OKLAHOMA CITY - The initiative petition seeking to give teachers a pay raise by increasing the state's gross production tax (GPT) was withdrawn by the organizers of Restore Oklahoma Now. 

The proposal was designed to pump $300 million into public education by raising the GPT on new wells to 7%. Group organizers said they will focus instead on the 2018 legislative elections and participate in a broad coalition to defeat a possible veto referendum to repeal the teacher pay funding package passed in March. 

Restore Oklahoma organizers added that any future attempt to lower the GPT would be met with a new initiative petition. 

 “We view HB 1010xx as a reasonable start. However, any effort in this or a future legislature to reintroduce a reduced GPT will be met with a new initiative petition, or perhaps a veto referendum, to protect funds for public education and other state services priorities,” he said.

The petition leader, Mickey Thompson also said confusion and potential legal conflicts between the detailed allocation of funds in the proposed constitutional amendment and the appropriation of various tax changes contained in the legislative measures enacted last month was another concern.

The following statement was provided by Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., a Tulsa independent oilman and chair of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance (OEPA), the initial organizational member of the Restore Oklahoma Now coalition.

“Yes, there is much more to be done, not only in restoring funds to public education, but in many other areas of state government, such as corrections, health services, child services, higher education and transportation.“OEPA members come from virtually every community in Oklahoma. We are committed to working with the legislature and all stakeholders to find answers to these issues.  We believe our industry must lead. As Oklahoma-based energy producers, we will continue to stand up for our state.”

Restore Oklahoma Now was formed in the summer of 2017 with a single focus to provide public school teachers with a significant pay raise.