Oklahoma Closer To Passing Budget, Fixing $215 Million Deficit

Tuesday, October 24th 2017, 10:58 pm

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is applauding House and Senate committees working to fill the $215 million deficit. 

There's been a lot of skepticism about whether it would pass.

The main sticking point is over raising taxes on oil and gas production.

Speaker Charles McCall is guaranteeing House Democrats a vote on the Gross Production Tax if Democrats will pass the budget package Wednesday.

He said, in part, "House Democrats have demanded a vote on increasing the GPT to 5 percent, so here is their chance. All they have to do is pass the revenue package ... That package includes a teacher pay raise of $3,000 a year."

It's something educators say has been a long time coming.

"As far as the parties, I'm sick of the fighting. We are all Oklahomans. Get over it. Get over yourselves. Let's work together to help your fellow Oklahoman," said Shawna Mott-Wright of the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said this will go a long way when it comes to teacher shortages.

"I am grateful for leaders at the Capitol who share this critical goal and seek to address this important investment for increasing student outcomes," she said.

The budget package would also prevent cuts to services, like mental health and substance abuse outpatient programs.

If it does pass, it would raise taxes on fuel, cigarettes, and alcohol to fill the budget gap.