Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dank: Coal Industry Tax Credits 'Poster Child'

From The House Media Division ~ The transferability of the coal, zero emission and wind energy tax credits runs counter to the intent of job creation and economic growth, the chairman of the Task Force on State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives said Wednesday.
David Dank

“You all know that this is a major concern,” said Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City. “State policy has apparently created a whole new industry of brokering and buying and selling transferable tax credits, like a big swap meet with millions being traded back and forth.”

Dank said while he supports the coal industry, the current coal tax credits are the “poster child for just about everything that is wrong with this system.”

“When these tax credits were first created, we granted a tax credit per ton of coal produced and a larger credit for those who purchased it,” Dank said. “In 2006, lawmakers passed a bill that took a portion of the purchaser’s tax credit and gave it to the producer. Then lawmakers restored the credit to the purchaser without reducing what had been given to the producer. In the weeks leading up to the end of that 2006 session, supporters of the coal industry formed a political action committee called Friends of Oklahoma Coal.”

Dank said job retention in the coal industry would be better addressed through the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program. He said the coal tax credits cost the state budget a minimum of $10 million each year. State Insurance Department records show that about 30 insurance firms bought $55.9 million in coal credits from 2006 through 2009.

Despite the state’s investment, Oklahoma’s coal industry has continued to shrink and the number of workers employed by mining firms has declined.

“These credits are issued with no accountability, no transparency, no auditing and no controls,” Dank said. “We have no idea what this money is used for and we see no evidence of any jobs created with it. Again, we have to ask if it is being done to maintain jobs or simply to assure profits.”

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