OK State Commission Targets Tax Incentives To Find Money

Wednesday, July 6th 2016, 2:24 pm
By: Grant Hermes

The state’s newly formed Tax Incentive Evaluation Commission is targeting nearly $110 million in tax incentives given to businesses in its first year of operation.

The commission, formed last year, is working on a four-year plan tasked with finding tax incentives that may be redundant, wasteful or in need of a change. The commission will report back to the legislature with recommendations.

“You always should look at any incentive and review it on a more regular basis and perhaps we have not done that over the past several years,” Commission Chair Lyle Roggow said. Roggow also serves as the president of the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation.

The commission’s inaugural list of incentives includes several large incentives including $68 million a year for manufacturing plants and $27 million a year for wind energy companies. A proposal that failed to make it through the legislature in the most recent session.

The list also targets smaller incentives such as $5 million a year to attract film makers, $3 million a year to aerospace engineers and $2 million a year to pay for industrial access roads along with other smaller incentives.

“We do not want to have incentives that will erode or make it tougher or more challenging or more difficult and lower us as a state,” Roggow said.

But there are concerns about whether eliminating incentives will hurt state businesses or the ability to attract new business especially during the state's $1.3 billion shortfall. Those fears were born out by the release of the state collection numbers by State Treasurer Ken Miller which did not show any signs of economic improvement on the horizon.

“We want good incentives that attract good paying jobs or attract investment to the state. We want to attract economic growth and development,” Roggow said.

Right now, the commission is still getting its data set but plans to have solid numbers by next week and from there it can start making recommendations to lawmakers, according to Roggow.