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23 Mar
0

House Democrats Release Statement on OEA Funding Plan

Communications & Public Affairs
March 23, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Steve Kouplen
Phone: (405) 557-7306

House Democrats Release Statement on OEA Funding Plan

OKLAHOMA CITY – Minority Leader Steve Kouplen released the following statement on behalf of House Democrats in response to the Oklahoma Education Association’s plan to reinvest and restore our state’s commitment to education and core state services.

“We applaud the effort of the Oklahoma Education Association and teachers across the state that have stood up and said ‘enough is enough.’ Oklahoma can no longer afford to ignore its obligation to fund education nor can we afford to continue to devalue the role of public education in society. We realize this fight is as much about respect as it is revenue, and we stand with teachers in this effort. The revenue package outlined today is a step in the right direction. Our hope is that we can use this roadmap to work with Republicans in the House and build a budget that restores Oklahoma’s commitment to education, rural healthcare, state employees and core state services.”

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20 Mar
0

House Dems Respond to Court’s Decision to Allow GPT State Question

Communications & Public Affairs
March 20, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Steve Kouplen
Phone: (405) 557-7306

House Dems Respond to Court’s Decision to Allow GPT State Question

OKLAHOMA CITY – Several House Democrats have responded to yesterday’s Oklahoma Supreme Court decision to allow an initiative petition to restore the gross production tax to pay for education costs to proceed.

State Question 795 would eliminate the tax rate that caps gross production at 2 percent and effectively restore the gross production tax back to 7 percent on all oil and gas wells. The restoration of the gross production tax will bring in an additional $340 million. A portion of this revenue would then be used to fund a $4,000 teacher pay raise and provide funding for other costs related to public education.

“This initiative represents the last stand for teachers,” said Minority Leader Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs. “In the absence of a substantial revenue package that restores funding to education, provides needed raises to teachers, support staff and state employees, this state question will give the people of Oklahoma an opportunity to increase funding for education by ensuring oil and gas companies pay their fair share.”

The Supreme Court’s decision doesn’t just signal a “plan b” for teacher pay raises. It also offers leverage to allow the Legislature to move on gross production and pass a more complete revenue package that addresses inadequate state agency funding and low teacher and state employee pay.

“The time is now,” said Rep. David Perryman, D-Chickasha. “The oil and gas industry has spent millions of dollars to keep the gross production rate at 2 percent. Now, they are staring down the barrel at 7 percent. Surely, with this added pressure on the industry, the Republicans inside the Capitol can come to the table and agree to a revenue package that includes a gross production tax of at least 5 percent.”

As the debate on gross production tax continues, oil and gas companies have threatened layoffs in response to the restoration of the tax rate, but many democrats have argued that the layoffs have already happened in education and other essential services despite the low GPT.

“Restoring the gross production tax isn’t about punishing oil and gas,” said Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa. “This is about restoring funding to rural health care so we can stop the closure of rural hospitals. This is about ensuring teachers in Oklahoma don’t have to take multiple jobs to provide for their family. This is about the Department of Corrections being able to hire more correctional officers so prisons are adequately staffed. This is about doing what is fair and what is right for the people of Oklahoma.”

Although restoring the gross production tax doesn’t bring in enough revenue by itself to shore up the state’s financial woes, it does provide a key element to a revenue package that could.

“Since early last year, our caucus has said we will not support a revenue package that continues to shift the tax burden in this state from the wealthy to working-class Oklahomans,” Kouplen said. “If Republicans are serious about wanting to fix this problem, now is their opportunity. Lawmakers will never have a better chance than this moment to negotiate a deal that fairly increases revenue to restore funding to state agencies and provide an opportunity to raise the pay of teachers, educational support staff and state employees.”

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14 Mar
0

Chair Tom Perez on National School Walkout Day

DNC Chair Tom Perez on National School Walkout Day

DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement as students across the nation demand action on gun violence during National School Walkout Day:

“It is profoundly inspiring to see millions of students across the country organizing and demanding action to end the epidemic of gun violence. As they keep reminding us, thoughts and prayers are not enough; now is the time for action.

“Democrats are proud to support these students, and we refuse to believe that we are powerless to prevent the mass slaughter of innocent people. Every day, seven children and teens die from gun violence. This is not normal. This is not acceptable. This is not inevitable. The cruel and cowardly indifference of the gun lobby and their close allies in Congress is no match for the courage of these students and all those fighting to end gun violence. Because of their leadership and activism, we know that one day we will no longer live in a nation that sees its children murdered and does nothing.”

14 Mar
0

Inman Offers Opportunity to Negotiate Revenue Deal on House Floor

Communications & Public Affairs
March 14, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Scott Inman
Phone: (405) 557-7370

Inman Offers Opportunity to Negotiate Revenue Deal on House Floor

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Scott Inman has filed an amendment to an amendment on House Bill 2152 to offer an opportunity to debate and pass multiple revenue raising measures on the House floor.

House Bill 2152, authored by Speaker Charles McCall, is currently a shell bill that is expected to be used as a vehicle for a future revenue raising measure. The amendment filed by Inman would cap itemized deductions at $12,500 for single filers and $25,000 for joint filers, eliminate capital gains exemptions, and restore the historic gross production tax on oil and gas to 7 percent.

“This amendment and this bill represent an opportunity to put a revenue package together on the House floor,” said Inman, D-Del City. “The amendments I have put forward represent the same revenue raising measures that House Democrats requested in the Step Up Oklahoma plan negotiations that failed to make it into the final legislation.”

By allowing the revenue package to be pieced together on the House floor through amendments, House members would have an opportunity to not only say they support raising revenue to support teachers and state agencies but prove it.

“We chose the Speaker’s shell bill because we want the Republican Party to bring their ideas to the floor as well,” Inman said. “It’s time to end this fiscal crisis and start producing results. Let’s put the ideas on the floor and see what happens.

“The House Democratic Caucus has been very open and direct through this process, and we have no problem showing the people of Oklahoma exactly what we support and – just as importantly – don’t support. If a House member doesn’t like an idea, they should vote ‘no.’ If they do support it, obviously, they can vote ‘yes.’ What we don’t want to happen is for Republican leadership to tell the people of Oklahoma they don’t deserve to see how a member votes by tabling the amendments.”

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08 Mar
0

When We Compete, We Can Win

When we compete, we can win anywhere — even in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Democratic Party has flipped 4 seats in the state legislature from 🔴 to 🔵 since the start of 2017. How did they do it? Here’s their story:

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