High gas bill benefits

Thursday, March 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Many people are upset over the recent jump in their natural gas bills. But the State of Oklahoma says the higher rates may actually prevent a budget shortfall.

KOTV’s Donn Robertson explains that 7% of the gross receipts from oil and gas producers go to the state. A legislative aide says that money will help boost a lower than expected state revenue from sales and income taxes. Last year, Oklahoma received $400-million in taxes from oil, gas and petroleum producers. This fiscal year, many producers expect that will double because of the recent hike in natural gas prices. More than half that money goes to the state's general fund and another 10% is earmarked for schools and county roads.

Producers say they are glad to be able to help. Dewey Bartlett Jr., President of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association says, "It would be good if more people, before they take a reactive statement that these guys are a bunch of bums, let's really look at it on a whole what they good things the industry does do for our community." Producers admit knowing they are helping the state won’t ease consumer complaints over recent bills. They do say prices were very low for more than a decade and they suffered several layoffs.

The companies who survived are now paying back the loans that kept them afloat.