Joe Wetz | State Impact NPR
The deadline to fund state government is rapidly approaching, and legislators are struggling to bridge a $1.3 billion budget gap. One idea is to end a tax rebate for unprofitable oil and gas wells, but small oil and gas producers say their safety net shouldn’t be used to plug the state’s budget hole.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives is in session, and Darlene Wallace is blocking the ornate entrance to the main floor. She’s an obstacle, an oil producer — and she’s clutching a clipboard with the names of lawmakers.
She wants a word with them.
“I think we had some success speaking with the different representatives about our issue,” she says, “and some of them will see it as a tax increase.”
Wallace is talking about Senate Bill 1577, which would eliminate a tax rebate for “economically at-risk” oil and gas wells. The legislation was authored by Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman. He’s an oilman himself, not the usual suspect for writing a bill that lets the state keep tax money from the pockets of small oil companies, which shows the scale of the state’s budget problems.