Oklahoma budget fix again falls short in House - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Oklahoma budget fix again falls short in House

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A plan to hike taxes on tobacco, alcohol, fuel and energy production in order to plug a hole in Oklahoma's budget and to stabilize state spending fell five votes short in the House amid bipartisan opposition.

The full House voted 71-27 on Wednesday for the bill. A total of 76 votes were needed to pass a revenue-raising measure out of the House. Both Republicans and Democrats opposed it.

The bill would have generated $140 million in funding to help plug a hole in the current budget. It would ultimately generate about $450 million annually to help pay for a $3,000 pay raise for teachers, a $1,000 boost for state workers.

Agencies like the Department of Mental Health have until December 1 to turn in next year's budget plan. But since lawmakers wont be in session again until February, the latest decision could be detrimental.

The bill on the House floor Wednesday was identical to one introduced on Monday. It proposes a $1.50 additional sales tax on cigarettes; increases the tax on fuel and 3.2 beer; and increases the gross production tax from 2 to 4 percent.

State Rep. Pat Ownbey (R-District 48), who voted for House Bill 1054X, expressed disappointment in his fellow lawmakers. "I expect we will be in special session for at least another several days to get the cuts started, and to try to plug in some revenue in some areas where we can," he said.

On Tuesday, Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill that will give $23 million to mental health services from Oklahoma's "rainy day" fund. But service providers say they still need more than $50 million to maintain outpatient services.

KTEN's McKenna Eubank reported from Ardmore. The Associated Press in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

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