House sends Oklahoma Quick Action Closing Fund to Senate
Published: March 17th, 2011
CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
Legislation to create an economic development “closing fund” passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday (March 16), garnering the praise of Governor Mary Fallin. Fallin had asked for such a fund in her State of the State address, and again in a recent statement.
The chief executive said in press statements she supported House Bill 1953, by Rep. Skye McNiel, a Bristow Republican. Allies also contend that she made phone calls boosting the bill in recent days.
The bill makes substantial changes to the Oklahoma Opportunity Fund, which was first created in 2006. The changes include:
- changing the name to the Oklahoma Quick Action Closing fund
- addressing the project approval process by authorizing the governor to make the final decision on a project, subject to consultation with the Speaker of the House and President Pro Tempore of the Senate
- requiring a project to enter into an agreement with The Department of Commerce, who shall administer the Fund, and mandating that the agreement be performance based, providing a “net economic benefit” to the state
- a “claw back” provision for failure to meet performance provisions
Advocates of the fund contend that in recent years, Texas and Arkansas have landed economic development deals at least in part because of their ability to enhance the financial incentive package on the table in the final stages of site selection. From 2005 to 2010, 14 projects have received closing fund dollars from Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi, representing more than 12,000 jobs and over $1.5 billion in investment, according to information provided by the State Chamber.
“These are jobs and investment that could have easily come to Oklahoma but for the state’s lack of a closing fund,” said State Chamber President Fred Morgan. “Oklahoma has a lot to offer states looking to relocate, and this legislation will help put our state on economic development radars we would not be on otherwise.”
The bill passed with a vote of 79-17.
Governor Fallin praised the House action. In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK she said:
“I am extremely pleased to see the House pass legislation authorizing a Quick Action Closing Fund. That fund will serve as an important method of bringing new businesses to Oklahoma and will help to create more and better private sector jobs for our citizens.”
Note: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.