Share “Sonics owners push tax incentives”

By The Associated Press Modified: April 16, 2008 at 9:03 pm •  Published: April 16, 2008

The measure would also permit the company to receive rebates on the taxable payroll paid by players from opposing teams when they play in the city.

If the team relocates, it will bring 170 jobs with a $74 million payroll to the state, officials have said. The rebate will be about $4 million a year and $60 million over its 15-year life.

Opponents of the plan have said it is unnecessary because the team has already announced its intention to relocate and the team's millionaire owners do not need a tax break.

"This is not what the quality Jobs Act was meant to be. I look at it as corporate welfare," Joyner said.

David Glover, a citizen who has spoken out against the plan, urged lawmakers to oppose the Sonics deal.

Glover carried a sign in the Capitol rotunda that resembled a check and was made out for more than $3.3 million. He said that is what Oklahoma taxpayers will rebate to the team each year for the salaries of 16 Sonics basketball players.

"It will be by far the most money back for the least people ever," Glover said.

Rep. Al Lindley, D-Oklahoma City, who voted against the plan on Monday, said Price urged him to vote yes in a telephone conversation.

"He just wanted me to support the Sonics deal," Lindley said. But Lindley said Price did not indicate the team would not relocate if the tax incentive did not pass.

"He just said it would help if it would be passed," Lindley said. "They're hitting the Democrats pretty hard because they probably need some."

Lindley said he does not plan to change his vote.

Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma, voted for the Sonics tax package after the House approved an amendment creating economic development incentives for rural areas like his northwestern Oklahoma district.

But Hickman said he now plans to vote against it unless he receives a commitment from House leaders that rural economic development will become a priority.

"We have some very serious issues involving rural areas that we need to talk about. I think the rural members are tired of being run over," Hickman said.


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