Monday, April 7, 2008

Welfare for Millionaires!

One of the critical issues tho be considered by the House is a proposal to amend the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act in order to provide an estimated 60 million of your taxpayer dollars to the National Basketball Association.

The bill is sure to spark a debate about the propriety of state government instituting the policy of welfare for millionaires in the name of job creation.

It appears that the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act was initially developed in order to offer to rebate the first ten years of income tax collections from a new Oklahoma company's employees back to those same companies if they will relocate to Oklahoma. The act is supposed to entice new companies to move to Oklahoma that would not move to Oklahoma without the tax rebate.

Not content to settle for ten years of corporate welfare payments to the NBA, the proposed legislation would amend the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act in order to grant the NBA a special exception and the life of their paybacks would be extended for the next 15 years.

I do not believe this is an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars. I feel that it is wrong for the state government to keep individual taxes high while building in a large number of corporate tax credit and refund loopholes into the law. Government should focus on driving down the tax rate across the board, and instituting a policy of less taxation without corporate welfare exceptions. And there is little doubt in my mind that most Oklahomans do not feel it is appropriate for the NBA to receive 15 years of corporate welfare payments.

The current policy of high taxes with targeted breaks for a special few is unfair to the average taxpayer who is forced to make up the difference.

This latest proposed amendment to the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act proves an important point about this type of corporate welfare scheme. I believe the act is supposed to provide funding to those organizations that would not normally relocate to Oklahoma without the funding. But as everyone knows, the Sonics are very likely already moving here without this funding. How many other organizations are receiving this credit that would move to Oklahoma without receiving it?

No doubt the proponents of this corporate welfare program will argue that a large number of jobs have been created because of the tax credit based on the number of successful applicants for the money, but the circumstances surrounding the tax credit for the Sonics proves just how faulty these numbers probably are.

As State Representative, I have taken a hard stance against corporate welfare and will continue to do so in this instance.

If you would like to provide your feedback on this matter, please feel free to visit and complete my 2008 Constituent Survey. I am asking House District 31 constituents to weigh in on this, and a number of other issues. To date, over 200 individuals have completed the survey. According to the most recent tally, the people of House District 31 are overwhelmingly opposed to this tax credit, with 87% of respondents expressing opposition to the plan.

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