Let the debate begin!
That’s what we all thought when we saw the recent Oklahoma Supreme Court decision in favor of Restore Oklahoma Now, Inc., ruling that their initiative petition — State Question 795 — seeking a public vote on whether to increase the oil and gas production tax was “legally sufficient.” Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA), one of the industry’s strongest advocacy groups, had challenged the petition, arguing the proposal created an unconstitutional retroactive tax and violated the single-subject rule, and the court didn’t buy it, according to Associated Press.
So now Restore Oklahoma Now, Inc., which has its own strong connections to the oil and natural gas industry, will work to gather about 124,000 signatures during a 90-day window to ensure Oklahoma voters are asked on a statewide ballot whether the state should restore the gross production tax to 7 percent to fund a $4,000 teacher pay raise and add funding to early education programs.
A day after the ruling, OIPA had yet to issue a statement in response to the court’s decision, so Chicken-Fried News looked to Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association (OKOGA) to see how they felt about this ballot initiative moving forward.
“It’s easy to look at the oil and natural gas industry for a quick fix when the state is facing economic hardship, but raising taxes on a single industry is not a cure-all for every financial woe,” OKOGA president Chad Warmington said in a press statement. “It is dangerous to further tie teacher salaries and education funding more strongly to a revenue source that fluctuates radically. Should this measure make it to the ballot, we will educate the public on the consequences of passing such an initiative, including the job losses it will cause in the energy sector.”
Chicken-Fried News can only begin to imagine the billions of dollars funding the Vote No on SQ 795 campaign. Although, we should note the campaign will likely be called Oil Keeps Oklahoma Moving Forward campaign.
On the other side, Restore Oklahoma Now didn’t mention much about educating Oklahomans in its press release. In fact, founder Mickey Thompson and others involved look forward to gathering 130,000-140,000 signatures.
There’s more to come from both Restore Oklahoma Now and the future Oil Keeps Oklahoma Moving Forward campaigns. Chicken-Fried News just wants to know if you’re registered to vote yet.