Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dank Says Exemptions A Runaway Train

By Barbara Hoberock/Tulsa World ~ A lawmaker heading a panel that is scrutinizing tax credits and exemptions calls them a runaway train.

"It is way out of proportion," said Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, co-chairman of a 10-member panel studying tax credits and exemptions.

"It is almost cancerous. It keeps going on and on and on. You can't stay in business if you keep giving (away) the store, and that is what we are doing."

The Task Force for the Study of State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives will make recommendations to lawmakers about which ones should be eliminated.

"Something is going to be done," Dank said. The study has gotten a lot of attention, he said. "The lobbyists are just coming out of the woodwork," Dank said. "And that is fine because they are being paid to do what they are doing. I don't have any problem with that. I just tell them my views. I am very outspoken."

Dank estimates the state has about $250 million in tax credits and exemptions on the books while others have put it at $500 million.

"We don't really know how many have been issued because most of them have a five-year carry forward," Dank said. "That means they can use them up to five years after they are issued." They range from breaks for rehabilitating historic buildings to wind energy and job creation in rural areas.

Dank is direct and to the point. At the panel's third meeting last week, where three credits were reviewed, Dank didn't sugarcoat it.

"If you want to come to the microphone and defend your tax credit, I would ask you to begin by presenting documentation of exactly how many long-term jobs your favorite tax credit has created," Dank said. "That is the best way to judge the effectiveness of these tax credits, and it needs to be the first thing you tell us."

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