tax credits

Budget Crisis Clips Credit For Oklahoma's Working Poor

May 22, 2016
Tammy Greenman of Oklahoma City uses a bullhorn to ask Gov. Mary Fallin to call off safety net cuts, including partial elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Warren Vieth / Oklahoma Watch

In their final rush to contend with Oklahoma’s budget crisis, state lawmakers have voted to curtail a tax credit described by advocates as one of the best programs ever devised to help the working poor.

The measure to eliminate the “refundable” portion of Oklahoma’s Earned Income Credit would reduce the income of about 200,000 low-income households by $147 a year on average, according to a recent data study.

NextEra Renewable Energy Resources' wind farm near Elk City, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A $1.3 billion budget hole and state funding crisis fueled by low crude prices has polarized a debate on the state’s financial support of wind-generated electricity.

State seal in Capitol rotunda
Serge Melki / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Senate leaders say they're still discussing changes to state tax credits and exemptions, despite the fact that legislation with most of those changes still hasn't been heard on the chamber's floor. Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, told reporters this week lawmakers are continuing to work through their caucuses to make sure the members have the details about legislation dealing with tax credits and off-the-top spending.

Workers erect scaffolding outside the First National Center building in downtown Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Council discussed making changes to the tax increment finance district, or TIF, for the area affected by MAPS projects.

The council wants to increase the budget for the downtown MAPS district – adding $40 million to bring the total to $165 million.

“The says that the investment so far has already brought in $1.8 billion in private money, and adding the $40 million would bring in another $1 billion,” said The Journal Record’s managing editor Adam Brooks.

Lawmakers gather in the House chamber at the state Capitol before Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her 2016 State of the State address.
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Four stories that were trending or generated discussion online or on KGOU’s social media platforms during the past week.

wind turbine
Tamsin Slater / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, wants to end a federal tax subsidy for the production of electricity through wind power. The freshman Republican introduced legislation that would not allow any more companies to qualify for the tax credit after 2019.

A sales tax exemption approved in 2005 applies to electricity used in "waterflood" oil recovery projects in older fields, such as the Glenn Pool field shown above, with Sapulpa in the distance.
Oklahoma Historical Society

An obscure sales tax break authored by Oklahoma’s Senate leader is subsidizing an expensive form of enhanced oil recovery for seven companies, including the senator’s employer.

The tax break on electricity used to power old “waterflood” recovery projects was authored in 2005 by now-Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.

The first company to apply for and receive the exemption was Uplands Resources Inc. of Tulsa. At the time, Bingman was the company’s land manager. He currently works there as vice president of land and operations.

State Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville
okhouse.gov

Because of a failure to write clear laws, Oklahoma leaders say, the state paid more than $90 million to insurance companies it shouldn’t have over the past five years in the form of rebates.

The rebates were paid to insurance firms that provide workers’ compensation coverage in Oklahoma and that had paid assessments required by state law to a fund called the Multiple Injury Trust Fund.

Provided / Oklahoma Senate

The Oklahoma Senate approved two bills Wednesday designed to provide more scrutiny and oversight of some of the hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of state tax credits. Both bills by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa) now go to the House for consideration.

Oklahoma State Senate

Two bills that would require stricter oversight of various state tax credits and incentives have cleared a Senate committee.

The Senate Finance Committee approved both bills by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman on Tuesday. The measures now proceed to the full Senate.

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