Group Drops Petition Drive for Higher Gross Production Taxes on Oil and Gas

The group of oil producers and educators behind a petition drive to increase the gross production tax on oil and gas wells in Oklahoma dropped the effort on Monday.
Restore Oklahoma Now, Inc. announced it had withdrawn the petition to raise the GPT on new wells to 7% in order to raise $300 million for public education and teacher pay raises.
Mickey Thompson, hired to run the campaign said steps taken by the legislature to increase teacher pay led to the decision.
“We view HB 1010xx as a reasonable start,” said Thompson. “However, any effort in this or a future legislature to reintroduce a reduced GPT will be met with a new initiative petition, or perhaps a veto referendum,to protect funds for public education and other state services.”
He said confusion and potential legal conflicts over the allocation of funds in the proposed constitutional amendment and the appropriation of various tax changes in the legislative action last month was another concern.
Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., an independent oilman from Tulsa and one of the initial organizing members of the group also issued a statement.
“Yes, there is much more to be done,not only in restoring funds to public education,but in many other areas of state government, such as corrections, health services, child services, higher education and transportation.”
Bartlett is also chairman of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance.
“We are committed to working with the legislature and all stakeholders to find answers to these issues. We believe our industry must lead. As Oklahoma-based energy producers, we will continue to stand up for our state.”
Restore Oklahoma Now originally was formed as a nonprofit to raise $3 million with the goal of getting a state question on the general election ballot in November.
Another of the organizers was Mike Cantrell, chairman of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance. He said last year at the time of forming the group, “We think it’s a matter of fairness to Oklahomans that all oil and natural gas production be taxed at a flat and competitive – with other states – rate that helps sustain essential state services, especially addressing our teacher crisis and teacher pay.”
At the time, he called the discussions in the legislature’s special session “a mere bandage” on the state’s budget crisis.