Step Up Plan Stumbles And Falls In Crucial House Vote

Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

Step Up Oklahoma supporters crowded the House gallery Monday. The plan was on the path to failure, although House leaders held the vote open for hours.

Lawmakers are right back where they started after a much-anticipated vote to pass one of the largest tax increases in state history fell short in the state House.

Despite business luminaries and hundreds of educators filling the Capitol in support of the Step Up Oklahoma Plan, the revenue-raising proposal only received 63 votes, which was 13 votes shy of passing the constitutionally required three-fourths threshold for revenue-raising bills.

Voting no was a mixed group of anti-tax Republicans and Democrats, who disagreed with how new income taxes were distributed and claimed the gross production tax rate on oil and gas production was too low.

The Legislature now appears without a plan to find new revenue to pass a teacher pay raise plan and fill a hole in the current year’s budget and shore up next year’s budget. Here’s a look through social media at how they got here and what’s next after a marathon day at the Capitol.

The Plan

The Step Up Oklahoma plan, a budget proposal crafted by business leaders and endorsed by Gov. Mary Fallin, has been in the works for two months.

The plan gradually drew support from advocacy groups around the state. Supporters billed it as the best revenue package that could pass the Legislature. But, just a week after lawmakers gaveled in for the 2018 regular session, legislative leaders decided to put it to a crucial test — getting 76 votes in the 101-member chamber.

The #okleg House has gaveled in to take up HB1033 ( the @StepUpOklahoma plan that increases taxes on tobacco, motor fuel, oil/gas production from 2% to 4% for first 36 months and adds new wind/solar tax) and the $5k teacher raise bill pic.twitter.com/MBDiqdzn81

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

Here is the breakdown of HB1033: It would raise $20.4M in FY18 and $581.4M in FY19 – one of the biggest, if not the biggest, single tax increase in Oklahoma’s history #okleg pic.twitter.com/Ria1v3ENQL

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

Here’s the current party breakdown of the #okleg House. So even if all 71 Republicans votes yes (and that’s won’t happen), they would need at least five Democrats to et it passed 2/ pic.twitter.com/M6DzT64eyA

— Trevor Brown (@tbrownOKC) February 12, 2018

If, and only if, HB1033 passes, #okleg will take up HB1030, which would increase teachers’ salaries by $5K. This would cost the state $295M a year #oklaed pic.twitter.com/K1mIIA6MLv

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

Scott Meacham: Step Up Oklahoma a hopeful, powerful proposal-@tulsaworld https://t.co/zLP4kZO6Q7

— Step Up Oklahoma (@StepUpOklahoma) February 12, 2018

Building Support

One of the biggest crowds in recent memory filled the Capitol ahead of the vote as education supporters and others who backed Step Up Oklahoma put pressure on lawmakers to pass the plan.

Big gathering of education supporters now in the Capitol, urging for a yes vote on today’s @StepUpOklahoma tax plan (increases taxes on tobacco, motor fuel, oil/gas production to 4% for 36 months, adds new wind/solar tax and provides teachers with $5K raise) #okleg #oklaed pic.twitter.com/NjghMzL5Yi

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

.@joy4ok on need to pass a revenue plan that pays for teacher raise: “There is no glory in gridlock.” #okleg #oklaed pic.twitter.com/aECkrJLcfV

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

Overheard at #StepUpForTeachers Day from a Woodall teacher: I’m so frustrated with legislators telling me to wait for a better solution. #okleg #oklaed

— OK Education Assoc. (@okea) February 12, 2018

Former OU football head coach Barry Switzer now speaking in support of @StepUpOklahoma tax and teacher raise plan: “Legislators who vote no on @StepUpOklahoma aren’t not simply only saying no to you and your families, they are saying no to the children of our state.” #okleg pic.twitter.com/kuWxBZ0XiZ

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

Other Options

Support for the proposal, however, was far from unanimous. Leading the charge were anti-tax groups and wind-energy advocates who urged lawmakers to look for other ways to raise revenue.

Ahead of today’s @StepUpOklahoma tax vote, one of its main opponents, @OCPAThink is proposing its own plan — including $5K teacher raise and taking gross production taxes to 5% for first 36 months #okleg pic.twitter.com/LADqjQqrSo

— Trevor Brown (@tbrownOKC) February 12, 2018

In addition to 5% GPT, $.75 cig tax increase, capping wind credits and asking tribes to “step up” and decline future rebates from tobacco sales, @OCPAThink president Jonathan Small say revenue plan should include state question to use TSET for Medicaid costs #okleg pic.twitter.com/elb8Wevklz

— Trevor Brown (@tbrownOKC) February 12, 2018

As your constituents get ready to file their taxes in April did you ask if they would like to pay a lot more? #okleg

— No New Oklahoma Taxes (@NoOkTax) February 12, 2018

Bipartisanship at its worst, as @officialOKGOP & @OkDemocrats legislators seek to hike fuel, tobacco, and oil/gas production taxes. @WOSbook #OKleg @OCPAThink #stepupoklahoma #HB1033 @StepUpOklahoma

— Stephen Moore (@StephenMoore) February 12, 2018

“Big Oil” wants to run wind power out of Oklahoma, hurting our state’s reputation and scaring away mega employers. Help make Oklahoma less dependent on “Big Oil’s” booms-and-busts. Support wind power. Call your Legislator: https://t.co/8tDCzypewH pic.twitter.com/wRzLeGTZ99

— OKWINDPOWER (@okwindpower) February 9, 2018

The Debate

After much anticipation, lawmakers finally got to have their say when debate on the bill began. Members of both parties ratcheted up the rhetoric as they made their case why it should pass or die.

Former Budget Chair Rep. Leslie Osborn (R) debating for the bill: There is no such thing as a perfect budget bill or a perfect compromise … but what you can do is come together with the best option #okleg

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

Speaker @charles_mccall3 now debating for the bill from the well of the House. Notes that this is the first time as speaker has debated a bill for/against on the floor. “I’m debating now because it’s not time to be silent. It’s time for action.” #okleg

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

Moving debate from @rogersmichael21 in favor of HB1033xx: We should want the most qualified, skilled teachers we can find. #oklaed #okleg #stepupforteachers pic.twitter.com/GaOF5varXN

— OSSBA (@OSSBAoklahoma) February 12, 2018

Rep. Murdock (R) debating against (first Republican to do so): We are looking at a $590M tax increase across Oklahoma … I do not disagree we need revenue and our teachers need a pay raise … but we need to vet this. We need this bill to go through the process. #okleg

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

Hard to express how heartbreaking it is to hear @casey_murdock oppose HB1033. Educators have stood with you since your first election. You aren’t standing with us today. #okleg

— OK Education Assoc. (@okea) February 12, 2018

Budget Chair Rep. Wallace (R) for the bill now: We have to fix FY18 budget, there is a gap, and there is constitutional requirement, this is our best option. There are things in this for everyone. A no vote on this is a vote for the status quo. #okleg

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

The only people saying this is the last and best chance at fixing things are people who aren’t willing to keep working on it. And I don’t accept that. I’m here. I’ll keep working. https://t.co/Nb8qWGOOJE

— Rep. Forrest Bennett (@ForrestBennett) February 12, 2018

Rep. Virgin (D): Our caucus has asked for fair equitable plan, including income tax, something that put our gross production tax at least not at the bottom of the barrel compared to other states #okleg

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

I made a tough vote today, but I listened to my constituents. No one said this would be easy and I certainly do not claim in to be. The #StepUp plan has many flaws: decrease in standard deduction, double tax on renewables, and increasing the gasoline tax. 1/

— Cyndi Munson (@CyndiMunson85) February 13, 2018

Solid debating on both sides of this issue today. Impassioned pleas, lots of good points, pushing all the right buttons. #okleg

— Andy Moore (@andyokc) February 12, 2018

pic.twitter.com/i6EsLX8mLU

— Governor Mary Fallin (@GovMaryFallin) February 12, 2018

The Open Vote

Red lights lit up quickly on the House of Representative’s vote board as many lawmakers quickly cast their no votes seconds after debate ended.

The proposal appeared headed for a quick demise as the vote tally soon went to 61-35 — far short of the margin needed to pass. But Republican leaders, hoping to convince enough lawmakers to switch their votes, left the vote open for hours.

Few lawmakers ended up changing their votes as the measure headed toward defeat.

Voting on @StepUpOklahoma tax bill is now underway #okleg

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

#okleg House vote on the tax bill is now 61-35 with four votes out (there is one vacancy in the 101-member House) … still falling far short of the 76 needed to pass. #okleg pic.twitter.com/UxA8kgNz1n

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 12, 2018

Scenes from outside the chamber as the House vote for HB 1033xx remains open. #okleg pic.twitter.com/5RBjiKYnf2

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 13, 2018

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for leaving the vote open. We must quit kicking the can down the road.

— Governor Mary Fallin (@GovMaryFallin) February 12, 2018

Past 8 p.m. now and #okleg still hadn’t closed the vote on the @StepUpOklahoma tax plan … vote remains 63-35 and well short of the 76 votes needed pic.twitter.com/VkYBAVqiju

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 13, 2018

House Speaker @charles_mccall3 says he will keep vote on @StepUpOklahoma plan open until “later this evening” to give Democrats one last opportunity to deliver this package #okleg

— Trevor Brown (@tbrownOKC) February 13, 2018

Quick #okleg fact check: In blaming Dems, McCall is right that more Repubs voted for the bill (53/72 or 74%) than Dems (10/28 or 36%). But what he’s leaving out is that Dems delivered enough votes (they needed at least 4) to pass the bill if he delivered the entire GOP caucus https://t.co/xQ31ZTEyE2

— Trevor Brown (@tbrownOKC) February 13, 2018

Just In: Statement from #okleg @HouseDemsOK indicates they will not vote in mass to change their votes and support the @StepUpOklahoma tax plan tonight … Almost a certainty now the bill will fail pic.twitter.com/HkY5rz6Z9a

— Trevor Brown (@tbrownOKC) February 13, 2018

#okleg House vote on $580 million @StepUpOklahoma revenue plan that would have raised taxes on tobacco, oil/gas, wind and motor fuel fails on 63-35 vote (needed 76 to pass). Here is the final roll call sheet: pic.twitter.com/z4utt1etz4

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 13, 2018

Vote breakdown on the failed @StepUpOklahoma #okleg tax bill (need 75% of 101-member chamber):

– Total: 63/98 (64%) voted yes (two excused and one vacant seat)

– Republicans: 53/71 (74.6%) voted yes (one excused)

– Democrats: 10/27 (37%)

10/27 (37%) voted yes (one excused)

— Oklahoma Watch (@OklahomaWatch) February 13, 2018

The Reaction and Aftermath

The Legislature ended its daylong session Monday without a clear picture of what is next to come. Although House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said there will be no other revenue packages considered this session, Democrats said they are willing to return to the negotiating table to find a compromise.

If this holds true, a teacher pay raise during the 2018 session is dead.

But it means the proposed state question, which could be on the November general election ballot, to pay for teacher raises by upping all oil/gas wells to 7 percent just got a major boost. #okleg https://t.co/56BQPPyWDP

— Trevor Brown (@tbrownOKC) February 13, 2018

#okleg House Democrats offer their budget demands:

1. Restoration of top income tax rate to 5.25%, restore EITC & increase the standard deduction for middle class Oklahomans

2. End “retaliatory” double tax attempts on wind energy

3. 5% GPT

4. Teacher/state employee pay hike

— Trevor Brown (@tbrownOKC) February 13, 2018

David Rainbolt, BancFirst Executive Chairman and @StepUpOklahoma supporter on likely defeat of the tax plan “this is a dark day for education … we have lost the teacher pay raise .. we have lost the ability to govern” #okleg

— Trevor Brown (@tbrownOKC) February 13, 2018

OPEA Statement Regarding Failure of HB1033XX

“Today’s failure by the Oklahoma House of Representatives to pass HB1033xx is disheartening to state employees and those they serve. It also leaves them wondering if more services cuts are on the horizon for later this year.”

— Oklahoma Public Employees Association (@OklaPEA) February 13, 2018

The failure of today’s $5K teacher pay raise is a soul-crushing blow for education. Each day our teacher shortage goes unaddressed we put our children at further risk. I’m grateful for every legislator who voted with education today. We fight on! #OklaEd #OKLeg @oksde

— Joy Hofmeister (@joy4ok) February 13, 2018

Source : http://oklahomawatch.org/2018/02/12/step-up-plan-stumbles/

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