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House members watch the vote on HB 1054X on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (William W. Savage III)

Despite bipartisan support from the Oklahoma Senate, endorsements from two former Democratic governors, backing from Gov. Mary Fallin and pleas from dozens of advocacy organizations, the Oklahoma House of Representatives failed to pass a grand revenue bill this afternoon.

Members voted 71-27 for HB 1054X, but that fell short of the 76 votes necessary for revenue-raising measures under the Oklahoma Constitution. In 1994, voters approved that requirement, which has been a massive hurdle for a modern Legislature facing yearly budget shortfalls.

The vote came during the seventh week of special session and after more than two hours of questions and debate on the House floor Wednesday.

“To hear we have to hurry and do this and get out of here doesn’t make me very happy,” Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia) said in debating against the bill. “We have a fragile oil industry just coming up, and we’ve all been coming in and out of a recession since 2009. It’s been a long, hard row. I just cannot see standing on the backs of people who can’t afford.”

Rep. Tim Downing (R-Purcell) criticized the fact that letters were sent out to vulnerable Oklahomans receiving state services, scaring them that their services would be cut. He also discussed oil and gas companies.

“I’m tired of people beating up oil and gas,” Downing said. “They’ve been treated very poorly.”

Other Republicans voted for the bill.

“All this talk about gross production tax is just that — it’s gross. It’s gross,” said Rep. Marcus McEntire (R-Duncan) in debate for the bill. “This bill is far from perfect, but you know what? I don’t think the people expect perfect. They want solutions, and they want them in a bipartisan manner.”

Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) noted to members that “pro-life doesn’t end when the baby leaves the uterus.”

“A green vote today means you honor and respect our teachers,” Osborn said. “A green vote today means you love the children and the future of our state. (…) If you vote red in the House and the Senate, you don’t care about any group we said. To the people of Oklahoma, vote us out if we vote red.”

More than 75 percent of Democrats voted in favor of the bill.

“The public has lost confidence in our ability to do anything,” said Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-OKC). “This bill is not perfect, but it’s a step. And right now, our citizens are asking us to take that step.”

But Rep. Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa) debated and voted against.

“This bill is neither grand, nor is it a bargain,” Proctor said. “That’s a 30 to 1 regressive tax, folks. If you think that’s compromise, I highly advise you never try to buy a used car.”

The amended bill in the Senate includes the following revenue provisions:

  • a $1.50 tax on cigarettes
  • modifications to tax stamp rules on cigarettes
  • tax rate modification on “little cigars”
  • a new tax on chewing tobacco, smokeless tobacco and snuff
  • a $0.06 increase on the gas and diesel tax
  • and a change to the taxation of low-point beer
  • an increase in the gross production tax incentive rate from 2 percent to 4 percent

The revenue bill had been the trigger necessary for a $3,000 teacher pay raise, a $1,000 public employee pay raise and the restoration of the earned income tax credit’s refundability.

How they voted

Representative District Party Yea/Nay
Tadlock, Johnny 1 D Yea
Bennett, John 2 R Absent
West, Rick 3 R Nay
Meredith, Matt 4 D Yea
West, Josh 5 R Yea
Hoskin, Chuck 6 D Yea
Loring, Ben 7 D Yea
Gann, Tom 8 R Nay
Lepak, Mark 9 R Yea
Dunlap, Travis 10 R Nay
Sears, Earl 11 R Yea
McDugle, Kevin 12 R Yea
Frix, Avery 13 R Yea
Faught, George 14 R Nay
Cannaday, Ed 15 D Yea
Fetgatter, Scott 16 R Yea
Renegar, Brian 17 D Yea
Condit, Donnie 18 D Yea
Humphrey, Justin 19 R Yea
Cleveland, Bobby 20 R Nay
Roberts, Dustin 21 R Yea
McCall, Charles 22 R Yea
O’Donnell, Terry 23 R Nay
Kouplen, Steve 24 D Nay
Thomsen, Todd 25 R Yea
Kerbs, Dell 26 R Yea
Cockroft, Josh 27 R Yea
Taylor, Zack 28 R Yea
Hilbert, Kyle 29 R Yea
Lawson, Mark 30 R Yea
Murphey, Jason 31 R Nay
Wallace, Kevin 32 R Yea
Babinec, Greg 33 R Yea
Williams, Cory 34 D Nay
Casey, Dennis 35 R Yea
Roberts, Sean 36 R Nay
Vaughan, Steve 37 R Yea
Pfeiffer, John 38 R Yea
Martinez, Ryan 39 R Yea
Caldwell, Chad 40 R Yea
Enns, John 41 R Nay
Downing, Tim 42 R Nay
Jordan, John Paul 43 R Yea
Virgin, Emily 44 D Yea
Griffith, Claudia 45 D Yea
Rosecrants, Jacob 46 D Yea
Osborn, Leslie 47 R Yea
Ownbey, Pat 48 R Yea
Hardin, Tommy 49 R Nay
McEntire, Marcus 50 R Yea
Vacant 51 na N/A
Ortega, Charles 52 R Yea
McBride, Mark 53 R Nay
West, Kevin 54 R Nay
Russ, Todd 55 R Yea
Perryman, David 56 D Yea
Wright, Harold 57 R Yea
Newton, Carl 58 R Yea
Sanders, Mike 59 R Yea
Baker, Rhonda 60 R Yea
Murdock, Casey 61 R Yea
Montgomery, John 62 R Yea
Coody, Jeff 63 R Nay
Worthen, Rande 64 R Yea
Park, Scooter 65 R Yea
Nollan, Jadine 66 R Yea
McEachin, Scott 67 R Nay
Mulready, Glen 68 R Yea
Strohm, Chuck 69 R Nay
Bush, Carol 70 R Yea
Henke, Katie 71 R Yea
Nichols, Monroe 72 D Yea
Goodwin, Regina 73 D Yea
Derby, Dale 74 R Nay
Gaddis, Karen 75 D Yea
Vacant 76 na N/A
Proctor, Eric 77 D Nay
Blancett, Meloyde 78 D Yea
Watson, Weldon 79 R Yea
Ritze, Mike 80 R Nay
Osburn, Mike 81 R Yea
Calvey, Kevin 82 R Nay
McDaniel, Randy 83 R Yea
West, Tammy 84 R Yea
Munson, Cyndi 85 D Yea
Fourkiller, William 86 D Yea
Walke, Collin 87 D Yea
Dunnington, Jason 88 D Yea
Stone, Shane 89 D Nay
Echols, Jon 90 R Yea
Kannady, Chris 91 R Yea
Bennett, Forrest 92 D Yea
Dollens, Mickey 93 D Yea
Inman, Scott 94 D Nay
Ford, Roger 95 R Yea
Moore, Lewis 96 R Nay
Lowe, Jason 97 D Yea
Rogers, Michael 98 R Nay
Young, George 99 D Yea
Hall, Elise 100 R Yea
Teague, Tess 101 R Nay

How we got here: Special session background

Gov. Mary Fallin called for the Legislature to convene in special session on Sept. 25. Her directive asked lawmakers to fill a $215 million budget hole that was created when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that a new “cigarette fee” was unconstitutional. She also encouraged legislators to find a way to fund a teacher pay raise, stabilize the state’s budget and seek efficiencies in government.

After weeks of negotiations, Fallin, McCall and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz (R-Altus) announced a revenue agreement between the three of them that Democrats declined to support because it did not include a gross production tax increase. As that vote occurred, House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-OKC) announced he would resign in January. The next day, Schulz and the Senate passed a unanimous resolution calling for the House to add a gross production tax increase into the revenue bill.

More than a week after the House let that bill stall in a Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget meeting, the Senate amended a House bill to add GPT into the revenue package, passed it and functionally forced the House to consider the bill.

It passed JCAB on Tuesday by a 19-6 vote.

(Update: This piece was updated at 6:37 p.m. to clarify a percentage of Democrats who voted for the bill.)

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William W. Savage III holds a journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma. He covered two sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature for eCapitol.net before working in health care for six years. He is a nationally certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.