The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

January 13, 2014

Despite revenue dip, Okla. speaker pushes tax cuts

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

The tax incentive is set to expire in 2015 and if no action is taken by the Legislature, the rate will go back up to 7 percent. Gov. Mary Fallin has signaled she thinks the rate should be set somewhere between 1 percent and 7 percent, said Preston Doerflinger, Fallin's secretary of finance and lead negotiator with the Legislature on the budget.

Shannon's suggestion of making the 1 percent rate permanent is a "non-starter" for the governor, Doerflinger said.

"I would say she's not interested in seeing it move back to 7 percent, either," he added.

Doerflinger said oil and gas industry leaders also have signaled a willingness to negotiate a tax rate above 1 percent, and that discussions were taking place with industry leaders and himself, House Chief of Staff Rick Rose and Jonathan Nichols, the Senate's chief advisor and legal counsel. Because those discussions were ongoing, Doerflinger said he and the governor were surprised when Shannon came out publicly and said he wanted to make the 1 percent rate permanent.

"I didn't like the tone of the discussion," Shannon said bluntly. "That's why I weighed in on it. I didn't like the idea that we have bureaucrats out there trying to find more ways to raise taxes on businesses in Oklahoma so that we can fund more government services."

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman said the Legislature has and will continue to be a supporter of the energy industry.

"At the same time, we do have responsibilities to educate our kids and make sure they're prepared for the workforce and the demands that the oil and gas industry expects from people getting out of college," said Bingman, an oil and gas company executive. "Our roads, our infrastructure, our capital needs are great.

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