about the new tax on wind energy and a companion bill that makes several changes to the individual income tax rates.

The bills are a key part of the "Step Up Oklahoma " plan endorsed by state business leaders.

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