Economic Development

The Oklahoma economy continued to grow in FY '97, often leading the nine-state midwestern region as measured by the Mid-America Business Conditions Index, published by Creighton University. Oklahoma ranked 2nd in manufacturing job growth, based on percent change from January 1996 to January 1997, according to the Arizona State University Blue Chip Job Growth Update for March 1997.

The growing economy and the resulting increase in state revenue set the stage for enactment of additional tax breaks and business incentives as follows:

SB 39 (Fisher/Roach): Amends the Quality Jobs Investment Program to allow the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority to select and qualify investment enterprises to receive funds or a guarantee from the Authority which will be used to attract and match private investment capital.

SB 461 (Fisher/Deutschendorf): Would have required the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency to develop a statewide affordable housing strategy to identify needs for affordable housing particularly in non metropolitan areas and in areas experiencing growth. (VETOED)

SB 574 (Fisher/Roach): Creates the "Small Employer Quality Jobs Incentive Act". Under the bill, a qualified small business is eligible for an annual incentive payment of 5% of payroll for new jobs created. The incentive payment may be received for a five-year period if the business continues to qualify. To qualify, the small business must be a basic industry which exports its product, have 90 employees or less, provide basic health benefits, project and actually create at least 10 new jobs within a twelve-month period, and pay to at least 80% of the new employees an annualized wage which equals or exceeds 150% of the per capita personal income of the county in which the new jobs are located.

SB 668 (Fisher/Roach): Amends the Quality Jobs Program Act to broaden the definition of "basic industry" to include certain communication services and certain establishments that capture methane gas produced within landfills. Modifications are also made to a provision enacted this session which allows a business that locates on a federal Superfund removal site to qualify under the Quality Jobs Program for incentive payments.

HB 1130 (Fields/Long): Includes a 25% cut in unemployment compensation taxes paid by employers. The tax rate reduction will be in effect for 2 1/2 years, ending December 31, 1999. (Originally SB 40 by Fisher of the Senate and Roach of the House)

HB 1148 (Dunegan/Mickle): Increases the income tax exemption for sponsors of incubators from seven to ten years and the income tax exemption for tenants of incubators from two to five years.

HB 1253 (Roach/Fisher): Creates the "Small Business Capital Formation Incentive Act" which grants an income tax credit of 20% of the cash amount invested in a small business capital company which is organized to invest equity and near equity capital in Oklahoma small businesses. The bill also provides a tax credit of 20% of the cash amount co-invested by a partner or shareholder of the small business capital company in a small business venture with the company. The tax credits expires January 1, 2005.

HB 1518 (Leist/Shurden): Allows an establishment which locates its principal business activity on a contaminated site listed on the federal National Priorities List to qualify for incentive payments under the Quality Jobs Program Act irrespective of actual gross payroll or the number of employees in new direct jobs. At least 80% of the annual gross revenue of the establishment must be derived from activity at the contaminated site. (NOTE: See subsequent amendment in SB 344.)


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