Oklahoma budget crisis spurs battle among oilmen as state struggles to fill $878M budget hole

Posted at 7:26 AM, May 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-24 08:26:57-04

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An impasse among Oklahoma lawmakers over how to fix the state's worst budget problem in decades has sent the legislature spiraling into chaos and focused blame on the usually sacrosanct oil and natural gas industry for not paying more taxes.

The industry has historically been the key driver of the state's economy, providing tens of thousands of jobs and accounting for about 13 percent of Oklahoma's household earnings.

But a sharp cut approved two years ago in oil and gas production taxes, which led to severe budget problems for schools and social services, has triggered bitter infighting not only among Republicans but industry leaders about whether oilmen are paying their fare share.

The battle has left the GOP-dominated legislature struggling to fill a huge $878 million budget hole.