According to recent statewide polling, almost 80% of Oklahomans agree public school teachers should get a pay raise. That’s a startling number, and it’s especially striking that our state legislature has failed to respond to this overwhelming public sentiment for more than a decade.
There’s a serious public policy disconnect between the legislature and the people they represent. That is why Restore Oklahoma Now formed to launch the initiative petition for State Question 795.
Most Oklahomans have read or seen news coverage of our effort. There has been a gratifying outpouring of public support for our group’s effort to bring this popular proposal to a vote of the people.
The harder part of any effort that requires government to spend more money is the revenue generation piece. For SQ 795, we decided the tax burden for the teacher pay raise shouldn’t fall on ordinary Oklahomans (unlike SQ 779 in 2016, which would’ve paid for increased education funding by adding a penny in state sales tax).
Why did we choose the gross production tax on Oklahoma oil and natural gas? The short answer is because YOU wanted us to! We asked hundreds of Oklahomans about their preferred method of raising revenue for a serious teacher pay raise. And the overwhelming majority of Oklahomans said,
“Restore the GPT to 7%.”
We’re not stupid. We listened.
We also thought it was easily the most responsible tax policy position we could put on the ballot. Why? Because Oklahoma’s oil and gas production taxes are the lowest among all major energy producing states. By some margin. This extensive study from the University of Idaho provides plenty of support for these facts, especially the graphic on Page 16 of the study.
The special 2% GPT rate extends for the first three years of every well’s productive life. The discount tax rate may apply for upwards of 75% of the life of a well! That’s not a tax incentive; it’s a giveaway. If oil was at $30/barrel… maybe not so much. But this 350% tax break (compared to our state’s historical rate of 7%) applied even when oil was $120/barrel!
If oil were a risky business in Oklahoma, maybe we should give a serious tax break to drillers. But Oklahoma has the best legal, regulatory, geological, royalty and operating climate in America. Yes, folks, we ARE truly #1 at something! Even without our tax discount give-aways, we are the best place in the world to be in oil and gas!
Why are we giving these huge, profitable public companies and their out-of-state investors this kind of tax benefit? Why are we watching our teachers leave while our children’s future is mortgaged?
We all know the answer. Because the Big Oil lobby controls things at the State Capitol.
That’s how we got here with SQ 795. We look forward to providing you additional insights into our initiative petition and the upcoming campaign on SQ 795 in the weeks to come.
If you have questions, visit our social media pages or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for your support!