The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

January 13, 2014

Despite revenue dip, Okla. speaker pushes tax cuts



"All that needs to be discussed, and we'll see what happens."

Oil and gas industry leaders were quick to endorse Shannon's proposal.

"With increased drilling across the country, it is imperative Oklahoma remains competitive for investment dollars," Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association President Mike Terry said in a statement.

Blu Hulsey, vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs for Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources, said that while the company supports the speaker's proposal, they also expect to continue negotiations with the governor and legislative leaders over the tax rate.

"We understand the process. We understand we're just at the beginning," Hulsey said. "We will always be willing to talk to the governor and legislative leaders ... and we understand that they're all supportive of our industry."

When the various tax incentives offered by the state are factored into the equation, Oklahoma's effective tax rate on unconventional oil wells, like those that are drilled horizontally, is about 3.3 percent, according to an August study by Headwaters Economics, a Montana-based nonprofit research group. The study showed that Oklahoma's rate was the lowest of seven peers, including Wyoming (11.7 percent), North Dakota (11.5 percent), Montana (7.5 percent), New Mexico (6.8 percent), Texas (6.7 percent), and Colorado (5.7 percent).

Shannon's decision to stake out a position of making the 1 percent rate permanent clearly has rankled some legislators, who suggest Shannon seems to be putting politics ahead of good public policy.

"Whether it's for a bigger, higher office or just the next election, most of the decisions made in the last couple of years have been made with politics in mind," said House Democratic Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City. "If Republican leadership thinks that improving public schools and ensuring public safety is growing government, then I think they need to take a better look at what the role of state government is."

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