Dank, Sears and Steele unveil measures to extend moratorium on some tax credits and put stricter criteria into state constitution

Rep. David Dank, Rep. Earl Sears and House Speaker Kris Steele on Thursday (January 26) unveiled the proposed package of legislation arising from the lengthy examination of the value of business tax credits. 

In a state Capitol press conference, Dank said he will propose four bills that would eliminate automatic renewal of tax credits and business incentive programs, extend for two years moratoriums on existing programs, and establish permanent criteria and controls because “we tend to forget lessons from the past and repeat the same mistakes we’ve made before.”

Stricter controls would include greater transparency, mandatory economic impact analysis, and expiration dates that would trigger a re-application process.

Speaker Steele has filed a joint resolution, which, if passed by the people, would write new criteria into the State Constitution.

The trio said the envisioned reform plan exempts the Quality Jobs program, engineering jobs and the oil and gas industry because of the substantive contribution it makes to the economy. The trio of conservative Republicans seem prepared to defend against accusations of energy industry favoritism.

The moratorium will give the Oklahoma Legislature further time to study the worthiness of those tax credits, reporters were told. After the moratorium ends, the affected industries/small businesses/individuals will have to re-apply to qualify.

The task force released in December a final report after the extensive interim hearings Dank chaired, in a process that began last summer. That report’s findings served as the framework for Dank’s proposed legislation.