Restore Oklahoma Now, Inc.
Oct. 26, 2017
Contact: Mickey Thompson
Restore Oklahoma Now, Inc.
Small oil producers, state educators push for
Gross Production Tax ballot initiative
Measure would call for 7 percent GPT, teacher pay increase
OKLAHOMA CITY – An organization representing small independent oil producers, educators and concerned Oklahomans is drafting language for a state ballot initiative with the dual purpose of restoring the state gross production tax to a flat rate of 7 percent and addressing the state’s teacher crisis.
Restore Oklahoma Now, Inc., is a newly formed nonprofit that has engaged a law firm and is working to raise $3 million with the goal of getting a state question on the general election ballot in November 2018. Organizers of the group have hired Mickey Thompson, former president of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA) and long-time oil industry spokesperson, to head up the campaign.
The focus of the initiative petition will be two-fold, said Mike Cantrell, chairman of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance (OEPA), a group of small, independent oil producers who have advocated for a restoration of the gross production tax for more than a year and one of the organizational leaders of the new coalition.
“We think it’s a matter of fairness to Oklahomans that all oil and natural gas production be taxed at a flat and competitive – with other states – rate that helps sustain essential state services, especially addressing our teacher crisis and teacher pay. Our petition will restore the historical 7 percent GPT immediately on all wells, in other words repealing all the current tiers of state oil and natural gas production tax,” Cantrell, an Ada oilman, said.
“Further, we will lock-box the additional proceeds from this restoration for teacher pay and for rehiring thousands of teachers to address the ongoing shortage of qualified teachers.”
Thompson said the current discussions at the ongoing legislative special session are a mere bandage on the state’s budget crisis.
“The idea this legislature would hike the GPT only on new wells from 2 percent to 4 percent will generate less than $20 million a year to the state,” he said. “It doesn’t scratch the surface of the need to address the education crisis. Our petition will repeal all the special GPT tiers immediately. Our petition will truly level the playing field, 7 percent on all production, period.”
Thompson said the Oklahoma Tax Commission has stated that a flat, 7 percent GPT last year would have generated about $725 million for the state, which is $440 million more than was collected under the four-tiered system now in place.
“It’s a shame that concerned citizens must go to the people to address the state’s various crises,” Thompson said. “Our legislature has failed to take appropriate action. We feel there is no other option.”
Cantrell said response to early fundraising for Restore Oklahoma Now, Inc., has been encouraging.
“We have commitments of $700,000 after one week. We think as other groups and individuals join our coalition, we will reach our goal. Obviously, with this much money at stake, we expect strong opposition from those companies who have enjoyed this special tax break for several years,” he said.