Sanders denounces proposed elimination of rural firefighter tax credit

Legislative Staff Release

Published: 22-Feb-2010

State Rep. Mike Sanders said today he will fight Gov. Brad Henry’s plan to eliminate a tax credit for rural firefighters.

“This is unacceptable; we had one of the worst fire seasons last year and these brave men and women put themselves in harms way to protect the general public,” Sanders, a Kingfisher Republican, said. “The majority of towns and cities in Oklahoma are small rural communities that rely on rural fire departments. Eliminating some tax credits is necessary and appropriate, but not when it affects public safety. I can’t fathom why the governor would consider slashing the budget of our rural fire departments when they are so vital to public safety.”

Sanders said Governor Henry has also proposed zeroing out the Rural Economic Action Plan.

“The proposal to eliminate the tax credit is just another kick in the teeth of rural communities and their way of life,” Sanders said. “Governor Brad Henry has already proposed eliminating the REAP program. What else does he want to cut that benefits rural Oklahomans?”

Last year, Sanders and other rural lawmakers successfully fought to include REAP in the budget. It received the same 7 percent cut given to most state agencies, including the Legislature and Governor’s office. Funding for the program was generated through an increase in the fine for delinquent tag renewal, which increased from 25 cents to $1 a day. Of the 75 cents increase, 50 cents went to REAP while the other 25 cents would stay with the tag agent.

“Rural lawmakers aren’t going to take this sitting down,” Sanders said. “We were successful in fighting for REAP funding last year and we will find success again in this year’s fight to ensure rural Oklahoma is not forgotten in the budget process.”

For further discussion watch Patrick McGuigan’s interview with News 9.