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The Daily Ardmoreite
  • Bills to tax aggregate fail to pass through Senate committee

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  • In an attempt to equal the playing field, Sen. Frank Simpson (R-Ardmore) and Rep. Charles McCall (R-Atoka) submitted bills to allow counties to collect taxes on locally produced aggregate materials.

    And the effort came up short as the bills failed to make it out of committee.

    Simpson said the effort would have given aggregate-rich counties the same benefits as those with fossil fuels. The revenue would be used for infrastructure needs.

    "I was disappointed and I'm not sure the committee understood what we were asking for," Simpson said. "Some senators were concerned about giving counties the ability of levy taxes and we already have them levy taxes."

    Simpson said there are 35 counties in Oklahoma where rock, gravel, sand and gypsum are mined. He said the vast majority of aggregate is being shipped to Texas where the state can benefit from sales tax. The system is allowing tax dollars to slip out of Oklahoma and counties that should benefit from their natural resources.

    "There is very little benefit to the citizens of Oklahoma," Simpson said.

    As an example, Simpson cited Carter County, which is rich in oil. Johnston County does not have the oil resources, as its geology is rich in aggregate.

    "Carter County reaps some benefit from oil while Johnston County does not receive the same benefits," Simpson said.

    Although the bill failed to make it out of county, Simpson said the fight is far from over.

    "I met with the Oklahoma Tax Commission the day after the bill was shot down and we are looking at some options," Simpson said. "They have not seen the last of Rep. McCall and myself. They (aggregate industry) have a strong lobby and what that tells you is they care more about the aggregate miners than they do about the citizens of Johnston County." Though a handful of legislators have proposed other ways to lower those taxes, the focus this session is on Fallin's 0.25 percent cut, said Rep. Earl Sears, chairman of the House Revenue and Tax Subcommittee.

    "We've all agreed that's a good starting point," he said.

    "I'm well aware that the state agencies are requiring additional funds," Sears added. "I've put another state agency in front of me, and that state agency is the taxpayers."
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