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Oil industry plays outsized role in Oklahoma budget negotiations

Jeff Raymond
Oklahoma Watch

Amid the budget talks during Oklahoma’s recently concluded legislative session, one of the major sticking points revolved around how much to raise the production tax on oil and gas companies.

As Oklahoma Watch notes, while Oklahoma is theoretically a two-party system, it often seems as though there’s a third party in the room during important economic discussions. That third party is the oil industry.

Oil and gas companies paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars, almost all of it to Oklahoma Republicans over the past couple of years, in order to prevent a heavy increase in taxes. And the investment was rewarded.

In the end, GOP lawmakers balked at Democratic demands for an oil tax increase to five percent.

The four percent they settled for instead will still bring in a projected $95 million next year. But in a state with a $900 million budget gap, that may be small comfort.