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Sparks: Don’t send Okla. jobs to Texas

March 21, 2014

The Journal Record: Sparks: Don’t send Okla. jobs to Texas

Democrat or Republican, all Oklahomans know one thing – our state’s economy depends on oil and natural gas.

The oil and natural gas industry is the largest single source of tax revenue in the state, providing more than 22 percent of all state taxes. Over the past decade, jobs in the oil and natural gas industry have doubled.

State per capita income is now at 96 percent of the U.S. average, compared to just 85 percent 10 years ago. And the industry is creating wealth in rural areas, with the net worth of farm households increasing by more than $100,000 in recent years.

In light of these facts, it’s bewildering that some of Oklahoma’s most high-profile elected officials are trying to raise taxes on oil and gas under the pretense that the industry needs to pay its fair share.

What’s fair? The fact that the oil and natural gas industry currently pays nearly $1 out of every $4 of state revenue? Or that the industry generously gave the state a $300 million interest-free loan back in 2010? Or that this industry single-handedly saved Oklahoma from a recession suffered by nearly every other state in the nation?

With current annual drilling expenditures already at $12 billion in Oklahoma, eliminating the horizontal drilling tax incentive as proposed by a small faction at the state Capitol would trigger a series of negative economic outcomes. Potential effects of raising taxes include a decline in oil and gas production, reduced royalty owner income, and a loss of jobs to neighboring states.

As a Democrat who appreciates all the oil and natural gas industry has done for Oklahoma, I’d like to call upon our leaders to focus on growing the state’s most vital industry, not thwarting it. Don’t send Oklahoma jobs to Texas.

 

State Sen. John Sparks is a Democrat from Norman representing District 16.

 

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