Oklahoma Considers Tax Increases to Fill $215 Million Budget Hole

State lawmakers let a potential legislation package comprised of a series of sales taxes simmer over the weekend before planning to officially vote on it later this week.

Sen. Frank Simpson (R-Springer) said representatives met Thursday evening to mull over the tax proposals of the package, which includes a rise in Gross Production Tax to five percent and removal of tax exemptions on services including car washes and detailing, pool cleaning and lawn services.

A six cent increase per gallon in gas is also included, as well as the $1.50-per-pack tax on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.

Simpson said a potential benefit in addition to plugging the $250 million budget deficit would be more revenue on a local level for cities like Ardmore, providing a way for cities to benefit from legislation passed at a state level.

"The cost of a car wash really isn't that much anyway," Simpson said. "This will be a chance for cities to collect money, too."

Simpson originally described the package as a compromise, but attributes many of the packages details to Governor Mary Fallin and the Democrats.

"I wouldn't really call it a compromise package. My opinion is that it's a Democrat and Governor Fallin package," Simpson said. "It reflects most items they wanted during the regular

session."

Gathering a three-fourths majority vote in the House of Representatives will prove difficult, Simpson said. He anticipates a number of Republican lawmakers to fight the package, and even if the package were to see the light of day outside of the House, Simpson and his fellow senators have doubt it will pass in the Senate.

"As it's currently structured, I don't think it's going to pass," Simpson said. "I think we can probably work on some aspects of the package. I think it's going to be hard even in the House to get three-quarters."

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