It’s been a few days since my last update. I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around everything that has happened. The OEA called the walk-out. The world of teachers were furious (generally speaking).
As teachers across the state are calling shenanigans, parents are picking up the torch. Many have refused to bring their kids to school until education is fully funded. Many are dropping their kids off at school and heading straight to the Capitol to take the place of those teachers going back to the classroom. And many teachers are taking sick leave and continuing the walk out any way. Norman was out on Friday, so I was at the Capitol (despite it being called on Thursday night). Most of the legislators were gone for the weekend (they don’t have session on Fridays and those who live farther away like to sleep in their own beds). Rep. Mickey Dollens came to visit our group at one point to thank us for being awesome, remind us that we’re making a difference, and make sure we’ll be back Monday.
Norman is back at school on Monday.
I will not be at school on Monday. So, yes, Mickey, I will see you then.
Sen. Jon Sparks was there and took the time to speak with us about all kinds of things. I learned something new – I now fully and completely understand the difference between Wind paying Ad Valorem tax and Oil and Gas paying Gross Production Tax. I’ll explain that at the end of this post for those who want to know.
Another really important thing that happened Friday was the end of the filing period. McCall and Echols both now have an opponent and Bobby Cleveland has, like, seven. Several chose not to run for reelection:
Roger Ford (Aw, sad!)
Cory Williams (running for a different office)
Far too many are running unopposed. Although some of those are a good thing (Emily Virgin!!!).
I do not have a primary, which is awesome. That means I can concentrate on the general election in November.
I feel very strongly about going back to the Capitol on Monday for a few reasons. First, we promised at the end of session Thursday that we’d be back. I keep my promises. Second, they thought we’d give up, and if they’re watching OEA, they think we have. I have to prove them wrong. Lastly, and most importantly, the theory is that some behavior will change due to the fact that some legislators are opposed for the first time and maybe they should start being accountable for their choices.
I’m not holding my breath.
Friday night, Hope and I, with Janis, went to the Zoo for an overnight Girl Scout event. It was fun! We saw animals in the light of a red flashlight, got to pet a chinchilla, slept on a really hard floor in Janis’ sleeping bags while listening to the girls shush the parents when they got the giggles. It was clear that Hope still needed to use the sleep in the morning when she had a major fit about a cinnamon roll – and not because she wasn’t allowed to have one…
We went home, took a nap, and went to family day, which this time was interrupted by my making some awkward phone calls asking people I haven’t spoken to in five years for donations to my campaign (I hate that part). (Side note: If anyone would like to donate to my campaign, every little bit helps! We can Bernie this thing and go $5 at a time if need be! See my homepage at reneejerden.com to donate) Also, by Hope cashing in her “Free Sword Fight Lesson” with my soon-to-be nephew-in-law, Matt. He has been keeping two foam swords in his car at all times for this very moment. It was brilliant!
Sunday has been a day of phone calls, research, paperwork, and a little door knocking. I basically introduced myself to my neighborhood and let everyone that actually answered the door know that I’m running for State Senate. It was just as awkward as when we were trying to sell Girl Scout cookies. I actually got a better response to my candidacy, which is super weird.
People like me better than Girl Scout cookies!? That’s…just……wrong?
WIND VS OIL AND GAS
When you talk about property tax, we can talk about things that move or can be moved, like cars or computers, and we can talk about things that aren’t usually moved, like houses. When we talk about Ad Valorem taxes, we’re talking about property taxes on the latter category: property that doesn’t get moved and improvements on said property.
When you’re paying Ad Valorem, you know the value of the land and you know the value of what you put on that land. You pay those taxes on a specific amount that is known. The Wind industry knows the value of what they’re putting on the land – the turbines, the concrete they put in the ground for said turbines, the blades, etc. They can’t pay a tax on the wind because the wind is not something that can be valued. The wind industry pays these taxes on these turbines and such for every year for about 40 years (the average life of a wind turbine).
Oil knows how much the land is worth and how much the pipes are and other such equipment that they use to “improve” the land with, but there’s no way of knowing the value of the oil in the ground. We may have the technology now to know that there is oil down there, but not how much or the value of said oil. We have to wait until it’s out of the ground before we can slap a number on it. That brings us to the Gross Production Tax (GPT), also known as the severance tax, because it is paid when the oil is severed from the ground. It is basically the property tax AS REALIZED. And it’s only paid when it’s severed from the ground – it’s not a recurring tax.
So, Wind pays Ad Valorem because it knows the value of the land “improvements”. Oil and Gas pay GPT because it doesn’t know the value of the oil until it’s out of the ground. Now, many have asked what the comparison is between the amount of dollars paid by Wind vs Oil. I don’t have that answer for you, but my work wife, Jessica Gwinner, is working on that. I will tell you another big detail that makes people nervous, though.
Ad Valorem goes to local, GPT goes to state. People think that Wind should be paying into the state’s General Revenue Fund just like Oil. Fair’s fair, right? BUT – When a school has a wind farm providing Ad Valorem taxes to them, they are taken off the school funding formula, which opens up more of the General Revenue Fund for the schools that are still on the formula.
Let me break it down:
School A and School B both get $500 from the state’s GR fund. School A’s town gets a wind farm. Now School A is getting $1000 from Wind and is taken off the formula.
WAIT! That’s not fair! Now School B is getting HALF of School A.
Well, the way it’s SUPPOSED to work is that $500 School A USED TO get from GR is now free to be given to School B. School A is getting $1000 from Wind off formula and School B is getting $1000 from GR on formula.
What’s actually happening? Good question – ask your legislators. Maybe they can explain why funding still sucks. They did finally admit to supplanting general revenue with lottery money, after all.