Back in 2014, Harold Hamm, Larry Nichols, and Doug Lawler instructed the elected officials they control to lower Oklahoma’s gross production taxes on oil and gas wells to 2%, as opposed to the 7% rate they were traditionally charged. The trio did this because they’re our oil industry overlords and know what’s best for their corporations and out-of-state shareholders.
When their plan was initially released and promoted in The Oklahoman, only two people seemed to publicly come out against it – Patrick Riley and George Kaiser. Here’s what I said when the plan was announced:
Boy, we sure are lucky to have a trio of nice businessman available to come up with a “simpler,” “permanent” and “totally fair” taxation plan for their own industry. Obviously, these guys and their for-profit companies that have earned billions of dollars in revenue by draining Oklahoma resources know the best way they should be taxed. It’s why we let car dealers determine motor vehicle excise taxes, give bars the power to set liquor taxes, and let rich Republicans lower the top income tax rate.
Mr. Kaiser had similar thoughts:
“I have lived here for more than two-thirds of the life of the state. I see what’s happening to the state,” said Kaiser, owner of Tulsa-based Kaiser-Francis Oil Co. “Something has to give. I’m prepared to pay my fair share to the state of Oklahoma.”
Kaiser said he would like to see oil and gas companies — including his — pay 7 percent in gross production taxes.
Considering George Kaiser is an ultra-successful businessman and philanthropist who has made billions in banking and oil, you’d think our elected officials in the GOP would have paid attention to what he said, realized the 2% production tax only benefited oil and gas companies, and raised the rate to at least regional averages.
As we all know, that didn’t happen. Unfortunately, Kaiser is not a right-wing Christian moralist who religiously follows a flawed anti-tax,anti-government ideology, so most lawmakers didn’t really care about his warnings or concerns. The 2% tax passed overwhelmingly, and now Oklahoma finds itself in a perpetual budget crisis partly because we under-tax our most valuable resource.
As a result, George Kaiser is once again trying to use old-school tactics of truth, honesty and reason to let people know the 2% gross productions tax is a really bad idea. Check out this editorial he wrote for The Tulsa World on Sunday. I think all your liberal friends have already shared it on Facebook: