I went off the grid for a bit this weekend for some self-care and family time. During that time, however, I didn’t really stop working. I have slowly and steadily been working on the transcription of an interview with Jon Echols. If you recall, I spent a good amount of time waiting outside his office on Thursday and finally got in to speak with him, along with a large group of teachers. Most of them seemed to be from Jenks. The way this interview is structured – everything from Echols is listed next to “A:” for answer and is typed word-for-word based on the audio recording. I have taken the liberty to cut down excessive stuttering and word fillers because they can distract from the message. Anything next to “Q:” for question or “Comment:” is a teacher in the room. Sometimes myself and sometimes not. I didn’t know anyone’s names, so I can’t give them credit. As such, I also took the liberty of summarizing their questions when able. If you are not sure of the validity of this transcription, feel free to contact me for the audio file.
I’ve posted this four-part interview on Facebook as I have worked on transcribing it. Here it is in its entirety. For clarification, this interview took place on Thursday, April 5th 2018 at the Oklahoma State Capitol in Jon Echols’ office.
Q: Regarding Hotel/Motel loss discrepancy?
A: We’re not done…first off, we can pass a budget right now that fully funds the education budget we passed and does not cut core services. There was growth revenue this year, so it’s not a zero-sum game. If we pass no revenue… like a flat budget, then there would be an increased budget because we had additional revenue. Now, there is an issue, because what we wanted to do with 1010 was more than just, frankly, just fund what we did in education, we also wanted to fund some other services. 1010 originally was $20 million to the positive and we did that on purpose, because the goal was to both fund the 19.7% increase in the education budget, but also have a few more dollars to put in DOC, or to put in healthcare authority, or to put in these other core services that really, really needed it.
Yes, the lion’s share was education because education was the house that was on fire. I mean, it was, you’ve been underfunded to the tune of – you’ve been cut to the tune of a billion dollars over the last ten years. That was a big deal, and that’s where the lion’s share went. The real problem with hotel/motel being out of 1010 – and by the way, hotel/motel repealer has not been heard in the Senate, so they could always just say they’re not gonna repeal it. That’d be cool, if you’re talking to your Senators. They could always just say they’re not going to repeal it; we have that $40.6 million, but we would like to replace it, so the second part of your question, how we’re going to replace it.
We would like to replace it, not because we have to have it to replace – I think there’s an idea that if we would replace that $40 million, we’re at square one, now – zero – and that’s not true. If we’re at another $40 million, we’re at an increase when the budget comes out that we’re gonna be funding, either it’s education or it’s DOC, or it’s Healthcare Authority, or it’s state employee pay raises, it’s – we’re hearing loud and clear from teachers, it wouldn’t be an additional teacher pay raise, but it could be in the formula. It could be in support staff. It could be our DOC – we talked about, they need it – so three things to expect, and one of them we’re gonna hear today on the House floor, and that is the third-party vendor on Amazon.
If you guys have been here for Day Three, I’m sure you know what Third Party Vendor on Amazon is. $20 million – I talked to Leader Kouplen, who’s the leader of the minority party. He knows it’s coming. We are gonna hear that in Special Session today. I stayed late last night. We worked our votes. I believe the minority party is going to be supportive after my conversation with Leader Kouplen. I hope it’s gonna be a good, strong, bipartisan measure we can send – we passed a really big bipartisan bill. We’re real partisan at the moment, that was the other talk I had with Leader Kouplen that I’m hoping we get past that and back to where we were.
We had the most non-partisan week of my life in six years. The spotlight has created some old partisan divisions, that for this body to function, we’re gonna have to unwind those, which I think we can. I’m told – so I can guarantee – that’s why I check my text messages when people show up, to make sure the Speaker, somebody doesn’t text me while I’m in here, that something changed.
So I can guarantee, when I last met with the Speaker and Kouplen, that’s what’s happening. We’re hearing that in Special Session today at 3:00. I was told, and Superintendent Hoffmeister was here earlier, and she said she’s working on it, that the Senate is going to hear Ball and Dice today. That’s what I was told…If that happens, that’s $42 million and the hotel/motel money that we lost is completely replaced.
Q: Just with Ball and Dice?
A: No with Ball and Dice AND what we call Third Party Vendor on Amazon, and we have met with Amazon. We’re not asking permission to do it, but they’re not gonna fight it. They’re not gonna sue on it. They’re gonna be okay. If those two things happen, then you’re fully replaced, but that’s not just you’re at square zero, so to speak, or square one. That’s additional – that’s even more money. I mean, we’re gonna have – my budget chairman just told me we are gonna have a budget that, right now, if we do pass – and he’s not including Ball and Dice – if we do pass Amazon, an $800 million increased budget. That’s a significantly increased budget. Not only – it’s $760m, if you take – or $780m if you take that out, so that’s not just the $480 million dollars that went into education. There’s gonna be other money going into core services this year because of the changes that were made, and if that additional revenue is passed – so let’s say that what we pass – it was passed because you guys are here. I’m telling you, I would not have passed additional revenue but for that happening.
Q: Assertion that 1010 was already underfunded by $75 million?
A: I don’t even understand it. So, tell me – it’s not true, the quick answer is it’s not true, but the second is, I don’t understand how they get their numbers. What are they -?
Q: Cigarette and gas taxes only for one year?
A: That is both true. So let me ask you guys a question, ‘cause I love doing this, but – some of you have been in here before, so you know what I’m gonna say – How many of you guys were told gas tax – take gas tax – is only for one year?
Hands raise all around.
Q: It goes into general fund for the first year, then it goes to Transportation after that.
A: Transportation second year, yeah you were told that. If it was a member that told you – and by the way, Republicans are messing this up, too – if they didn’t tell you about HB 1014xx, which you could all – I mean, a lot of you guys don’t know me, but trust, but verify. Go look it up yourself. HB 1014xx, double special session bill – that same year Transportation dollars go into Roads and Bridges, it takes an equal amount of income tax money that is dedicated to Roads and Bridges and moves it into the General Fund.
Q: So it’s just moving money around?
A: That’s all it is. You are 1`00% – there is nothing to worry about with the gas tax, absolutely positively nothing, and the reason it goes into the General Fund next year deals with – this year as opposed to next year – deals with the methodology of collections. On top of that, it increases substantially the next year, so a General Revenue measure cannot go into effect till 90 days after it’s signed by the governor. So, we’re not gonna get a full year worth of collections out of the 3 cents gas tax/6 cents diesel. By the way, which is my least favorite part of the bill. I don’t mind diesel. I can’t stand gas tax, been open about that. Don’t like the gas tax, but I voted for it ‘cause the house is on fire.
So, not only is it fully funded, the amount that’s coming over to you is increased next year ‘cause you have 12 months of collections versus 9 months, and that’s why all these numbers – now cigarette tax, that is true. Cigarette tax is moving – there’s about $80 million we’re taking from the cigarette tax and it is being moved from the General Fund this year to Healthcare next year, and there’s lots of reasons for that, not the least of which is cigarette tax is more palatable if it goes to Healthcare from a taxation perspective, and just from a policy perspective, it’s more palatable. That’s how you justify cigarette tax, ‘cause you have upper Healthcare costs. Frankly, gas tax needs to go to Roads and Bridges and income tax needs to go to GR. It’s bad policy – I know why my predecessors did that about 20 years ago, but it’s bad policy to put income tax to Roads. You need to put gas tax to Roads, ‘cause as it goes up, road utilization goes up. As it goes down, road utilization goes down, and it’s just a more stable funding stream.
On the cigarette side, that’s gonna be made up in two ways:
It is going to be made up by growth revenue. We’re looking at between $500 and $800 million worth of growth revenue, and you don’t have to trust me. I’ll get the information from the same place I’m gonna send you: Ken Miller’s Twitter. And it should be sad that that’s where I get my information, but it is. We have (unintelligible) fiscal staff and if you go over to Ken Miller’s Twitter, you’re gonna get that information there. That’s where it comes from, and you’re gonna see the growth revenue.
The other place you could take it from – nightmare scenario – the economy crashes next month. We don’t have record collections, which we’ve had for 16 straight months, every month’s been up. We could move some money around from Healthcare, but we don’t think that’s what’s gonna happen, and – no economist thinks that’s what’s gonna happen. Nobody does. There are politicians that are invested in scaring you that say that’s gonna happen, but no – you’re gonna look at the information for yourself and no sane thinking person that’s gonna happen when you see it. There’s gonna be plenty of growth revenue there to fund that.
The real issue we have is on moving forward – so if I think all the money’s there right now to do all this, then why would I go – ‘cause I’m going to – why am I about to go vote for a Third Party Seller? Because I’ve campaigned on, and I’ve promised that this is not the end. I’ve campaigned on a promise that we’re not done, and one of the things I’m hearing from educators, and I’m gonna shut up here in a second and listen to you guys, ‘cause I like listening to you better, is that they don’t trust the Legislature. I’m in the Legislature and I don’t trust the Legislature. Think about how many caveats I just gave you to what the Senate’s gonna do. I’ve been told they’re going to “hopefully.” I can’t control that. The governor looked me in my eye and told me she was gonna sign a budget that she vetoed. I don’t care that she vetoed it. I just would have done something else if she’d have told me she was gonna veto it. So I get that. So we feel like one of the things that has to happen for there to be more trust is there needs to be some steps this session – not special, this session – that show it’s not the end, to show there’s a level of seriousness here, but also we need to be honest with you and say we’re not gonna be able to fix a billion dollars worth of shortfalls in one year.
Q: Making deals with votes instead of doing what constituents want you to do.
A: Absolutely, so capital gains, let’s talk about capital gains. So, to talk about capital gains, you’ve got to go all the way back to Step Up… On capital gains, when we originally had Step Up, which was $200 million more than HB 1010. If Step Up would have passed, you guys would be teaching in school right now. That was $800 million. Ironically, they’re calling 1010 the largest tax increase in history. That’s actually not true. Cuz I’m big on facts. People can dislike me but nobody can say I’m dishonest or gave bad information. I give them stuff they don’t want to hear lots of times, but that’s part of this office. If Step Up would have passed, nobody would be here. It’s an extra $200 million.
Step Up did not pass, and I voted for it, and I believe the minority party, the leadership was negotiating in good faith. It didn’t pass because they’re more progressive. Their members in more progressive districts had to have 5% and I believe they were legitimate, because I believe, after talking with minority party leadership, that in the more progressive districts, if you got less than 5%, you would be viewed as capitulating on climate change. And in the more progressive districts, capitulating on climate change would be like running as a pro-choice candidate in House District 90 – just ain’t gonna happen. It is a litmus test. After you’ve got that, then we’ll see where you go, and everybody’s district’s different. We’re a representative democracy, so that’s why it didn’t pass. I have the opposite problem in my caucus. I have western Oklahoma and more affluent district Republicans that believe like they’re voting their constituency that didn’t want to go to 5 and were legit, and that was – so if you look back at my history of what I was trying to do is always just trying to get a deal.
I’ve already bent a lot. Like I said, I voted for the gas tax several times and I hate the gas tax. I went on TV saying I hate the gas tax, and I’m crystal clear I don’t like, but I voted for it lots of times because we’ve got to to do something. So I started messaging two things: 4.5% because I knew this was coming – I’ve known this was coming since Step Up failed, so I thought we’re all gonna come over and we’re gonna say, “beat everyone to submission on 4.5% and let’s go pass a deal”. And then I was messaging capital gains, so much so that if you look, I said I was gonna pass capital gains and pay for a $3,000 teacher pay raise. And I moved over to the floor the capital gains bill and the itemized deduction bill and I stuck ‘em together over there and was messaging if we’re not gonna get a 76 vote measure – and with telling my members who don’t want to vote on capital gains, probably some of the same members that don’t want to vote on capital gains – that this is what you’re gonna have to vote on. You’re not gonna get to do nothing, ‘cause the buck – in my opinion the buck stops at the Republican Party.
If we don’t get a deal, the buck stops with us. Now, what we then did at that point is that two things changed. The teacher strike was coming, and that was one of my hammers, and then, frankly, capital gains was my other hammer. Capital gains is a 51 vote measure, and I was capable of telling members if you don’t do this, you’re gonna have to vote on capital gains. Now, when we struck the deal with the minority party – then we struck the deal with the minority party.
They brought me the original signed agreement. Mark McBride, I think Forrest Bennett, I think Mark Meredith another one, they brought me a signed agreement with everything in the deal. It had 5% and capital gains. I just told Mark, this is another poison pill. I’m sick of voting on stuff that doesn’t happen. I’m sick of going to my constituents and saying, “I really am for you, look at my voting record. Oh, by the way, you get squat.” And that was a recipe for failure.
So I have the second signed deal when they went back and said to the minority party, “You want 5% or you want capital gains?” And they said we’ve gotta have 5%. That’s the litmus test. We said, ‘Take your pick. We’ll put either one.” I would have chosen 5% ‘cause it’s double the money, so I don’t blame them. That was a good – the right call. They wanted 5% more than capital gains. Now, they wanted capital gains, just in cutting the deal, that’s what they wanted. And the difference is the 51 versus the 76.
Then I went to my members and said, “Hey, you’ve got an option. You’re not 5%, I get it. If I put 5%, you’re gonna go on the board and vote no and say you’ve seen the light and you’re anti-tax, and all that other good stuff and you’re gonna get reelected in your district. But if you do that, I’m gonna put capital gains on the floor. So then you’re gonna have to vote on that, and then you’re gonna have to go tell teachers -” ‘cause 5%, these guys had an out – these guys and girls had an out. At capital gains, they didn’t, so I absolutely, yes.
I cut a deal because I had an option. I could pass capital gains at $30 million and $120 million the next year – I’m gonna tell you why that’s not right either, here in a second – or I could pass $450 million in HB 1010. And I absolutely chose $450 million in HB 1010, and the truth is I’d make the choice again. I would.
There’s another issue with capital gains as you sit here right now, which is why rushing legislation is a bad idea. How many of you guys have talked to members and said, “Well, we need an ag exemption to capital gains,”? Everybody hears that, right? I’m the only one that’s talked to Tony Mastin. We don’t have a score with an ag exemption to capital gains. The $30 million and $120m you’ve been quoted – ‘cause I know, that comes from me ‘cause I called Tony. It’s $30 million year one, $120m year two, but I called him again – he’s the head of the tax commission – that’s full capital gains. So I called him last night and says, “Have you ran what it would be with the ag exemption so I at least know the numbers.” So at least I could say, “Hey, we’re not doing capital gains this year, but let me get you way more than $30 million so it should be cool and we can look at it again.
Tony said, “I can’t even do it, and by the way, nobody’s asked.” So when we’re talking about the $30 million this year for capital gains, that could be $30m this year, that could be $20m, that could be $10m, that could be $29m. I mean, I don’t know what it is. We don’t have that number. I can promise you if I score it at $30m, your schools are gonna have a revenue failure, ‘cause you can’t take something out of it and then score it there, and then do it, but I can also tell you I can go on the floor here at 3 and get you $20 million, and I didn’t make the deal on capital gains forever. I mean, that’s not the way these things work, but I did, and I absolutely made the flip and said, “Hey, this is how we get it to that 1010 number.”
And what’s hard about this office – and listen, your job is twenty times harder than mine, so don’t let me cry a river – but what’s hard about this office is you’ve gotta make those calls. I’ll give you another call I made today. We’re gonna go out there and we’re gonna hear – you guys are gonna ask about next revenue, right? I hope, please? Yeah, what are we gonna do next?
Mutters of agreement
Okay, thank you. ‘Cause I’ve got too many members – you need to tell other members I’m messaging more is coming. ‘Cause I’m now hearing from people that some of my members are messaging to you guys that more is not coming, and they need to hear from me, “Yeah-huh. Yeah it is. We’re not done. This is not where we’re going.” And obviously they know I keep my deals, but they also know I’ll put them on bad votes they don’t want to be on if they don’t do it.
So the three things that I think are coming that will be done this session, which, these three together are about double what capital gains is. The Amazon Third-Party Seller, everybody knows about that, Ball and Dice, everybody knows about that, and then one of two things on Wind. Either the one dollar tax per perpetuity, if you guys have heard all this, one dollar tax per perpetuity, or the cap. I could run the cap out of committee today and pass it. That’s why we had JCAB today, to run the cap out of committee. The cap is not the best policy.
The cap is the best policy if – I have a lane, and my lane is to not tell teachers what to do, ever, so if you guys strike for three months, or if you walk out for three months, or if you go back to school tomorrow, that’s not my deal, so I’m never gonna tell you to do anything ever ever ever, and I know members are doing that, and they’re wrong, they shouldn’t do it, I’m sorry. But if my goal was to see movement to take pressure off me, which would make my life a lot easier so I could get less hateful emails, I could have just ran out of committee, no problem, the cut to Wind, brought you $35 million and a cut to Wind, and brought you $20 million in on the floor today, and if the Senate brought you $22 million, and I would have went out and said, “I just raised $70 million in a day. How great are we? This is wonderful.” But if you’re that type of person, you definitely shouldn’t be floor leader, ‘cause you can make bad decisions.
The reason I didn’t do that, and we didn’t have JCAB today, is because that’s more money, what’s better policy is one dollar on Wind because as – I see your Jenks shirt – as Wind goes up, and renewables, Oil and Gas is gonna go down, but Wind – and by the way, I’m pro energy, all energy – but Oil and Gas pays all their money to the General Revenue Fund, which funds things like Healthcare and Education, and DOC, those secondary services [sarcasm]. The stuff we’ve really got to be funding. Wind, on the other hand, pays a ton of money to the local community and not one penny into the General Revenue Fund, and I don’t know if you guys have noticed, there’s not a lot of western Oklahoma schools here, and the ones that are it’s ‘cause they don’t have a Wind Farm. Because there are schools in western Oklahoma that have double the per-pupil funding Jenks does. Because while you guys were getting cut, western Oklahoma was getting increases ‘cause they’re not on the funding formula, so one of the things I’ve fought so hard for – it’s a representative democracy, this is easy for me. All five of my districts are on the formula – but with my dying breath, I fought for the funding for teachers to go on the formula, ‘cause it’s not – and they called it an unfunded mandate. Well, heck, I mean, give Western Heights double the amount of funding and they’ll take all the unfunded mandates I can give them.
We put that in the formula there. That’s better policy and I’m gonna give that another couple of days, and if I can’t strike the deal with the Wind companies who are gonna have to sign off on it, ‘cause if they don’t, I won’t pass it, then eventually we’ll run the cap. Those are the big three.
Q: Don’t we still owe Wind money?
A: Oh my goodness, yes.
Q: So what does that – how is that gonna factor in?
A: We owe Wind – we pay Wind – I’m gonna mess up the number on this – I know what we pay in the Ad valorem, which is – er, no in the zero emission credit, which is $70 million. That’s what we’re gonna pay next year. $70 million, by the way, about 5% of the Wind Industry is an in-country company. Forget Oklahoma company. And I love that foreign investment is coming into the state of Oklahoma. It’s awesome, but we’re transfering central Oklahoma and eastern Oklahoma wealth to western Oklahoma and it’s hard, because if you don’t know that, to the outside world, it looks like you’re anti-renewable, which it would be foolish. We want to be pro renewable.
Boy, I don’t even know the number on the Ad valorem tax credit. When you hear Wind pays all this Ad valorem money, no they don’t. You guys pay all that Ad valorem money, ‘cause we reimburse it through the General Revenue Fund that education gets about 50% of, and I can’t do anything about that.
I ran a bill last year that ended the zero emission credit. It was my bill, and it ended it effective December 31st of this year. If you didn’t have a turbine spinning in the air, you didn’t get the zero emission credit, but I’ve got a decade worth of credits that are already claimed, and it is blatantly unconstitutional to go back in time and say, “You can no longer have your already claimed credits.” I don’t think you can do that, and I don’t we’d hold court, so what we’re talking about doing is a soft cap. This is worst-case scenario. Instead of saying you can have your credits – we say you can have your credits, but you’re saying we’re gonna cap the total amount of free money we’re gonna give away to billion-dollar corporations. The market cap is, say – well, I’m not gonna – I don’t wanna pick on a company. They’re way bigger than oil and gas companies, which is why they’re a little scary.
I got a phone call from the CEO of GE Wind Energy that will make your skin crawl and GE is the largest corporation on planet Earth. This is not a small player, and when I ran that bill, I got one that just ripping me up one side and down the other, and all the things they’re gonna do, and I saved it because I wanted the FBI to find it if they killed me [laughter].
All joking aside, because this is big money. What we’re talking about doing is capping it. The problem with capping it is that’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem. I’m running on long-term solutions. I’ve cast my foot in the ground on it. I doubt anybody in here is even in my district. I mean, everybody comes, but when I talk to my district, and I’m not running for anything else. Don’t know if I wanna run for this in a week, but I definitely don’t want to run for anything else. That’s not a long-term solution, so I can’t sell that to you guys and say, “Hey, this is so great. I’ve capped Wind. I’m gonna get you $35 million next year.” That’s a decreasing funding source ‘cause it’s gonna go away, right?
As opposed to, if we would do – I had a better time in this recession because we had a Rainy Day Fund. In the 80’s, when Penn Square Bank closed, legislators didn’t have a Rainy Day Fund, and those legislators – they didn’t screw everything up. One of the great things they did is they made a Rainy Day Fund. They put a constitutional amendment to create one. What I want to do for future legislators 20 years from now, as oil does this [gesturing low] and Wind does this [gesturing high], I want to give them a long-term funding solution so they can put the two together, because oil’s gonna go down again, and I think when it does, you guys are not gonna start turning off your lights all the time. That’s my guess. And when less oil is being pumped, there’s more of a need for renewables.
Or Amazon, which is in my district, which is the reason we collect, ‘cause they put in some distribution centers. They have a corporate requirement for a certain amount of renewables. Google, which is in Pryor – they have a corporate requirement for a certain amount of renewables, and as Oklahoma becomes a better place to live, and if we continue on this path with education, it will, we’re gonna need more renewables.
Q: Clarifying on Wind
A: I want to do the dollar if we can. It’s a dollar per megawatt hour. Wind sells – I’m an Oklahoma guy, so I understood Oil and Gas. I had to learn Wind. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t understand the business model. I didn’t understand how they work. That’s scary, by the way. You come in as a legislator, and I regulate them and I knew nothing about them. So what I’ve learned – they create energy and they sell it to the southwest power pool, and then they sell that energy on the southwest power pool to, I wanna say five states, but I can’t remember exactly – not just Oklahoma. So what we would do is say, “You owe us one dollar per megawatt hour for every megawatt hour” – I wanna say it’s megawatt. I may be messing up, but whatever the unit is they sell it in. Don’t get hung up on that, ‘cause I may be telling you – I think it’s megawatt. “You owe us one dollar per megawatt hour that you sell to the pool.”
The theory behind that – so I talked to Trotsky, Mr. Trotsky, who is the CEO of OG&E, who is, by the way, been a hero for education, signed on for Step Up, frankly supportive of almost everything. Been supportive of 1010. Not all of Step Up was supportive of 1010, but they were.
He says it will increase the average utility, the average energy user six cents a month, so I absolutely feel like Feed the Children, for one dollar a year, you too can educate a child. It’s a small number, so that would make more sense to me than doing the cap, but if all I can get is the cap, because it’s a 51-vote measure, these are the weird decisions that we make up here. There’s policy decisions among 51-vote measures, and then there’s this elephant in the room of this is a three-quarter-vote and this is a 51-vote measure, you know, 50 plus one, and all of a sudden you have policy decisions not being made based upon the best policy, but policy decisions being made based upon what can pass.
That’s when I go full circle, when I believe the citizens were in a forgiving mood this year. I believe there will be a lot of forgiveness. I’ve lost some voters ‘cause I voted for gas tax. I mean, I haven’t lost them. They’re gone, they’re mad, they let me know they’re mad.
Q: $20 a year made them lose your vote?
A: Oh, they are livid, livid, livid, livid, livid, and they’re even more livid that they cussed me and I’m nice to them. That’s made it worse, but I gotta tell you, though, one out of every two, when I email them back and say, “I agree. I did not like gas tax. I agree. I did not run on raising taxes. Let me give you the facts as to why I did what I did.” I’m telling you, one out of every two, one at a time have been able to say, “Yeah, I get it. I understand. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t just as simple as you stand up and -”
If we didn’t pass the gas tax, the Senate wasn’t passing squat. It’s not just R/D. The Republicans and the Democrats get all the press in the House – like, why can’t we just get along. It’s also rural/urban. It’s also east/west, this end stuff, the House/Senate, and then, frankly, Legislature/Governor, and there’s an awful lot of – and this has brought – the capital gains has brought it to the front, but it feels like that everywhere. I voted for the gas tax. I voted for more revenue, ‘cause if I didn’t vote for the gas tax, the Legislature was not going to – the House – Senate was not gonna pass 1010. They weren’t gonna pass anything. They wanted the gas tax. They believed that was good policy, so I could’ve stood on principle and done nothing, and if I’m gonna do nothing, I’m gonna go home. I don’t want to do this if nothing happens. I don’t need to pull office.
Q: SQ 780 being retroactive – thoughts? The felony/misdemeanor – people in jail – in prison for former felonies which are now misdemeanors.
A: I never even thought of that.
Q: She said that would bring $10 million? Let me look at my – $9.8 million.
A: I’m for it. The people voted to make those misdemeanors, so that seems like an easy vote for legislators.
Q: So why are the people still in prison for those former felonies?
A: ‘Cause you are the first person that has ever said that to me. I’m serious.
Q: It wasn’t my idea, but –
A: That’s why I have these meetings. I swear, nobody had ever – that’s a brilliant idea, though. Do you feel comfortable telling me who the senator was?
A: Okay, yeah, good. You know what? And that’s why it’s good to have new people. Senator Freeman – I guess she goes by Ikley – Senator Ikley-Freeman is brand new and a new way of looking at things, and you have fresh ideas, ‘cause you – it’s easy to get jaded in this building. Everybody fights it, but anyone that says, if you’ve been up here for any length of time, and it doesn’t happen to you – if you don’t fight it daily, it will become cynical too. But, I mean, that’s a cool idea. I don’t know. I don’t know why people haven’t done it. I will email Senator Ikley-Freeman tonight and ask her what her thoughts are on how we could do it. To me, that’s an easy vote. My citizens – and by the way, 788 in my district passed – I have a poll on that. It passed, like, by 60%. I know where my citizens are, so it seems like an easy vote to say, “You guys made these -” and the money saved there, though, would probably be, what I would probably argue for, instead of, though, just taking the cash, is, just in full disclosure, so I have – I don’t have any constituents here, I – you may live in my district.
Yeah, that’s what I thought. Bring ‘em on in [referring to new people coming into the room]. What I would say is what we would probably do is use that to not have to increase the DOC budget. We would probably get those people out of there, ‘cause DOC does not have a constituency, ‘cause they’re bad guys, so nobody talks about them, but after we fix education, DOC is the next house that is on fire. I believe the Feds will take over DOC if we don’t do something. We incarcerate more females than any state in the nation. We’re number two in incarcerating. I have Director Allbaugh telling me he wants to build two new prisons. With all of my heart, I do not believe the Senate – our greatest asset is our people, so I have to believe our greatest asset is our people, and we have the meanest people in the country.
Comment: Education will keep them out of prison.
A: Exactly, and it will lower my Healthcare costs, by the way. It’s gonna lower my DOC costs. It’s also gonna lower my DHS costs.
Q: Hesitation on hearing capital gains tax with ag exemption just that you don’t know how much revenue that would bring?
A: There’s two hesitations. One is I committed that I wouldn’t do it to get the bigger revenue piece. And then, two, there is the secondary issue – let’s say I didn’t make that commitment. You don’t want to hear it today ‘cause we’ve got to figure out how much it’s going to bring. So let’s say I didn’t, but there’s the secondary problem – there’s a path on the exemption. I actually have a whole plan drawn out, I think I’ll unveil when I’ve kept my commitment, for next year, because we’re gonna be able to get more money than what it would bring this year. If we pass those two, we’ll have more money than what it’ll bring next year today. There’s a path where you take out ag, you move to more of a federal system, where instead of going – zero is insanity. I need to be careful when I say that, though. Remember this was voted in by a vote of the people in 2004. It was the people that put the capital gains exemption in there, but I think the people were given a bad choice.
The people got to choose between 5%, which is ordinary income, or zero. That’s an extreme that even the Feds don’t do. The Feds stair step it down, and I think if you stair step it down, you wouldn’t have to exempt that, so you say – it’s ordinary income for this long, and you take the current holding period and say, “It’s 2.5% if you hold it that long, and if you double that and say it’s 1% if you hold it that long,” so you wouldn’t have to take ag out. You’d probably make more money, and it’s right in line with what the federal government does on theirs. That’s how they do their – it’s not zero, but it’s not ordinary income, and that’s why, on policy like that, it’s tough to just rush out there.
I know why the Senate did it. It’s funny. The Senate did it for the same reason I was gonna do it. I’ll message that I was for it, because, again, the house was on fire, and we had delivered nothing. I mean nothing. We had delivered a bunch of broken promises and votes that went down, and I deliver to be able to go to my district and say, “I promise I’m with you. Look at all these votes.” And they got to deliver, “Well that’s great. Squat happened. There’s absolutely nothing.”
So, I don’t think, given the process that we’re in right now, it does make a lot of sense, but the bigger issue is, for me, that that was part of the deal that I made. I mean, it would be the equivalent of me now repealing the gas tax ‘cause I don’t like it. That’d be a game on the Senate. The reason we repealed the hotel/motel, which was insane too, is ‘cause the Senate came to us ahead of time and said, “If you don’t repeal hotel/motel, I’m sending you this bill back.”
I thought, “Holy crap, I moved heaven and earth to get 76 votes. Please don’t send me this bill back.” ‘Cause I don’t think I had 76 votes. After – I don’t think, on anything other than Wind, I’ll have 76 votes again, after Senator Coburn came out and said everyone that voted for revenue is a pinko liberal commie that hates America. Paraphrasing, but not by much.
That cost me some votes. That cost me some members that are not as – not me, ‘cause again, I don’t care. I’m confident that I’ve done what I think is right. I think I’ve done what my district wants, but if I didn’t, I’m okay with that, because I did what I thought was right. Remember, you research me, I ran the CBD Oil bill as a freshman. I was a freshman that wasn’t afraid to be labeled as pro-weed. It wasn’t, but that looked like suicide. Three states in the union had done that, total. We were – actually two, we were three, and one right after us. It was the right thing to do. What was weird is it worked out. It turned out fine, but – there was kids involved.
Frankly, a lot of similarities to these folks, that there are kids involved and there are real people and there are real lives at stake, and it wasn’t – frankly, I didn’t dread the revenue votes. I didn’t lose sleep. I didn’t think about what I was gonna do. I didn’t worry about am I doing the right thing? Is my district gonna be mad? I can get angry emails, guy says, “You so-and-so, you voted for gas tax.” I knew they were coming. It was okay.
Q: So there is no chance of 1086 getting to the floor?
A: No, did you guys just come in?
A: Okay, yeah, so the very long story short is that’s how I got 5%. That’s – I go through the whole spiel. That was the commitment I made in order to get the 5%.
Q: But why’d you make that commitment in the first place?
A: ‘Cause 1086 is worth about $100 million and 1010 is worth $450 million, and I had to choose between $450 million and $100 million, and I told the Democrat Party when we cut the deal that that was it, and I told them they could pick. Do they want 5% in the deal or do they want capital gains in the deal. They very wisely chose 5% because when you’re that Hobson’s choice, it’s $200 million or $30 million this year $120 million next year. Well, that’s not a hard decision. I was faced with an even easier decision. It’s $450 million, which later became $410m, or $30 million this year, $100 million next year, and faced with that decision, that’s the call I made.
Thank you. [to someone leaving the office]
Q: I spoke with McBride yesterday and he already signed a paper that if it did come to the floor, he would say yes.
Q: So there are Republicans who –
A: I agree
Q: – have said that they would say yes if it had a chance to get to the floor.
Q: Why is it either/or?
A: Yeah, so that’s how I – I had members that weren’t gonna vote for 5, and I got their 5 vote by saying I wouldn’t put capital gains on the floor.
Q: Why are they against capital gains?
A: Well, I mean, there are lots of conservative districts that have gone way out on a limb. There are lots of conservatives that have – and have really pushed the edge of the envelope, and in their district, it wouldn’t have been popular. That’s the problem with having a 76-vote majority. When you have a 76-vote majority, you are ruled by tyranny of the minority, and I don’t mean the minority party. I mean the minority in both caucuses. They get to write – I mean, for a large extent – I mean, think about – I could flip it around. It’s like hotel/motel. The same reason I’m not able to do capital gains is the same reason the Senate is gonna repeal hotel/motel, which I think is terrible, but they had two members who were honest about it.
If you look at it, that bill passed by the exact amount of votes it needed. They had two members, if they didn’t commit to repeal hotel/motel, those members were a no, so the Senate was met with the choice – and I know Greg Treat was okay with it, ‘cause I talked to him ahead of time. I mean, he was just fine with it. I’ve got more hotels and motels in my district than any district in the state and I’m okay with it. But when you have the 76-vote minority – you know, what I kept hearing the whole time is compromise, compromise, compromise, compromise, and I do agree with that, but when you compromise, that’s how you end up getting ‘em, and that’s why, at the end of the day – and that’s why – you missed this part – I didn’t say forever.
I didn’t say that forever and ever, as long as I’m floor leader, we’re never gonna hear it, and we have ways to get the $30 million. There are other ways to get it, so it’s not like that’s the only thing that’s coming.
Q: Is the Amazon and the Ball and Dice something that’s going to fund us for years? Because, again, we don’t buy a house when we know we can only pay two years of the mortgage.
A: That’s right.
Q: So how are we gonna be funded for a long time, and not just the year or two in 1010?
A: Everything in 1010 is permanent. I get this question a lot. I had somebody the other day, “Why did 1010 only fund for one year?” It’s all permanent. Everything we’ve done –
Q: Right, but you said some of the money goes to other departments –
A: Only the $80 million in Healthcare. That’s it. Everything else has been fully replaced already. So the only thing in 1010 that is not funded is the $80 million that’s gonna move from Healthcare. That’s easily funded from growth revenue. That’s not difficult. So everything we’ve funded is permanent. That is not at issue.
Q: But the Amazon and Ball and Dice would –
A: Those are permanent, too. As a matter of fact, they’re gonna increase. Amazon and Ball and Dice are gonna get bigger. They’re gonna get – those are gonna be revenue streams that are gonna – they’re gonna grow.
And by the way, I’m not crazy about Ball and Dice. Gambling is not my first choice. I would not have been a – the same thrill people get from the possibility of winning, I get the same knowing the certainty of losing. [unintelligible] I mean, that’s not where I go, but, again, I keep using the analogy, the house is on fire. So I’m willing to do a lot of things that we wouldn’t do, and what I’m hoping is that we’re not raising – ‘cause this is not gonna happen – we’re not raising $500 million every year. I mean, anyone that tells you that the Oklahoma Legislature is gonna raise $500 million every year, that won’t happen, what we’ve already done. But now that we’ve raised something big, you could see continued movement. So you guys know, I think – what I hear from teachers, especially in my area, the fear is, “You guys passed revenue and you’re done.” And frankly, I have some members messaging that. That you guys passed revenue, they’re done.
Comment: Get out of here. Go back to your rooms.
A: And I’m sorry for that. You’re not hearing that from me. You’re about to go hear the exact opposite loud and clear from me, ‘cause I’m about to go put revenue up on the board. I mean, we’re gonna do that at 3:00, we’re gonna vote for it. We’re gonna pass it.
Q: Pass what?
A: The Amazon, yeah, the Amazon – it’s $20 million. We’re gonna go put it on and it’s gonna pass, ‘cause it shows there’s that continual commitment.
Q: Pre-written software?
A: If we put it on the board, I’m gonna vote for it. I’m not crazy about it.
Q: Can you tell us about it?
Q: Are you sure?
A: I can, and I wanna give it down the middle, ‘cause I don’t it, so I want to make sure I give it down the middle. The theory behind prewritten software is that if you go to a store and buy Microsoft Office, you are gonna pay sales tax. If you download Microsoft Office online, you are not gonna to pay sales tax. It makes a lot of sense, right? It sounds cool. You guys know what the largest company, the largest single company is in the state of Oklahoma? It’s not an oil and gas company. It’s a company called Paycom. Paycom is considered the hottest tech stock – I mean, if you look at any national publication, the hottest tech stock in the nation is right here in Oklahoma. And one person should not drive policy. I totally buy that. I’m fine with that. I totally agree, but it’s like, $8 million, and of that $8 million, I bet $6 million of it is gonna be paid by Paycom, and – I don’t know that, but a lot of it is gonna end up paid – ‘cause they sell prewritten software, and he is already only in Oklahoma because he is an Oklahoman and he loves this state.
And by the way, he’s a huge supporter of you guys, ‘cause I’ve met with Chad lots of times, and he’s a guy, when we’ve gotta fight this on the ballot, I think he’ll be supportive of us. And Paycom’s a great company, and they do great things, and they are expanding all over the nation, but especially right here in Oklahoma City, and I don’t think that all revenue is equal. I don’t think all revenue is the same. There’s progressive/regressive, and I would prefer not to have regressive, but we also need to be smart.
Like, on Wind, I’m telling you, I don’t wanna do both ‘cause we’ll kill the goose. If we do both on Wind, what we’ll do is crush the wind industry. And I’m a little nervous – now if it’s on the board, am I gonna vote for it? Honestly? Probably, but man I wish there was – I don’t know that I – now I’m way – I’m not even close to down the middle, but I don’t think it’s smart revenue.
Q: You said it’s only $8 million.
A: About $8 million.
Q: That’s it.
A: It doesn’t seem – if you were packaging that with, like, twelve other things that came out to a significant number, now I think you’re talking. Now I think – ‘cause I’m gonna bend. I’ll bend if I need to. I ran a bill adding sales tax to, like, first storage and armored vehicles, and I wanna say cable, and when it all put together, it came out to a little bit of money – when you put it all together.
I actually – now that we passed some better revenue, I don’t think that’s a good option. I think there are better options. I think we don’t need to get caught up in this tornado when we raise indiscriminately, and we don’t think about what the long – that’s where I am, and this is somebody who’s been a yes, who’s voted for those bills.
Same issue I have, even coming back to capital gains, why, originally, I messaged I would’ve voted for capital gains. Before 1010, I would’ve voted for capital gains. You know that ‘cause there’s stories in The Tulsa World, The Daily Oklahoman, and the news, and messaged it like crazy, because if that was my only option, then we were gonna do – I was willing to do what had to be done in order to make it happen. Now that we have it, I think there’s ways to move forward.
Q: I don’t see how refusing to bring 1086 to the floor is an ethical choice.
Q: Because you’re not allowing our representatives to speak for us on that bill, because we have some representatives that should get one vote in favor or against the bill, and are refusing to allow the bill to come to the floor.
A: Yeah, so part – and I understand your question. So, from the ethical question – ‘cause it’s a tough issue. So, from the ethical question, when I have a member that comes to me and says, “I’m gonna vote no on 1010.” You’re gonna lose $300 million worth of revenue. I had a little girl in here, it was really sweet, her first message to me was, “Am I worth it?” It was really sweet, and I’ve heard that a lot, and I know for a fact that $100 million is a drop in the bucket. I mean, it’s not significant, and I know that I can pass that $100 million if I want to in 10 – and it’s only $100 million – it’s $30 million, and then $120 million the next year, not counting ag – we don’t really know what it is.
So, my choice is I give that little girl $100 million or I give that little girl $400 million, but I can’t give her both.
Q: Break down how many reps said would only vote yes on 1010 if the 1086 was not brought to the floor
A: There were several.
Q: Because I feel like all of the people that are representing us are now not allowed to represent us on this bill because they won’t bring the bill to the floor.
A: I understand, I understand.
Q: So you’re prioritizing a few people, and perhaps the people that they represent, although you did say, “If I think something’s right, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether or not the people that elected me think it’s right, if I feel that it’s right.” So I just feel like our voice –
A: I don’t think I said that. Did I say that? Did I say that?
Q: A little bit earlier, you said, “My supporters think that it’s right, but what it comes down to is whether or not I think it’s right.”
A: Oh, no, yeah, absolutely, yeah, but I think you twisted that very, very twisted what I said.
Q: I don’t mean to, I’m sorry.
A: That – twisted in a very disrespectful way to my constituents, and what I was saying was something totally different. What I was saying is I believe I’m in line with my district, and I believe I’m in line with my district that they wanted a solution, and I continue to believe that. I mean, I believe that they – if I could’ve told them, “You could have $100 million or you could have $400 million,” they would’ve wanted the $400 million, ‘cause what I hear in my district over and over again is fix the problem. I mean, I’ve heard that once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. Fix the problem. And it’s the same issue I talked about here. I mean, I could make the exact same argument as it relates to, say, the gas tax.
You could say we’re gonna turn around and repeal the gas tax ‘cause there were people that don’t like it. Well, that was the deal when we went in. I mean, if the plan is to have a long-term, stable source, and the plan is to continue on that pattern, you’re gonna have to – as long as we have a 76-vote requirement. As long as we’re gonna have that, which there’s a whole other discussion to be had as to that. Which, I voted to send that to a vote of the people and it stalled in committee.
I understand your ethical issue. I think you’ve gotta go back in time, though, to the ethical conundrum I’m in at that moment. That’s why we have good college ethics classes, ‘cause I understand your perspective. The issue becomes should you be someone that is hard and fast in your principles and says every bill gets a vote? If that’s to the detriment of greater society, ‘cause it would be. If I stood hard and fast to that principle that every bill gets a vote, it would be to the detriment of greater society, ‘cause you’d get the $100 million – the $30 million from 1010, but you’d lose out on the $400m – You’d lose the $400 million, but you would get the $30 million from capital gains.
Or would you say, for the greater good of society, you try to fix common education and you do what it takes to fix common education knowing that that’s a bill you can vote on the next year? From my ethical perspective, that’s a more ethical decision, but I respect your opinion, because I understand that that’s the decision you gotta make every day. Are you hard and fast in the rules and say that this is what you do, or are you bendable? And you say this is the compromises I’m willing to make to get something done?
I believe the problem with this body is lack of compromise. I don’t think too much compromise is the problem in this body, after being here for 16 months. I believe the problem in this body is people like to give great speeches and stand on principle so they make sure they get re-elected, but they are unwilling to lead, and unwilling to make hard choices and do hard things, because they know, I think, at the end of that day, that’s what they were elected to do. So, from my perspective, I think, that’s why I did what I did.
Q: Why does it have to be either/or? Why can’t it be the $400 million and the $30 million?
Q: And why can’t you give our representatives a chance to represent us? I mean, I know, I hear what you’re saying, and I hear you answering her question, but at the end of the day, that’s all we’re asking, is for one chance, just one opportunity to let the people, to speak for us.
A: Yeah, no, I –
Comment: We’re not going to stop coming , and that’s the thing. There’s no end to this.
A: So, is the – well, are you saying – now, wait a minute, that was an interesting statement. Are you saying the walkout is about capital gains or is it about funding education?
Q: It’s about getting money into our classrooms. It’s not about a teacher pay raise –
A: What’s your deal?
Q: – it’s about our students. It’s about investing in the future of this state.
A: For your deal – I hear your passion and I’m with you, so make sure you hear the last part. There are people – and I’m not saying this is you – that have been sold a bill of goods that 1010 is the only money out there. Not 1010 – sorry, the capital gains is the only money out there. They’ve been sold a bill of goods that if you don’t get capital gains, you don’t get anything else.
Comment: I know that is not the only way.
A: Well, we’re gonna go pass, probably more money after we figure out what’s in the ag exemption. I don’t know. Before we hear it on the floor, it’s actually against House rules to hear it on the floor without a solid fiscal statement, so if you were to exempt ag, you’d need to know where you’re going. But we’re about to pass probably what’s in 1010 right now. I mean, right now, today, that’s what’s gonna pass. Now, if this becomes an issue about capital gains, which I don’t think that’s what the walkout’s about.
Q: It’s not an issue about capital gains. It’s an issue that we feel like we’re not being listened to. We feel like our representatives want to represent us there in that gallery and they’re not being able to because – and I’m not trying to put this on you –
A: No, no, you’re okay.
Q: – but you are our floor leader –
A: That’s right, that’s fair.
Q: – and you are that gatekeeper, and I respect your position of authority, sir, I really do, but I do feel like we should have a chance to have our voice be heard.
A: I think that’s fair. I think your passion is clear, and I’m not – I can’t argue with that.
Q: So we – but we will not be represented in that gallery?
A: If representation, to you, is only – if I’m hearing it’s a Hobson’s choice of the only way –
Q: That’s one medium, that’s one way, is 1086.
A: In that one way, I would agree with you –
Q: Okay, so –
A: But, but, if you’re talking about – I guess I would say I would be careful, in general, in the movement, because all of this is going on the ballot in November, and if this breaks down to an R versus D issue, this all will go down. I mean, if this breaks out into a Republican versus Democrat issue, this won’t pass. And it’s not right now. Right now, it’s the state of Oklahoma for education, I mean, the state of Oklahoma for education funding, and you have members that have stood with you continuously, and there haven’t been a lot of litmus tests.
I could argue the same thing – I don’t think Step Up should be a litmus test for who funds education. I don’t think that’s fair. I think somebody that’s been there and wasn’t there on Step Up can still be a supporter of education. I hope the walkout, and the movement – ‘cause the movement is bigger than the walkout. If the walkout is the movement, then it’s gonna go down in November, but I don’t believe that. I believe the movement is even bigger than that, and that you have supporters all over the place.
Q: Can you give us a little context on what you’re talking about with the Coburn deal?
A: Yeah, Senator Coburn has announced he’s gonna get 46,000 signatures and put HB 1010 to a referendum on the ballot, so in November, those of us that have been supportive on both sides of the aisle are gonna have to find a way to rally together and say this is the direction Oklahoma needs to be headed. This is the movement we need to be having, and we’re all gonna have to come together and say, “Let’s pass this,” and I think we will. I’m not worried about it right now, ‘cause I think that’s where the general public is, and I think – I mean, again, in my district, I believe – and I am a conservative Republican district – in my district, I believe the movement is in favor of – will I have people angry about raising revenue? I believe the overwhelming number of constituents think the issue needs to be solved. I think they believe that. I’m gonna find out in November. But I think they do, and this has only ever happened in modern time on House Bill – it used to happen all the time, I mean, in the 20s and 30s. I mean, that’s a constitutional provision that gives them the right to do that. This has only ever happened in modern times on HB 1017, and it did pass. It passed by 5%, and by 5% is a tail kickin in a statewide ballot. I mean, 55-45 is not close. It sounds close, but it’s not.
But it passed, HB 1017 was an R/D issue, but that was when the state was heavily D, and you had a, frankly, several Republicans lose their seat for being on the wrong side of 1017. I believe that’s the mood of the electorate, but – and that’s where I’m gonna be. I’m gonna be for it. I’m gonna be a guy out there championing it, and saying that this is the first step and we have to keep it.
Q: If 1010 gets on the ballot, but you pass this Amazon and Ball and Dice, is that two separate things?
A: Yeah. They could run a referendum on any bill they want. I’m assuming they’ll only do it on the big one.
Q: Okay, and you said capital gains, right now, no, but not necessarily in the future?
A: Yes. I didn’t make a deal not to hear it for forever. I didn’t make a deal – obviously I’m interested in it ‘cause I’m researching it. I’m trying to figure out what the actual numbers are, and I would like to know where we are and what it would do, and maybe if there’s even a better way than just exempting ag, with an actual unknown. I mean, maybe we could make ag happier, at least happy, so we get our rural members, and it by way of moving to more of a Fed system, and maybe that will bring in more money. I don’t know. That’s the questions I’ve gotta ask Tony Mastin and say, kind of, “What are the numbers?” And right now, we don’t know. Everybody knows we want to exempt ag, and everybody thinks it’s $30 million/$120m, and we know if we don’t exempt ag, it’s not $30 million/$120m – er, if we exempt ag. It’s not that. You can’t take something out and be the exact same number, but I don’t even know what it is.
Tony Mastin claims he doesn’t know how to pull out ag. I think it just will be a lot of work, so I’m gonna talk to him again this evening, probably, and say, “Can we at least know where we are?”
Ask that out loud, it’s a good question.
Q: Is the Ball and Dice thing just like the lottery – so there’s supposed to be money from the Lottery for education. Where’s that?
A: Oh, the Legislature absolutely supplanted the Lottery funds.
Q: It was supposed to fund education more, but it –
A: There were two problems with the Lottery. Number one –
Q: So, I hear gambling, and –
Q: We just don’t want it to be –
[Lots of people talking at once]
Q: Is it written in statue, or will it be written in statute that it cannot be supplanted?
A: So, no, on the supplantion language, no. And you said that. You can’t do it ‘cause it’s the tribal issue. Now, I will tell you, I think Ball and Dice is worth more than $22 million, ‘cause those numbers have been gathered working with the Chickasaw Nation, the Cherokee Nation, and the Choctaw Nation.
Q: Wasn’t there a big number for the Lottery too? At the beginning of it?
A: The Lottery was way too big, but there was another issue. We were promised a higher lottery number than what we got. I wrote a bill last year, too, on the Lottery with Leslie Osborn that, ironically, I got some heat for, ‘cause they didn’t understand it. Part of the problem with the Lottery is you had to give a certain percentage. That’s why I don’t like funding things through gambling, even though I’m willing to do it.
Comment: Gambling, it’s gambling.
Q: Part of the problem with the Lottery –
Comment: It’s not set in stone, of an amount that is definite for education. It’s all this numbers of so-called “a vision”, but the vision doesn’t always come to it, and so what are we stuck with? Where we’re in right now.
A: And that’s that way with every funding source. It’s projected on something, and the Legislature doesn’t even do those projections. We’re not qualified to do those projections. Those are done by other people, and that’s why you see it’s uniformly accepted when the Tax Commission comes up with a number, you don’t have the Republicans and the Democrats fighting with the Tax Commission, ‘cause at the end of the day, they’re the experts. But that’s a fear – you’re actually arguing another issue why – that’s a strong argument why capital gains is a bad idea in general, because it does this [gestures hills and valleys like a roller coaster], it’s more volatile than oil and gas, the capital gains funding source. And 50% of our revenue – and by the way, again, I’m not saying I’m gonna be against – I’m arguing on something I was willing to vote for, but the reason I was willing to vote for it is we didn’t have other options – 50% of the revenue in 1010 – in Step Up, about 25% of the revenue came from oil and gas. In 1010, 50% of the revenue comes from oil and gas.
Let’s be clear, 1010 was an inferior bill to Step Up in almost every way. A perfect bill would’ve been 5% Step Up, but in general – so we have already funded by oil and gas, but that’s what we had to do to get the numbers. If we didn’t have that funding formula, we had to go to a dollar on cig, ‘cause that’s what the Democrat caucus wanted. They wanted $3 on gas. I didn’t fight that ‘cause I want $3 on gas, too, but you have that issue, too, with that volatility of the revenue sources, and we’re talking about more stable revenue sources when we’re talking about Amazon, frankly, even with Ball and Dice, we’ve got a good number what that brings in, ‘cause we’ve got a long history with the casinos, and it’s only three tribes. It’s not every tribe. It’s Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Choctaws.And then Wind, obviously, it’s a more stable source, so if we’re talking about stability, those are better sources than what we’re talking about with anything with capital gains, frankly, anything with oil and gas. The reason oil and gas was fine is ‘cause it’s no big deal to raise them to 5%. They’re fine. They’re still gonna drill. Nobody’s leaving. They’re not gonna leave if we raise ‘em to 7%. There’s still oil in the ground. They’re not going anywhere.
Q: So, it is a good idea to do Wind because, as oil goes down and wind takes –
Q: And it’s not a percentage, it’s a dollar –
A: It’s a set dollar, yeah, it’s a set dollar. They really want – ‘cause again, because of the 76 threshold – I keep talking about negotiating with industry, but it goes back to this global talk earlier about negotiating in general. When I have to get 76 votes, and I start off – you guys know this – I start off with 15-20 no’s, off the bat, just raises revenue, no, so my margin of error, is literally this big [gestures small], so it takes almost nothing – I mean, to kill a 76-vote measure, you’re a bad lobbying force if you can’t kill a 76-vote measure. To pass a 76-vote measure takes a Herculean effort because you need so few people to just crush it, and that’s the reality I live with up here, and try to do it, and they’ll be – hey, it’s not going anywhere, apparently, ‘cause we passed to a vote of the people, ‘cause I voted for it, and Tom Coburn noticed and sent me a nice little friendly email. It wasn’t friendly. But we passed to a vote of the people a 60% threshold, which to me seems reasonable, ‘cause it’s good enough for schools. I didn’t want 50 plus one. The voters would never approve that. But 60% – well, that died in Senate committee, so that’s not gonna go to the vote – and it wasn’t to raise your taxes easier. It was to let the people decide whether you want – and the people may have said, “Go stick it. We don’t want you to do that. We like gridlock. We don’t want you to raise any taxes. We’re afraid you’re gonna -” I mean, I hear this all the time, now that we’ve raised revenue, we’re afraid we’re gonna go tax crazy.
Republicans are NOT gonna go tax crazy. That is not my fear up here, that I’m gonna go up, and that we’re gonna – all of a sudden it’s gonna get easy to raise revenue. I mean, It’s always gonna be hard. That’s the function of it. What has changed is not that it’s not gonna be hard, it’s that it’s okay. Republican leaders have come out and said, “We’re willing to do this. We’re willing to move forward. We’re willing to take that step.” You’ve got guys like me on TV, which is the irony – I understand your passion, the heat I’m taking for the capital gains. I also, if I wasn’t here, I mean, I’m one of the main guys talking about raising. If I wasn’t up here, depending upon who else was in this – and I know who some other people that would be in here, if you got the wrong one, none of this would be happening, ‘cause if you don’t have the ability to bring a large group of people together, where you’ve already chopped off a third of my caucus. I can’t even talk to you.
I mean, I’ve gotta bring two-thirds of my caucus together to have any hope, and then I gotta – I gotta bring two-thirds of my caucus, then I gotta cut a deal that bring almost 100% of the minority caucus, of the Democrat caucus. Those are the types of deals you gotta cut, and they’re not easy. There’s nothing about this – if it was easy – I had somebody talking about the wasted money from the two special sessions. Couldn’t say anything other than, “I agree.” The fact that we passed 1010 is – I know it doesn’t feel that way. To me, it feels huge, because we’ve been – I’ve been busting my head against a wall over and over and over and over and over again. And that’s what gives me the strength to say I’m gonna follow through with what I said I was gonna do, because I’m pretty battle-worn.
I mean, I’ve taken a lot, and you guys are too. You’re up here. But for you guys being up here, squat wouldn’t have happened. You made the difference. The teachers made the difference. And it’s sad – I had somebody that got mad at me for saying that, and honestly, it makes me mad that you guys had to take it to the brink. The next question somebody asked me is you realize you’re gonna be up here next year. “We’re gonna be up here next year if we don’t continue with this process.” Guys, I was telling the governor in our breakfast the day after Step Up failed, “We gotta pass some stuff, because -” and if you watch me on TV, I’m saying it every week. “We’ve gotta pass some stuff, there’s gonna be a walkout. We’ve gotta pass some stuff, there’s gonna be a walkout. We’ve gotta pass some stuff, there’s gonna be a walkout,” and it wasn’t a self-fulfilling prophecy. I knew what was coming. I was quite positive, and I think what one of the – if we pass some revenue measures, we have no idea what number’s gonna be enough, and I don’t pretend to know, ‘cause that’s pejorative, and I would never do that.
This is your building. You guys come up here every day. Three months, a year. I will never say anything bad about it. Never have, never will.
Q: To sum up, so you are voting today on Amazon tax and Ball and Dice?
A: I’m told Senate’s voting on Ball and Dice.
Q: Senate – and Wind?
A: No, we are not voting on Wind today.
Q: It’s not Wind, is it discussion?
A: Yes, Wind will go to JCAB. It won’t be any discussion on the floor, but there will be – there’s discussion on bringing up wind, my guess is Monday of next week.
Q: So the Amazon thing that you’re voting on – are you having to do 76?
A: It’s 51.
Q: 51, and so then, if that passes, it goes to the Senate?
Comment: I teach history. I wanted to make sure I got this right. I taught my 5th graders correctly,
A: Are there any other questions I can answer for you guys?
Q: Is there anything that you’ve said here today that should not be put on social media?
A: Not a thing. Please don’t say I don’t care about my constituents, though. I know you weren’t saying that, but that wasn’t my –
Comment: They’ll get the right quote. I didn’t record it, but someone did.
A: That wasn’t what I was trying to say, but any way, I appreciate you guys coming in. No, there’s nothing. I’ve been totally transparent – what I’ve told every group. I’m surprised many group can’t give my spiel. I’ve tld every group the same thing.
Q: Is there anything coming up that we can be looking for to get funding into the classrooms?
A: Yeah, today, on the floor, we will have the Amazon bill for $20 million, and Ball and Dice – again, I can’t control that, but I’m told Ball and Dice is coming on the Senate –
This is where I had to cut off my recording while we were filing out of the room, but nothing new was said. I hope you can get some use out of this information.