The following is an op-ed from Chad Warmington, head of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association.
Drew Edmondson is wrong about taxes
By Chad Warmington
The Democrats’ candidate for governor has a terrible idea to solve a problem that no longer exists.
Drew Edmondson wants to raise the gross production tax (GPT) on oil and natural gas to 7 percent for no good reason.
In the past two legislative sessions, state leaders faced a true crisis. Shrinking revenue meant a budget deficit, cuts to critical state services and difficulty funding the educator pay raise voters demanded.
As usual, legislators decided to squeeze more money from the state’s most important industry – oil and gas. They eliminated all incentives, cut all rebates and raised the gross production tax 150 percent.
Because of those tax increases, statewide officials are expecting a large surplus for the first time in many years. Imagine having $1 billion in additional revenue! A prudent leader would look at the situation and think about improving the state budgeting process, strategically decide where to invest precious resources and determine how we save for the next downturn in commodity prices.
No matter what the economic indicators say, his answer is to tax the oil and natural gas industry more and more. He wants to make it harder to create jobs in Oklahoma, slash mineral owners’ royalty checks, drive economic development to other states and further link teachers’ paychecks to the energy industry’s ever-volatile business cycles.
Why does he want to harm the companies that employ one in six workers in Oklahoma? Why, instead of diversifying revenue sources, would he want to make the state even MORE dependent on commodity prices? Every boom in the oilfield is followed by a bust. Our state’s next leader must find ways to insulate taxpayers from the next crash, not set them up to be victims again.
Edmondson can’t even articulate how much money he wants to raise, or where he wants to spend it. He just says, “We need all that we can get.”
That’s not how any business or government should operate. State officials should set priorities, figure out how to deliver services efficiently, eliminate waste and develop broad-based solutions to fund programs.
Looking for any excuse to unfairly punish an industry that provides so much to our state shows that Drew Edmondson can’t be trusted to head Oklahoma’s government.