Two of Oklahoma’s largest oil and gas industry groups have come out in support of Step Up Oklahoma, the newly-formed group of business and civic leaders seeking reforms in state government and an end to the state budget crisis.
Both the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association announced they are backing the plan revealed last week by Step Up Oklahoma.
“OKOGA realizes our state is facing serious budget issues that must be immediately addressed,” said Chad Warmington, President of the Oil and Gas Association. “We support this plan because it does not perpetuate the bad economic policy of isolating taxes to one single industry and because it demands compromise from multiple industries and other sources.”
Tim Wigley, President of OIPA explained his group’s support depended on the willingness of the legislature to keep all the revenue-raising measures presented in the Step Up Oklahoma plan.
Warmington said the vote was not easy because OKOGA members realize increasing production taxes may lead to less investment in Oklahoma.
However, he said members have agreed to line up behind the plan if lawmakers will agree to keep all the other proposed revenue-raising measures intact so that the tax burden is spread out.
Included in Step Up Oklahoma’s plan is a call to increase the gross production tax on new oil and gas wells from 2 to 4 percent. The group also has a goal of a $5,000 teacher pay raise along with reforms in state government.
While Warmington and other oil and gas leaders have complained that any increase in gross production taxes would lead to less investment in Oklahoma, members agreed to line up behind the plan if lawmakers agreed to keep all the revenue measures intact.
OKOGA Board Chairman Wade Hutchings said, “Our member companies’ employees live and work in Oklahoma. They desire a good life for their families and neighbors, including access to healthcare and quality education supported by competitive teacher pay. We also appreciate the evolving reforms in Step Up Oklahoma and remain hopeful the oil and gas industry can be part of the solution to Oklahoma’s long- and short-term issues.”