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Step Up Plan Stumbles And Falls In Crucial House Vote

Feb 13, 2018

Lawmakers are right back where they started after a much-anticipated vote to pass one of the largest tax increases in state history fell short in the state House.

Despite business luminaries and hundreds of educators filling the Capitol in support of the Step Up Oklahoma Plan, the revenue-raising proposal only received 63 votes, which was 13 votes shy of passing the constitutionally required three-fourths threshold for revenue-raising bills.

Voting no was a mixed group of anti-tax Republicans and Democrats, who disagreed with how new income taxes were distributed and claimed the gross production tax rate on oil and gas production was too low.

The Legislature now appears without a plan to find new revenue to pass a teacher pay raise plan and fill a hole in the current year’s budget and shore up next year’s budget. Here’s a look through social media at how they got here and what’s next after a marathon day at the Capitol.

The Plan

The Step Up Oklahoma plan, a budget proposal crafted by business leaders and endorsed by Gov. Mary Fallin, has been in the works for two months.

The plan gradually drew support from advocacy groups around the state. Supporters billed it as the best revenue package that could pass the Legislature. But, just a week after lawmakers gaveled in for the 2018 regular session, legislative leaders decided to put it to a crucial test — getting 76 votes in the 101-member chamber.

Building Support

One of the biggest crowds in recent memory filled the Capitol ahead of the vote as education supporters and others who backed Step Up Oklahoma put pressure on lawmakers to pass the plan.

Other Options

Support for the proposal, however, was far from unanimous. Leading the charge were anti-tax groups and wind-energy advocates who urged lawmakers to look for other ways to raise revenue.

The Debate

After much anticipation, lawmakers finally got to have their say when debate on the bill began. Members of both parties ratcheted up the rhetoric as they made their case why it should pass or die.

The Open Vote

Red lights lit up quickly on the House of Representative’s vote board as many lawmakers quickly cast their no votes seconds after debate ended.

The proposal appeared headed for a quick demise as the vote tally soon went to 61-35 — far short of the margin needed to pass. But Republican leaders, hoping to convince enough lawmakers to switch their votes, left the vote open for hours.

Few lawmakers ended up changing their votes as the measure headed toward defeat.

The Reaction and Aftermath

The Legislature ended its daylong session Monday without a clear picture of what is next to come. Although House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said there will be no other revenue packages considered this session, Democrats said they are willing to return to the negotiating table to find a compromise.

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism on important public-policy issues facing the state. More Oklahoma Watch content can be found at www.oklahomawatch.org.