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Bill seeks Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program reform

Rep. Eric Proctor plans to introduce a bill when the Oklahoma Legislature reconvenes on Monday that would block companies that outsource jobs to foreign countries from receiving incentive payments through the state's Quality Jobs Program.
by Brianna Bailey Published: February 1, 2013

Companies have to create a minimum $2.5 million in new payroll within three years to qualify for Quality Jobs payments. Businesses enrolled in the program must also meet minimum wage and benefit requirements.

Proctor claims that from 2000 to 2010, more than $110 million in payroll tax rebate money from the Quality Jobs Program has gone to companies that have outsourced jobs overseas.

Is program flawed?

Economist Mickey Hepner, dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Oklahoma, believes the Quality Jobs Program is essentially flawed, because the state is paying companies for jobs they would have added to their businesses anyway.

“It's not really creating new jobs — a lot of these jobs would have been here to begin with,” he said.

The Quality Jobs Program lacks a clawback provision that would require companies to return state money if they later lay off workers.

However, the state doesn't give money to companies up front — the jobs have to be created before the incentive money is given, said Don Hackler, deputy director for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, which vets applications from businesses to participate in the Quality Jobs Program.

The program has created more than $15.9 billion in new payroll in the state since it began through 2011, according to the most recent data from the Commerce Department.

“It is a performance-based program,” Hackler said. “They enter into a contract with us, and if their business takes a nose-dive, they never get a penny from the state.”

by Brianna Bailey
Business Writer
Brianna Bailey has lived in Idaho, Germany and Southern California, but Oklahoma is her adopted home. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and has worked at several newspapers in Oklahoma and Southern...
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