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Capitol Report for February 17: Two broad plans for revenue hikes and budget reforms in wake of Step Up defeat, and the election of Mayor David Holt

News9 Alex Cameron (left0 and Patrick B. McGuigan, CapitolBeatOK editor, give the Capitol Report. Photo provided.
News9 Alex Cameron (left0 and Patrick B. McGuigan, CapitolBeatOK editor, give the Capitol Report. Photo provided.

In the Feb. 17 Capitol Report segment on News9, journalist Patrick B. McGuigan reviewed two significant revenue/budget proposals unveiled in wake of the state House defeat of the “Step Up Oklahoma” tax hikes. In dialogue with reporter Alex Cameron, McGuigan pointed at two crucial antecedents to the current situation: Governor Mary Fallin’s surprising veto of the modest tax increases after the first special session, and the surge in state government tax revenues in the past 13 months.

This past week, conservatives advanced a revenue/budget reform proposal, and House Democrats also put forward a spending/tax vision. A key thing they had in common is to raise the Gross Production Tax (GPT) on oil and gas to 5 percent, common ground the CapitolBeatOK editor termed, “pretty significant, and kind of interesting.”

Dr. Tom Coburn supported the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs by advocating for audits of all major state agencies, a tobacco tax hike, changes in use of TSET and land comission revenues, and other proposals. AS for the House Democrats, they advocate an increase in the top income tax rate, advance a pro-wind agenda and other revenue-impacting ideas.

McGuigan observed (as he has before) that Democrats should be part of budget negotiations: “It is silly not to have Democrats at the table in the negotiations process.”

Turning to local news, Cameron pointed out that McGuigan has covered Sen. David Holt throughout his time at the state Capitol, and asked for his observations about his election as mayor of Oklahoma City. McGuigan commented that the lanky Republican ran “as if he had to work hard to get” the notable advantages he had throughout the campaign season. Holt’s reward was an overwhelming victory, with broad support across the political spectrum.

McGuigan believes the mayor-elect’s principal challenge will be find a means for the city to work its way out of dependence on special incentives and credits for business, instead shifting local government toward a generic broad-based tax system that is fair to every one.

Editor’s Note: After this week’s segment was recorded, Republican Auditor & Inspector Gary Jones joined House Democrats in support of some revenue increase proposals.

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