When the votes started rolling in at the Oklahoma House of Representatives Monday night on the package designed to give teachers a pay raise, Rep. Lewis Moore said he had intended to vote yes, but it didn’t work out that way.
Moore, a Republic from Arcadia who represents Luther, said he and a couple of other lawmakers wanted to be vote number 76 to attain the elusive super-majority, explaining he was a reluctant yes on the package that raises taxes on cigarettes, gasoline and diesel, hotel taxes and the gross production taxes on oil and gas.
“I don’t want people to pay more taxes, but I was willing to vote yes if they needed my vote,” he told The Luther Register on Tuesday.
Trouble is, Moore stalled just long enough that when he made his way to his desk to vote as the voting clock wound down, he was voter number 80, but he didn’t press his vote button all of the way, resulting in a no vote after all.
Although the measure, HB1010xx passed easily without his vote, he said the incident is embarrassing. He said he voted no on some of the other measures Monday night intentionally. Moore said he was not for the measure that created raises for support staff in the schools, saying that Oklahoma is not losing support staff to surrounding states like they are teachers. “It’s hard to be a teacher. Many support staff personnel are happy to have a good job, plus they get the pension and the insurance. It’s a sweet gig,” he said.
He expressed frustration over the lack of progress on the budget issues by the Legislature saying that instead of “nickel and diming” revenue together with a variety of taxes, he advocates for a flat four percent income tax for everyone, with no deductions for anyone. He said it would raise $1.3 billion.
He also said the State of Oklahoma is getting hustled when it comes to reaping profits from the state’s energy resources. “Contrary to what everyone thinks, we are not a poor state. We have tremendous resources in oil, gas, wind, solar and coal but we are ‘giving away the farm’ in incentives and breaks,” he said. Moore is calling for an Energy Development Plan for industry experts to be in place to advise lawmakers who aren’t expert in all of the ways the state could get revenue from its natural resources.
He invited Luther residents to come to his office at the Capitol, Room 329. He anticipates that the Oklahoma Education Association will proceed with a walkout at least for April 2. Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to consider the revenue-raising bill, passed in the House albeit without Moore’s vote, on Wednesday.